An inpatient addiction rehab program allows you to step away from the addiction triggers you face at home and in your community. During your time in the program, you live in a safe and sober facility, surrounded by others in recovery, and you work on your addiction around the clock.
This is the most intense form of addiction care. It could be the right form of care for you if you’ve tried less intense treatment types, such as outpatient care, and experienced a relapse.
Not surprisingly, this intense form of care can be more expensive than other forms of treatment. Inpatient programs offer a sophisticated level of care that is simply more expensive to deliver.
Understanding how much the care might cost can be a little difficult, however. Reputable data about costs isn’t updated yearly, and anecdotal information about costs can come in ranges that are hard to use for budgetary purposes.
However, you can use ballpark figures to estimate your financial obligations. There are also resources you can tap into to pay for the care you need.
When most people think about inpatient addiction care, they think about treatment that is delivered in a private facility that focuses exclusively on addiction and mental health issues. But hospitals can provide another form of addiction care, and many do.
In a hospital-based inpatient rehab program, you get the care you need while you are admitted to a hospital. This form of care is typically reserved for people with significant mental health challenges, such as schizophrenia, or severe physical health issues, such as uncontrolled infections.
According to research published in the journal Psychiatric Services, inpatient drug use disorder treatment in a community hospital for about five days comes with a reimbursement rate of $4,591. Those costs go up for mental health issues. Inpatient treatment for schizophrenia came with a reimbursement rate of $8,509 for about 11 days.
It is important to note that the length of stay for these issues is relatively short. Few people would claim they are free of an addiction issue after just five days.
But this kind of care is sometimes used to help people feel stable enough to enter another form of care, where they really begin to dig into the root causes of the addiction.
Residential treatment programs take many forms, but they share one common characteristic. In a program like this, people do not experience a hospital environment. They don’t receive medical therapies like blood transfusions, and they don’t spend the day resting in a hospital bed.
In a residential treatment program, people are healthy enough to participate in care. They live in the facility while they are undergoing treatment.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) assesses the fees charged by programs like this, but that research doesn’t happen as frequently as families might like. In fact, a 2003 report from SAMHSA is the latest version available to families searching online.
In this report, authors suggest that nonhospital residential programs come with a cost that ranges from $308 to $18,482. This is a huge range, and it highlights why discussing costs for residential treatment can be so difficult.
Bare-bones programs are designed to provide addiction care with the lowest price tag possible. Programs like this are designed to appeal to families that desperately need addiction care, but they may have no way to pay for that care. By keeping prices low, the administrators hope to help as many people recover as they can, even if price is an issue for some.
One way in which a program like this might lower the price tag is by increasing the number of people who can be admitted at any given time. Looking over research published in 2009 in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment makes this relationship quite clear.
Researchers found that programs with the largest per-week cost, averaging about $2,000, had about eight patients at a time. Meanwhile, programs with the smallest weekly cost, averaging about $200, had 93 patients at a time.
In a program with a large number of clients, you might spend quite a bit of time in group therapy sessions, which allows therapists to offer care to a number of people at once. But in a smaller program, you might have more time with a counselor in one-on-one sessions.
For some people, this personal attention can mean the difference between recovery and relapse. But for others, this added attention may not be worth the extra expense.
Price can also differ from program to program, depending on the type of addiction you need help with. For example, people who enter treatment programs to address an addiction to an opiate such as heroin might need medications like methadone to help them overcome cravings and maintain sobriety. This medication can be expensive, and it can drive up the cost.
In 2004, the American Psychiatric Association compared the cost of programs with methadone and programs without methadone. Researchers determined that outpatient programs with a methadone component cost about $7,415. Meanwhile, outpatient treatment for addiction without methadone cost $1,433.
This data is a bit dated, but it helps to explain how much of the cost of care can be taken up by medications. Addiction treatment programs have no control over what medications cost, and many people with addictions need those medications to recover.
Those who take medications can expect to pay a higher cost for care than those who do not. There may be no way for the program to lower those costs, even if they want to do so.
Programs can also differ in the number and quality of amenities they provide. Some inpatient programs offer little more than dormitory-style housing, with group meeting rooms and average, cafeteria-style food. Others offer a more luxurious environment that might include:
Programs like this might also build upon the traditional tools used in addiction care, and they may provide their clients with therapies, such as massage, equine-assisted therapy, aromatherapy, acupuncture, and therapeutic exercise.
While not in therapy, people might be encouraged to hike the grounds, swim in the pool, or detox in the sauna. The work done in therapy is very real, but the environment can be akin to a resort and not a therapeutic community.
