Paying for rehab: 5 things you should know

Rehab is often expensive, but financial aid is available. You simply need to know where to look. Read on for tips on financing rehab here.

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ARTICLE OVERVIEW: Rehab is an investment in yourself, but treatment can be pricey. Both outpatient and inpatient rehab can cost thousands of dollars per treatment episode. BUT there are ways to cut expenses. Ideas on how to pay here.


Who Needs Rehab?

The purpose of any rehab is to help people who struggle with substance use disorder restart their life into a better one. And the need for rehab affects more people than you may think.

The National Survey on Drug Abuse and Health reported that 22.5 million people aged 12 or older had a substance use disorders in 2016. The numbers are divided into two main sections: alcohol and drug problems.

  • 15.1 million people aged 12+ had an alcohol use disorder.
  • 7.4 million people aged 12+ had an illicit drug use disorder

But how many individuals really need the inpatient treatment?

Pretty much all of them. The same survey reported that 1 in 13 people aged 12 or older need substance use. This makes an estimated 21 million people aged 12 or older that needed a substance use treatment. The numbers break down into age category:

  • 1.1 million adolescents aged 12 to 17
  • 5.3 million young adults aged 18 to 25
  • 14.5 million adults aged 26 or older needed

Furthermore, people who qualify for treatment need it as soon as possible! Risks of drug use include overdose and death. And this is not a scare tactic. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reported that in 2016, there were 64,000 drug overdose deaths in the U.S. This number has been steadily growing, especially related to overdoses caused by painkiller medications.

Is Rehab for Me?

Rehab programs are for individuals who want to beat addiction, and to start living their life over with healthy habits. If you are not sure whether you have a substance abuse problem, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you feel an urge (cravings) to drink or use drugs?
  • Do you have any financial, legal, or family problems due to your substance use?
  • Do you hide or lie about your use?
  • Do you need excuses to drink or use drugs?
  • Have you failed in quitting?
  • Do you continue to use no matter the consequences?

If more of the answers are positive, maybe it’s about time you see an addiction professional. To be more sure of a diagnosis, take a look into this online addiction screening tool by NIDA.

What’s Covered?

Rehab programs offer variety of medical, psychological, and social services. They can offer many evidence-based approaches to treat addiction. In general, when you’re paying for rehab…you’re looking at costs that range from detox services to counseling services to room and board. But a reputable rehab won’t offer you a one-size-fits-all program.

In fact, NIDA’s best practices in addiction treatment state that rehab experiences should be individualized, or customized, to the person needing help.
In this way, no rehab program is alike. Instead, program suggestions are made according to the patient’s needs and/or their drug of choice. Typical services that should be included in the total cost of rehab include:

1. Medications. 

Medications are prescribed based on the drug of abuse, and medical history. Some of the most common medications used in rehab settings (either detox or outpatient psychiatry) that are supervised by attending doctors include:

1.1. Medications for alcohol dependence such as acamprosate, disulfiram, naltrexone, benzodiazepines, and barbituates.
1.2. Medications for opiate or opioid dependence like clonidine, naltrexone, buprenorphine, methadone, and naloxone.
1.3. Medications for stimulant dependence including desipramine, benzodizepines, disulfiram, and ioresal.

2. Psychological treatment. 

The core of any program is the psychotherapy. These therapies can help you why you get addicted at the first place, and will address directly to your psycho-emotional issues. Moreover, it will teach you how to avoid relapse, and how to deal with triggers and stressful situations. Some of the most common therapies that are billed by 45-60 minute session include:

  • Behavioral Therapy
  • Individual Therapy
  • Group Therapy
  • Family Therapy

3. Educations services, social services, and aftercare.

Education and aftercare play a huge part in your overall treatment. During the educational sessions you will learn how addiction changes your brain, and how it affects not only you, but also your loved ones. Moreover, you will learn how to live a substance-free life. The aftercare services occur once you have finished your program. Their main purpose is to help you remain sober. Some of the services include:

  • Counseling
  • Coaching
  • Living into halfway house
  • Mentoring
  • Support groups

Average Costs

Over 14,500 specialized rehab facilities provide medical detox, counseling, pharmacotherapy, and many other services to people with substance use disorders. Generally, inpatient programs are more expensive than the outpatient because they provide living at the facility and constant medical care. The average costs of some of the most common services for treating addiction include:

Detox: According to the medical journal, Health Services Research the average cost of detox program varies between $6-12K. The final outcome depends from the length of the stay, drug testing, doctor consultations, and prescription medications.

Psychotherapy: Counseling sessions cost from almost free to $150 or more per hour.

Outpatient Rehab: This type of rehab program ranges between $50-$135 per day. A typical treatment episode of 10-12 weeks can cost around $6,000, depending on treatment intensity.

Inpatient Rehab: A day in this program may cost from $235-700. A typical treatment episode of 30 days can cost thousands of dollars, depending on location, services, and specialty.

Medication Assisted Treatment: One year of methadone maintenance costs about $6,550, while the cost of buprenorphine varies from $3,100-$6,700 annually depending from the retail formula. Naltrexone costs about $14,100 per year.

Find more information on the average treatment costs in these research papers:

Factors That Affect The Final Costs

Rehab programs can range in price drastically, and the final cost of the rehab stay depends from the services you get. Some low-cost rehabs can cost $7.5K per month, while some high-end programs can charge up to $120K.

