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Costs of Alcohol Rehab

Page Overview

Even though we don’t like to admit it, one important factor in deciding which alcohol rehab to choose is cost. Some alcohol rehabs are free, but for most others, there are costs associated with every step along the way. You will want to know what those costs are so that you can be prepared to put together a treatment plan that works within your budget and doesn’t add more stress to your situation.

Introduction

While you might be tempted to choose a rehab based solely on what the facility charges, cost won’t always give you an accurate picture of quality. Some very affordable rehabs offer the most effective recovery programs, while others aren’t able to meet clients’ needs for sustained sobriety. Some high-priced luxurious rehabs are all fluff, making clients pay for a vacation rather than treatment, while other luxury rehabs incorporate the best principles and allow for positive healing and transformation. It all depends on the staff, programs and therapies offered, and the center’s commitment to recovery in the long run. Rather than letting cost be the determining factor, you should rely on what information you can find out regarding the rehab’s quality of treatment services offered.

If you think rehab in general is too overpriced and you can’t afford it, you are not alone in your thinking. In fact, only about 10% of people in need of rehab get the help they need, and cost is one of the most common barriers to treatment. Yes, rehab takes a commitment of both time and money, but when compared to the ongoing costs of supporting an alcohol addiction and its consequences, we can quickly see that getting help now is far less costly. According to the National Institutes of Health, abuse of tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs costs more than $700 billion annually in expenses related to crime, lost work productivity, and health care alone, not to mention the relational and spiritual costs.

According to its most recent study, the Center for Disease Control estimates that excessive drinking costs $746 per person in the United States. $94.2 billion (42 percent) of the total economic costs of excessive alcohol consumption was borne by federal, state, and local governments while $92.9 billion (41.5 percent) was borne by excessive drinkers and their family members. Costs include loss of productivity, health care costs, law enforcement and other criminal justice expenses, and motor vehicle crash costs. Other non-monetary costs include that of pain and suffering on the part of family members and loved ones.

By planning ahead and learning about your options, you can find ways to afford alcohol rehab.

Intervention

If an alcoholic is initially unwilling to go to rehab, the first cost might be paying for an intervention by a professional to convince the patient of the necessity for treatment. An intervention is an effective tool families can use to share their concerns for their addicted loved one and the need for treatment. There are different ways to hold an intervention, each with its own costs.

Some families try to stage their own intervention, which doesn’t cost anything other than bringing the family together. But an intervention that is held by the family without the help of a professional can go very wrong, making the situation worse, and is not advised. During this emotional time, it is helpful to have a professional guide the situation.

Costs for intervention services begin around $1,500 and can end up being close to $10,000, depending on your location, the facility’s location, and the complexity of your situation. Dr. Karl Benzio

Some intervention specialists act as consultants, speaking with family members and helping prepare them for the intervention over the phone. In these cases the intervention professional may even be present via phone or Internet connection during the process, but is not physically there.

Still other interventionists will fly out to meet the family in person, and physically be there at the intervention to guide the entire process from start to finish. Costs for intervention services begin around $1,500 and can end up being close to $10,000, depending on your location, the facility’s location, and the complexity of your situation. It is also important to find out if there are any hidden costs (airfare, hotel) before hiring an interventionist.

Medical Detox

As soon as the individual has committed to a rehab program, the real work can begin. The first phase of recovery is detox. Depending on the patient’s needs, substances used, and duration of addiction, they may or may not require medical detox. Alcohol is a difficult and dangerous substance to withdraw from, and often requires medical detox. To be safe, it is advised to detox from alcohol under medical supervision, or with medical help close by in case there are any complications.

    Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal:
  • Anxiety
  • Shakiness
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Headache
    Serious complications of alcohol withdrawal:
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • Delirium tremens (rapid heartbeat, extreme confusion, fever)
  • Extreme anxiety or paranoia
Medical detox means the person will be supervised around the clock by medical staff that is equipped and qualified to monitor vital signs, administer medications, and provide supportive care. This type of detox allows the patient to withdraw in a safe and more comfortable setting, as medication can be given to ease symptoms.

Before choosing a medical detox facility for alcohol withdrawal, check to make sure the facility is licensed and they have medical staff on hand. This will provide the safest alcohol detox possible.

Medical detox can be pricey, because of the level of care necessary for this stage of recovery. On the low end, you can expect to pay $250 – $500 per day, and the high end is around $1,500 per day for medical detox. Expenses for prescriptions and other medical support may be added to the cost or included, depending on the facility. Most insurance companies will cover medical detox, so check with the facility you are working with about what insurance they accept. Most low cost rehabs or long-term inexpensive ministry rehabs do not provide medical detox in order to keep costs low.

Residential Care

Once the person has detoxed and can think more clearly, they need to spend a large amount of time in therapy and counseling to heal inner struggles and learn skills to manage life’s stressors, adversities, temptations, and opportunities. Residential treatment offers around-the-clock care in a structured environment. Clients in this setting are cared for in a home-like environment and participate in therapy sessions and other recovery activities throughout the day.

