PJ Haarsma
February 28, 2020

What is the Price of Heroin in California?

The price of heroin in California is more than you can afford. In fact, it’s more than you should afford. Although a 2018 study by the National Drug Early Warning System (NDEWS) found that heroin use in the Los Angeles area was lower than the national rate, heroin treatment admissions were still at a dangerously high level.


What’s the Cost?


The US National Library of Medicine used literature based estimates to create a model  for the actual monetary cost for the abuse of heroin. They estimate that it costs US taxpayers $51 billion dollars a year – or $50,799 per heroin user.


That’s a lot of money.


And it’s getting worse:


Widespread availability and the contributing use of opioids has doubled the number of heroin users every decade. While the epidemic is obliterating communities and towns throughout the US in astonishing numbers, we forget to remember how devastating the use of heroin can be to just one person.


Price of Heroin to the Individual User

Heroin’s effects on the brain and nervous are notorious. Its ability to erase any other source of reward or gratification can cause addiction quickly. Sometimes in as little time as two weeks. Combined with heroin’s brutal withdrawal symptoms, the user’s life can quickly spiral out of control. On average you will spend $150 a day or more to support your habit, but there are even greater costs. The price you will pay for an addiction to heroin will impact your work, your life, your relationships, and your health.


Cost #1: Loss of Trust


Heroin erodes your ability to sustain any honest or responsible behavior with your loved ones. Your marriage, your friendship, even your relationship with your family will break down as the desire to get high from heroin begins to supersede anything else in your life. Heroin will corrupt the way you perceive happiness and joy, at the expense of everyone around you.


Your heroin use will even result in the loss of your child custody rights if children are involved. No court in the country will allow your heroin use to come before the health of your child and they will be taken away from you.


Cost #2: Your Job


If your company drug tests its employees, you will lose your job. If you’re seeking employment, you will have to pass a drug test during the hiring process. Your use of heroin will most certainly jeopardize your ability to secure employment. If you begin to use while you’re employed, the heroin or other opiate use will lead to mood swings, reduced motor skills and an overall reduction in productivity. Soon, your absences will begin to pile up. Habitual tardiness becomes the norm and discipline problems hit your record. The next thing you know, you’re fired.


Cost #3: Financial Stability


It’s almost cliché how drug habits will drain your bank account. When you can only think about getting your next high, saving money for rent, food, bills, child care, or anything else quickly becomes irrelevant. Your habit becomes more expensive and eventually unstainable.


Cost #4: Your Freedom


Ask an addict to describe the lowest point of their addiction and I will guarantee you that they tell you the story about the first time they were incarcerated for stealing to sustain their habit. It’s inevitable that you will need to find money to sustain your heroin addiction as you constantly try to achieve that narcotic bliss of your first exposure. Chasing the dragon, as they say. This will lead to lying, stealing, and eventually the loss of your freedoms with eventual jail time.


Cost of Heroin to Society


It may be easy to point to the devastating effects of heroin addiction on an individual, but we can’t ignore the cost to our society as a whole. Where does that $51 billion dollars come from? The University of Chicago studied the financial impact of heroin and found the following repercussions


The Cost of Crime


Whenever a crime is committed, our society is forced to pick up the tab. These costs include:

    • Policing expenses
    • Incarceration costs - both State and Federal
    • Strain on social welfare resources
    • Legal costs to the state
    • Losses suffered by the victim


The Cost of Productivity Loss


When your habit begins to affect your work, your ability to provide for yourself and your family becomes diminished, as well as your ability to contribute to society in a positive manner. These costs include:

    • Inability to be employed
    • Lower wages from jobs that can be found
    • Inability to provide while incarcerated
    • Death

Any addiction to drugs or alcohol can result in job loss or a reduction in productivity.


The Cost of Healthcare


Heroin destroys your body and its ability to function properly. You will soon find yourself seeking medical attention and paying for things like:

    • AIDS
    • Hepatitis B & C
    • Tuberculosis
    • Pre-natal health issues
    • Health insurance administration costs



The Cost of Healthcare Resources


In addition, you can’t pay for healthcare because you lost your job and spend all your savings on your habit, then society must pick up the tab for:

    • Doctor’s office
      1. Visits
      2. Treatments
    • Social welfare
    • Hospitals
      1. Emergency Room
      2. Treatments
      3. Stay
    • Abuse shelters
    • Cost of treating newborns with medical addictions from the drug



The Costs our Children Pay


It’s impossible to calculate the cost to a child growing up in an addictive household. Engaging in risky and illegal behavior puts your children at risk and creates an environment that increases the chances that they will follow in your footsteps.


It may be obvious to most that heroin and other opioids are truly devastating for an individual as well as a community. When you add up the above costs, as well as what the typical users spend on his or her habit, the number is staggering.


But it doesn’t have to be this way.


No one can tell you that getting clean is easy, but they should tell you that it is imperative – for you and everyone around. If you are starting to feel your life beginning to spiral downward for heroin use, or any drug for that matter, reach out for help.


Start there.


Ask for help.







How does the purity of heroin affect its price?

The purity of heroin significantly influences its price; higher purity heroin typically costs more due to its increased potency and the fact that it can be cut or extended with other substances, affecting its overall market value.

What factors influence the price of heroin in California?

Factors influencing the price of heroin in California include its purity, availability, demand, and the presence of law enforcement activities. Regional variations and the costs associated with smuggling and distribution networks also play significant roles.

Are there differences in pricing between urban and rural areas in California?

Yes, there can be differences in heroin pricing between urban and rural areas in California, often influenced by factors such as supply chain logistics, availability, demand, and local law enforcement activities. Urban areas may have different dynamics in terms of distribution and demand compared to rural settings, affecting price.

Can changes in heroin pricing impact addiction rates and treatment seeking behavior?

Yes, changes in heroin pricing can impact addiction rates and treatment-seeking behavior.Lower prices may increase accessibility and use, potentially leading to higher addiction rates. Conversely, higher prices might deter use but also drive individuals to seek cheaper alternatives or enter treatment.

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