Why is Rehab so expensive? But, how true is this?

The fees for residential rehab range widely, from under $5,000 per month to well over 10 times that amount. And many may be tempted to think that this is expensive. Well, first: Addiction is a real disease. Just like diabetes or cancer.

Addiction is a chronic, often relapsing brain disease that causes compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences to the addicted individual and to those around him or her. Although the initial decision to take drugs is voluntary for most people, the brain changes that occur over time challenge an addicted person’s self-control and hamper his or her ability to resist intense impulses to take drugs.

And just like diabetes and cancer, addiction is a condition that requires intensive treatment. Do you ignore cancer because you think it’s too expensive?  Of course not.

Yet when it comes to paying for addiction treatment, many of us don’t feel that we have the same level of financial help at our disposal. Only last year, the death rate due to substance abuse stands at 72,000  a number that has been growing ever since 1997. And according to Cancer Department, In 2017, an estimated 15,270 children and adolescents ages 0 to 19 were diagnosed with cancer and 1,790 died of the disease. Substance abuse taking the lead among the youths, and adults as well due to increased cases of depression, mental problems and worsening economic crisis.

You don’t want to bury your son, husband, or loved one, esp. when they can be saved through proper treatment. Rehab is priced fairly and the amount charged can be broken into reasonable items, but I’ll give a little light on these three:

  1. Professional StaffingDrug and alcohol counselors staff some rehabs and others are staffed by master’s level, or in some cases, doctoral level clinicians who have years of experience in the field of addiction treatment. The quality and training of the professional staff will significantly affect the price of a rehab. These clinicians will provide individual treatment as well as other fundamental treatment services such as groups, treatment/discharge planning, documentation, and communication with outside providers and family. Consider how capable the hands are that you are putting your future in. Given the nature of the disease and expertise required, we can agree that high level of professional support is inevitable.
  2. Appropriate Diet: Consider how important a healthy diet is in recovery. The food itself is critical. Some rehabs will provide limited food options, while others will provide freshly prepared organic, nutritious and well-balanced meals with an emphasis on farm to table meats and produce. It is also important that you know whether your vegetarian, vegan, kosher, lactose-intolerant, low sodium, gluten free and other dietary requests will be honored. While this will likely increase the expense of a rehab, it is not an area that should be compromised. Healthy eating can actually help you stay sober.
  3. Treatment ProcedureTraditionally, group meetings and group therapy have been the gold standard for rehab. However, a higher priced rehab may offer more individual sessions and more holistic treatment options than its lower cost competitor. As with anything, customized and individualized treatment will cost more. This is the heart of the rehab, and the reason why you joined-up in the first place.

A number of other hidden expenses and some which are obvious can add-up, and believe me, this doesn’t leave much profit to a rehab as such. Most rehabs are actually owned by people who are more oriented to helping the community than making profit, a number of these are owned by religious organisations, the government, philanthropists, etc.

For Life’s sake, I believe the expenses involved are worth it. What do you think?

~ Pauline.

Regular User Asked on November 20, 2018 in Substance Abuse.
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12 Answer(s)

Wow! Thanks for the information Pauline.

Regular User Answered on November 20, 2018.
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You’re most welcome, I’m glad you found it useful :).

Regular User Answered on November 20, 2018.
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The first thing I want to say is that treatment is never expensive when it is about saving a life…

The second thing is that in your discussion, you only mention Residential Rehab who are just short term money scams. The reason I say that is because it is not a 1, 3 or 6 months spell in a $50,000 per month treatment who is going to cure a patient from his addiction problems. Patients and families want the easy way out, hoping “this time it will work and my son/daughter will be cured”………………………………………………….. for a high fee. Residential rehabs feed to that myth. Success after treatment in Residential rehabs: 1%. Is that good enough for all that money spent ? I could give you countless example of my former patients going to Residential rehabs who died within 6 months.

Addicts need Long-term Maintenance Care because there is no cure to the disease of addiction. Most patients need treatment for life where they can be monitored daily if they wish. The solution is Maintenance Outpatient Rehabs (MATs for example) where patients can be helped for life if they need to. These treatments are very effective and the average cost is $12 per day or $360 per month. It is free with Medicaid. These Outpatient rehab facilities have doctors, nurses and counselors to help 365 days per year if needed. At $12 per day, money is no issue compared to the thousands of $ patients can spend on drugs and alcohol.

Rehab doesn’t always have to be expensive.

Super User Answered on November 22, 2018.
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This sounds so affordable and very realistic. 12$ a day for a life time program run by experienced personnel is indeed a real mission towards feasible recovery and it’s impossible to compete with; seeing the numbers that have actually stabilized through this system. Thanks for clarifying Oliver!