Some of the factors that affect the price of a rehab program include:

1. Services offered. 

One program can offer many services including anything from spa therapy, yoga, acupuncture, art therapy, to life coaches and special eating menu. Some luxury programs provide private rooms. Note that some of the services are charged extra, so always ask the staff what services are included in your program.

2. Length.

The length of a rehab program plays a huge factor on the final price of stay. A short-term stay of one month is cheaper than a 90-day program.

3. Location.

Facilities that are located in desirable locations such as beaches, islands, up in the mountains, or on a resort are more expensive than a standard, local-based rehab. Don’t forget to include your transportation costs if you travel abroad.

4. Type of program. 

Inpatient rehabs offer 24/7 medical care and living space for their patients. Because of this they are more expensive that the outpatient programs.

How to Pay

Even if you have insurance to help pay for rehab, there’s a good chance that you’ll still have some out-of-pocket costs. There are a few ways that you can go about financing rehab and make treatment more affordable, regardless of whether you have insurance or not. How? Here are some ideas:

Access your personal savings. Digging into savings is one of the quickest and easiest ways to go about financing rehab. You can withdraw money from savings and similar accounts, such as money markets. If you have retirement accounts or life insurance policies, you can usually borrow money from these as well.

Arrange payment directly with the rehab. Many rehab facilities are also willing to help individuals who can’t afford treatment. They may offer sliding scale fees, for instance, which are based on your income. You might also be able to work out financing or payment arrangements, which will make it easier to pay a large rehab bill.

Apply for a scholarship. Search for help through a local addiction community center. Foundations or individuals often sponsor people during rehab and may pay for part of all of your time in rehab to honor a loved one.

Help with Paying

If you’re suffering from a substance abuse problem and ready to seek help, there’s a good chance that you’re facing some barriers…mainly the costs! SAMHSA estimates that 62.5 million people in the U.S. are in need of insurance coverage for mental health issues like addiction. Both inpatient and outpatient rehab are effective, but expensive, options.

However, investing in addiction treatment is typically worth it in the long run, as it can save you a great deal of money. Individuals who overcome addiction will be able to save money on:

  • Buying drugs or alcohol.
  • Medical problems due to substance abuse.
  • Relationship problems and divorce.
  • Legal troubles.
  • Job losses.

There are a number of places you can turn if you need help paying for rehab. Family and friends may be very supportive of your decision, for instance, and willing to lend you some of the money you need for treatment. Your employer might also offer assistance to any employee that needs drug or alcohol rehab. Employee assistance programs may help pay for rehab or offer free or reduced cost counseling.

Finally, call your state Department of Health and Social Services. These government organizations manage federal grants that offer vouchers to some select rehabs in your state. Call until you speak with someone who can help.

The Affordable Care Act

Also consider that rehab is becoming more and more affordable by law. In March of 2010, the Affordable Care Act was signed into law by President Barack Obama. Amongst other things, this law requires health insurance companies to offer a policy with mental health and substance abuse coverage. Co-pays for these services must also be no higher than co-pays for other basic medical services. This means that policyholders will not be required to pay an outrageous amount of money for treatment.
Many people wonder whether the Affordable Care Act is still active. Contrary to popular belief, as per Forbes Magazine, the law is active. Only the Individual Mandate has been repealed. This was the requirement under the law that required individuals to sign up for health insurance or face a tax penalty. The Mandate was repealed December 2018 by Republicans as part of their tax reform bill, and takes full effect in 2019.

You can purchase private health insurance through the Health Insurance Exchange beginning in October 2013. Visit to create an account and begin the application process. Or check out this SAMHSA infographic to learn how to get addiction health insurance.

5 Tips and Things You Should Know

Keep in mind that rehab is something of an investment, and you should protect your investment. There’s no sense in paying for rehab if you’re going to waste that money by not following through. We’ve put together a few tips to help you make your time in rehab successful.

1. Paying for rehab yourself can help you take charge of your own health. Make arrangements to pay back any money that you borrow to pay for rehab, and honor those arrangements. This includes money that you borrow from your employer, family members, friends, and even yourself.

2. Your time in rehab is your responsibility. Make the most of it. Plus, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Everyone needs a little help sometimes, and a strong support system during rehab and recovery can give you the extra confidence and determination that you need.

3. The energy that you put into rehab will pay off in the end. Have a relapse prevention plan in place before you leave rehab. Avoid places where you’re likely to abuse your drug of choice, as well as people who don’t understand or respect your decision to have a different life. The temptation may be too much for you.

4. Rehab is just the beginning of a new life. But, change takes time. Realize that getting and staying clean and sober won’t happen overnight. It will take a great deal of time and determination. Every day that you are drug-free is like putting money into the bank, “paying it forward” for a great life!

5. Understand that everyone makes mistakes. If you slip up, don’t give up on your recovery. Relapse can be part of a learning process. Learn from your mistake, don’t repeat it, and move on.

Your Questions Are Welcomed!

Hopefully, you now realize that paying for rehab doesn’t have to be grueling. There are a number of resources out there that you can use to your advantage. However, if you have any other rehab payment questions, you can leave them in the comments section below. Our readers are important to us, and we look forward to helping you move toward a sober lifestyle.

Reference Sources: NCBI: Benefit–Cost in the California Treatment Outcome Project: Does Substance Abuse Treatment “Pay for Itself”? 
The White House: Substance Abuse and the Affordable Care Act
SAMHSA: Health Reform
MCCA: Employee Assistance Program
NIDA: Is drug addiction treatment worth its cost? 
SAMHSA: CBHSQ Report, February 2016
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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