The Costs of Alcohol and Drug Rehab

Man and woman hugging in group therapy session

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If you are considering seeking professional treatment for a drug or alcohol problem, one of the first questions you will probably have is, "How much will it cost?" In fact, one of the main reasons that people delay getting drug and alcohol treatment is the costs involved.

If you or a loved one are struggling with substance use or addiction, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

The problem with trying to find an answer to how much rehabilitation will cost is that there are so many variables involved, including the type of treatment you need and the length of time you will need to be in the treatment program. On top of that, the price that addiction treatment programs charge for the exact same services can differ greatly from one facility to the next, depending on the location of the facility and the "extras" that the program may provide basic services.

Although the "average" monthly cost of treatment is estimated at around $3,800, that average includes programs offered by the Veterans Administration and other federal and state agencies that cost the consumer little or nothing. It also includes both residential and outpatient programs, which can vary widely in costs.

Even private residential rehabilitation programs can vary widely in price. They can cost as little as $7,500 a month on the low end, to $10,000 to $20,000 for a higher quality program, all the way to $80,000 to $120,000 a month for luxury rehab programs designed for executives, celebrities, professional athletes and other high-profile patients.

Factors Affecting Rehab Costs

The main factors that come into play affecting the costs involved in professional drug and alcohol treatment include:

  • The type of treatment needed
  • The length of the treatment program
  • The amenities offered by the facility
  • The location of the facility

Type of Treatment Program

Treatment programs can be outpatient or residential. Naturally, inpatient or residential programs are going to cost more because you will eat, sleep and live at the rehab facility. You are there 24 hours a day, which requires the facility to have staff members on duty around the clock for as long as you are in treatment.

Residential programs are also required to have medical care available, which means the facility has to have a physician and/or nurse on duty or on call at all times.

Outpatient programs, on the other hand, are generally only open during business hours. Depending on the type of services the program provides, you may need to actually be at the facility a few hours a day, or perhaps even only a few hours a week, meaning the costs are much less expensive.

Another financial advantage of outpatient programs is you can continue to work and earn wages while receiving treatment, compared to a residential program that would require you to take vacation/sick days or a leave of absence from work to attend.

Length of Treatment Required

When you first begin alcohol or drug treatment, you will go through an evaluation assessment, after which a counselor will make a recommendation as to how long you should stay in treatment to have the best chance of achieving your goals.

Unless you are court-ordered into rehab, you are the person who makes the final decision about how long you stay in a treatment program. The evaluator may recommend that you commit to a 90-day residential program, but you are the one who will decide how long you need to remain in the program.

It is possible that all you need is a short detoxification program followed by a short period during which your withdrawal symptoms are monitored and medicated as necessary. A detox program can take a little as three to five days or up to a week to 10 days, perhaps two weeks at the longest.

However, depending on your evaluation, the counselor may recommend that you continue your treatment for 28 days, 90 days or even longer. In the case of heroin addiction, you could be placed in a methadone or suboxone treatment program that lasts for a year and sometimes longer.

Naturally, the longer that you are in the program, the more your treatment is likely to cost. A short two-week detoxification program is going to cost a lot less than 28 days in a residential rehab facility.

Amenities Offered by the Facility

Professional alcohol and drug treatment is a consumer item. If you can afford it, you can get the treatment you need along with many other personal services you desire in luxury surroundings with all of the amenities you would expect at a first-class resort or spa.

There are luxury treatment centers that offer their clients everything from meals prepared by gourmet chefs to personal trainers and private nurses. They can offer hair and nail technicians, massage therapists and personal assistants. Some facilities offer private workout rooms, hot tubs, and saunas and provide limousine service to and from the facility.

Some luxury centers allow their upscale clients to bring their children with them and provide services and recreational activities for those children in luxury surroundings. There are facilities that allow clients to bring their pets to rehab with them and provide a complete line of pet services including grooming, massages and even pet therapy.

In short, the more amenities the facility offers, the higher the price tag.

Location of the Facility

The location of the facility is another factor in the ultimate cost of seeking treatment. It stands to reason that services provided at a facility located with an ocean or waterfront view, or a center located on a secluded mountain top, are going to cost more than one located in the inner-city.

Luxury-type facilities that were built specifically to be a treatment center are probably going to cost more than one located in a former residence or office building.

Again, if you can afford it, you can choose the surroundings in which you go through alcohol and drug treatment, whether it is on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, or in a bleak government-maintained building in the city.

Luxury Treatment Programs

Going to drug or alcohol rehab does not mean you have to give up the luxurious surroundings and amenities that you are used to. If money is not an issue, you can find a facility that can provide you all of the services that you desire, but expect to pay an average between $20,000 to $80,000 a month for your treatment program, and depending on how many extra services you require, up to $120,000 a month.

Typical Treatment Programs

The vast majority of drug and alcohol residential treatment programs in the United States offer very few, if any, luxury amenities. They mostly provide the basics: a room with a bed, bathroom, television, and space to store your personal items. At some facilities, you can save money if you do not mind sharing a room.

If you do not need luxury amenities and are looking for a facility that offers high-quality drug and alcohol treatment services, you can find many of them with an average cost between $10,000 and $20,000 a month.

Low-Cost Treatment Programs

If you have health insurance, you can find low-cost treatment options by finding facilities that accept private insurance. Your insurance plan may not cover all of the costs of your alcohol and drug treatment, but most of them today will pay for detoxification services, treatment of withdrawal symptoms, and psychological counseling for substance abuse problems.

Most insurance plans will no longer pay for residential treatment, so most patients who rely on private insurance to pay for their treatment choose outpatient programs instead. The "average" cost of an outpatient program is around $1,400, but some outpatient programs can cost $10,000 a month.

If you find that you need residential treatment, and your insurance will not pay for it, many facilities will work out a payment plan with you for their residential services, so that you can pay by the month while receiving services.

Free Treatment Programs

If you do not have insurance and you have limited financial resources, there are still alcohol and drug treatment options available to you. Many state and local health or social services departments offer low-cost or free alcohol and drug treatment programs based on your income and ability to pay. Because they are free, however, there may be a waiting list to get into the programs, but they are available in most areas.

Some treatment services, such as detox and withdrawal treatment, can be obtained free for those who qualify for Medicaid or Medicare.

There are also free drug and alcohol treatment programs offered by non-profit or charity organizations and faith-based groups. These organizations can offer everything from detoxification services to individual and group counseling, to sober-living homes, and support group participation.

And of course, there is Alcoholics Anonymous, a completely free support group in which millions have learned to live a sober life since it was founded in 1935.

If you are serious about quitting drugs or alcohol, there is help available no matter what your financial situation.

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