Moderator Answered on November 22, 2018.
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I concur, $12 a day for an outpatient service should be affordable enough. This only means that treatment either way is never expensive given how valuable a person in question regards their life. The danger I am now learning from Oliver is patients who seek “quick recovery” programs, promised by people who charge them so high in hopes that they’d get better over night. We’ve had several discussions on this platform and we’ve witnessed quite many people getting into treatment and all I can conclude based on these is “there’s nothing like quick recovery” for an addict patient. Changing how the body functions (a habit that most likely has been ingrained in someone’s brain for a very long period of time) can not happen over night. Thanks Olivier for your insight, always love views that come out of knowledge and experience.

Kind regards.

Regular User Answered on November 22, 2018.
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Nice discussion here, thanks everyone for your views. I’m just curious, everyone is mentioning that $360 a month is “very” affordable for treatment: how should an unemployed, friendless, family neglected and unstable addict afford that? Seriously, are you not assuming a lot?

Regular User Answered on November 23, 2018.
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Hmm… JCarter, sorry for asking this but; how did such an unemployed affected person as per your description afford buying drugs in the first place? And besides, Olivier mentioned that there’s a free option – Medicaid, I don’t know what else can be done if this is insufficient!

Regular User Answered on November 23, 2018.
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I was actually talking about myself. The journey through addiction is not easy  any day. Life is hard, you know. Nothing works as advertised. Medicaid is well and good (perhaps), but we don’t all qualify for it. Please look at eligibility measures. I was turned down several times when I applied, and getting some treatment on my own was really hard. I say this from experience. My question, is for my fellow friends in the same brackets;

I’ll start by answering your question: How did they afford buying drugs in the first place? By doing anything and everything they can (and by this, I generally mean illegal, despicable and sometimes life risking things). In one of the support groups, I heard someone say this: “A normal person will change their behaviors to meet their goals and morals. An addict will change their goals and morals to meet their behaviors.”  

In a withdrawal state, its not you any more. It’s like you are being torn apart, piece by piece, and it feels like, well, nothing else, like you are dying at this very instant. The drugs take over your actions and if it means dealing more drugs to get what you want, stealing a purse to survive, or doing prostitution to get some money to buy drugs, you just do it, without question or thinking twice. I mean, what’s more important than life? It’s really hard.

Once you get back to it, that’s when you pray, wish, hope and everything one can, that only if you had an hour of normal life, that would suffice. And when eventually you decide to get started onto the journey towards treatment, believe me, (at least when it happened to me), you never want to go back to your old ways. I must admit at first it seems like you’ll get better over night, but like others have said, it takes time, and perseverance. Now you want treatment, application to Medicaid seems to take forever for approval, and just when you are hoping for good news, you are told, “sorry, you’re not eligible”. You don’t know how to work a descent job (you can’t get one in the first place given your condition), and still given your condition, there’s no family and friends you’re comfortable reaching out to, and at this moment, believe me, $12 a day is like 1 million dollar. I could go on and on, but I guess I’ll just leave it to that, its not very affordable to everyone, and I am not blaming anyone for this, its up to us the addicts, but I was hoping there could be brainstorming on how one can make it through treatment especially if they are very poor, ineligible to Medicaid (think about those outside the US too), and are not fortunate as I was being taken up by my friend’s church through the entire treatment process.



Regular User Answered on November 23, 2018.
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I’m sorry Carter about what you’ve been going through. It’s not easy, I now understand. I’m glad you managed to get help, and I think some things are just beyond mere talk, and I am someone who believes that God always makes ways if someone in need is willing to go an extra mile to find the help. It happened to you, you got treatment amidst your own challenges, I’m sure with all options available, if someone in need for medical support did all the recommendations we’ve given, somehow somewhere they’d be helped too. Thanks for sharing your situation. I wish you the best of luck on your new journey to wellness.

Best regards.

Regular User Answered on November 24, 2018.
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JCarter, I am very sorry about what is going on with your life. I hope you feel better and find your way. I would like to suggest that there is always a solution for treatment:

  1. If you can pay cash, it is around $12 per day,
  2. If you can’t pay cash, there is Medicaid if you are eligible,
  3. If you are not eligible for Medicaid, there is a new Government Program called IPRS (it is a year old Government Program). It is for indigent people who can’t pay and are not eligible for Medicaid.

JCarter, please trust me. I know you can get treatment because the Federal Government is giving away hundreds of millions of $ to States to treat and help people like you. Then the States redistribute the $ to LMEs who then pay the clinics for your treatment. It is like Medicaid but easier to implement for patients and clinics. Please call the clinics near you and ask them about their IPRS Program or where you could find one.

With the epidemic going on, nobody is denied treatment because saving a life is more important than $. There is always a solution. I promise.

Super User Answered on November 24, 2018.
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