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3 of the Most Outrageously Expensive Addictions in the World

Posted Jan. 27, 2014, at 10:53 a.m.
Last modified Jan. 27, 2014, at 11:51 a.m.

No matter the vice, sustaining addictions costs money. There are a lot of expensive addictions out there, but no matter the cost people just keep reaching for more. Kicking any addiction requires an enormous level of determination, physical stamina, and, in most cases, clinical assistance. Read on to learn more about three of the most outrageously expensive addictions in the world.

3. Gambling: $92 Billion

In some respects, the developed world has a real problem on its hands when it comes to gambling. While it can be an exhilarating way to blow of steam, and casino resorts all over the world are beautiful in themselves, they contribute to one of the most outrageously expensive addictions in the world. And it’s not just a bad habit. Gambling addiction is diagnosed through a combination of five separate symptoms that are identified through physical, psychological, and mental-status evaluations performed by a doctor.

In the 2007 alone, Americans forfeited an excess of $92 billion on gambling. That’s almost 10 times more than the U.S. film industry generated in tickets that year. To put that into perspective, the global casino and gaming industry rakes in more than $125 billion each year. That’s billion. With a “B.”

The worldwide gambling epicenters are Las Vegas, Nev., Atlantic City, N.J., and Macau, China. It continues to shift to Asia in general. The Singapore market in particular rivals Las Vegas, with its two separate and massive casino districts.

The Chinese market is booming, despite government regulations that limit domestic access to casinos in China and several other Asian countries, making it rely heavily on international tourist gaming revenue.

2. Overeating: $107 Billion

Number two on our list of the three most outrageously expensive addictions in the world is overeating. Not only is overeating incredibly unhealthy and contributes to some of the most deadly health conditions that afflict people all over the world, it’s also exceedingly expensive. This epidemic eats up an average of $107 billion dollars each year worldwide.

For decades, the U.S. held the title of “most obese country in the world.” Astonishingly, it was surpassed recently, according to a March 2013 study performed by the U.N. The plate has been passed to the neighbors to the south: Mexico. Don’t worry, the U.S. still sits second on the list, with 31.8 percent of its population classified as obese. Following close behind is New Zealand with 26.5 percent, Chile with 25.1 percent, and Australia with 24.6 percent.

Arguably one of the most disheartening aspects of these statistics is the fact that about 70,000 die in Mexico each year because diabetes-related causes. And more than 400,000 cases are diagnosed each year. The medical repercussions, combined with the simple cost of food to sustain such eating habits, makes it perfectly at home on our list.

1. Drug Abuse: $300 billion

Between prescription drug abuse and addiction, and illicit drug activity and dependency, it won’t be a shock to many that drug abuse has earned its spot as the number one most outrageously expensive addiction in the world. It’s impossible to tell exactly how much revenue this global affliction generates, but it’s estimated to be upwards of $300 billion annually, representing one percent of the world’s global trade. The economics of drug abuse make up a very tangled, complicated web of issues, stemming from the medical dependencies those who are addicted to drugs incur.

The U.S. tops the world’s roster of countries with the most drug addicts. While only 8.7 percent of the population currently using, it’s estimated that these individuals cost the American economy $190 million each year. This cost is composed of legal fees, rehabilitation efforts, incarceration costs, and other burdens.

As you can see, addictions in general are costly afflictions. While gambling, overeating, and drug abuse are hardly the only addictions in the world that are cause for concern, they certainly rank at the top of the list. Which addictions do you suppose should have been included in this list? Feel free to join the conversation in the comments below.

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