Programs like this are often associated with the rich and famous, and according to Time Magazine, they can come with a price tag of $100,000 or more. For some families, this price is more than worthwhile, as it allows the person in need to get care in an environment that the person is unlikely to leave. But for others, the price makes the program completely out of reach.
It can be hard to think about paying this much to treat a medical condition like addiction, but it is important to understand that untreated addictions come with their own costs, and those can be just as significant.
The organization True Link Financial conducted a survey to determine the cost of addiction for families. Among those families touched by addiction, 82 percent said the person with the addiction experienced financial difficulty because of it — 48 percent drained retirement or savings accounts, and 42 percent sold assets. Some families tried to help, and they experienced similar financial distress.
When an addiction is in play, it becomes more important than all other priorities the family might have. For the person struggling with addiction, getting the drug takes precedence over everything else. Only when the person is in recovery does that risk begin to fade.
When compared to other consequences of addiction, the cost of recovery can seem reasonable and manageable. For example, the National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that a year of imprisonment costs $24,000 per person, while a year of methadone maintenance costs just $4,700.
It can be hard to think about paying for treatment, but alternatives can be just as significant and expensive. Addictions can take everything from you. Treatment is the best way to get back on track.
Years ago, addictions were considered personal failings. Those with addictions were thought to be so lazy that they were susceptible to the lure of drugs, and no amount of treatment could help them. Much has changed.
Now, researchers know that addictions stem from chemical changes to the cells within the brain. That damage makes impulse control difficult, and it causes cravings that can be extremely difficult to ignore. In short, addiction is now considered a medical condition.
As a result, insurance companies can and do provide coverage for addiction care. But they can put limits on the type of care they will cover, and they can specify how long the program can last before the company no longer pays for the care.
According to an analysis in Health Affairs, changes in laws regarding health insurance may begin to shift the focus of care from residential programs to outpatient programs. If that happens, it may become harder to get covered care in an inpatient program.
But for now, many insurance companies do cover at least part of inpatient care. Individuals can call their insurance companies to determine if this applies to them, and if so, how much the insurance company might pay.
Some treatment programs are made to help those without the means to pay for care. These programs offer sliding-scale payment options that allow people to pay an amount that fits within their budget, even if that amount is smaller than what the facility might normally charge. Not all programs offer this help, but some do.
Finally, some programs offer financing options so that people in need can get care that helps them now. They can then pay for that care in small monthly installments until the entire bill is paid. For some people, this is the best way to cover the cost of care.
If the idea of paying for treatment is keeping you away from the help you need, don’t let it be a barrier. Treatment programs are often willing to work with individuals to find the best solution.
(July 2012). An Examination of Costs, Charges, and Payments for Inpatient Psychiatric Treatment in Community Hospitals. Psychiatric Services. Retrieved January 2019 from https://ps.psychiatryonline.org/doi/10.1176/appi.ps.201100402
(July 2003). The ADSS Cost Study: Costs of Substance Abuse Treatment in the Specialty Sector. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Retrieved January 2019 from http://www.dldocs.stir.ac.uk/documents/adsscosts.pdf
(February 2008). The Economic Costs of Substance Abuse Treatment: Updated Estimates and Cost Bands for Program Assessment and Reimbursement. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment. Retrieved January 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2614666/
(July 2004). Data Show Wide Variation in Addiction Treatment Costs. Psychiatric News. Retrieved January 2019 from https://psychnews.psychiatryonline.org/doi/full/10.1176/pn.39.13.0390011
(November 2018). Parents Are Cutting Off Their Opioid-Addicted Kids—and It's the Toughest Decision of Their Lives. TIME. Retrieved January 2019 from http://time.com/money/longform/parents-opioid-addiction-money-cost/
(December 2018). National Survey: Financial Challenges Jeopardize Recovery from Addiction and Substance Use. True Link Financial. Retrieved January 2019 from https://www.truelinkfinancial.com/national-survey-financial-challenges-jeopardize-recovery-from-addiction-and-substance-use-disorder
(January 2018). Is Drug Addiction Treatment Worth Its Cost? National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved January 2019 from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/frequently-asked-questions/drug-addiction-treatment-worth-its-cost
(August 2011). The Looming Expansion and Transformation of Public Substance Abuse Treatment Under the Affordable Care Act. Health Affairs. Retrieved January 2019 from https://www.healthaffairs.org/doi/abs/10.1377/hlthaff.2011.0480