Costs for residential care vary the most of any stage of recovery. This is because rehab programs offer a wide range of amenities and services, and some charge more for a high-end vacation-like setting. Meals are generally included in the cost of residential treatment, and many facilities include bedding, laundry facilities, and use of exercise equipment in with their charges. Standard inpatient rehab programs can range from $2,500 per week to $7,000 per week. Luxury rehabs charge in the range of $20,000 per week.

While all treatment groups, recovery meetings, and weekly individual therapy sessions are included in the fees, some facilities include while others charge extra for services such as medical internist, medications, psychiatric evaluation and follow-ups, child care, case management services, social skills development, self-help group meetings, neurotransmitter testing, equine therapy, and employment training. These costs would all be charged on a case-by-case basis, and you can inquire about what is included and what is considered as ancillary and extra cost services when you contact a facility.

The cheapest residential options are the longer term, non-medical, usually ministry type programs. They run 3 – 14 months in duration and are inexpensive because they don’t have medical services or licensed therapists and have pretty simple living conditions. They can be $300 – $2,500 per month. They aren’t the ideal starting point for your treatment, but are either a great step down option from medical rehab or a strong option if your insurance is poor and budget is limited.

Partial Hospitalization

Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP), or day treatment, is a step down from residential rehab. This level of care was designed for those who need a structured environment, but do not require 24 hour supervision. During this stage of recovery, the individual will participate in therapeutic groups and activities four to six hours per day, five days a week, and will return home in the evenings.

The cost for this type of treatment is much less than residential rehab, because room and board are not necessary. Average weekly cost is usually $1,500 or less for this type of treatment and is usually covered by insurance for at least several weeks. Again, extra services might be charged separately, such as psychiatric services, meals or snacks during the day, or childcare.

Outpatient Care

Once an individual has completed residential or partial hospitalization treatment, they are ready to move on to outpatient care. Intensive outpatient (IOP) rehab is usually 3 hours per day for 3 days per week and much like partial hospitalization, the person participates in therapy and activities during the day and returns home at night. The average cost of IOP care is $500 to $700 per week and is often covered by insurance.

Outpatient care is usually a 60-minute therapy session once per week and fees are between $50-150 per session depending on the training of the therapist. These therapy sessions can be any combination of individual, couples, marital, or family therapy and are usually covered in part by insurance depending on whether you go to an in-network provider or go out-of-network for services.

Sober Living

Sober living is an important step in the rehab process, and it should not be underestimated. Some treatment facilities operate sober living homes; other times these group living situations can be found through community programs. Sober living homes have regulations that must be followed, such as absolutely no drug or alcohol use, residents must work or be looking for work, and residents must participate regularly in support group meetings.

This type of living situation after rehab is an effective way to help the recovering alcoholic remain sober, be encouraged by caring individuals, and live in a safe, alcohol-free setting. Most people who live in sober living homes pay rent in the range of $300 to $6,000 per month, depending mostly on location, amenities, and whether staff or treatment occurs in the house. Sober living facilities sometimes include utilities and other living expenses, but most require residents to pay for their own food, transportation, laundry services, and basic living expenses.

Medical Necessity

When you have insurance, some have packages with no addiction coverage, but detox services are covered by your medical coverage, not addiction coverage. If your insurance does have addiction benefits, the term you need to know is “Medical Necessity.” This means your insurance has the right to refuse payment if they believe the services were not necessary and were more than what you medically needed. This is even though your policy states you have 30 days of residential treatment, 60 days of PHP, and 50 outpatient sessions per year. Insurance will only pay when they assess them as meeting their criteria of medically necessity.

An example: if your husband is drinking socially for 4 months with no problems, your insurance will say treatment is not medically necessary so they will not pay if he goes to rehab, PHP, IOP, or even outpatient sessions. If he starts to struggle, it could be depression, legal, marital, or some other area, they might authorize outpatient sessions to start with saying that was medically necessary, but PHP or residential is too expensive for the minimal alcohol problem at this time.

It is important to talk to an experienced professional, as they usually know what level of care your insurance will pay for based on your clinical situation. They can also draw out the information to get the insurance to cover the care you really need and are entitled to. The insurance will always try to push or divert you to the cheapest level because they are paying. An experienced professional knows the insurance game and can advocate for the best treatment for your situation.

Transformational Care

The final, and longest, stage of recovery is after care, or Transformational Care. It is during this time that the person puts everything they learned in rehab into practice in their real life, and then keeps on learning, practicing, and applying those skills.

Transformational care is extremely important for preventing relapse, because it allows the individual to receive support and counseling as they transition back to normal life and continue always moving forward. Recovering alcoholics are encouraged to participate in some form of after care.

For some, this longer term and less intensive care is offered in a residential setting as a stepdown from a medical program for those not needing treatment, but not able to live independently yet. These residential situations can be free to $1,000 per month.

Moving forward in life, continued counseling sessions, as needed, either individually or in a group, can be scheduled on a case-by-case basis and charged accordingly. 12 step meetings like Alcoholics Anonymous or Christian programs like Celebrate Recovery or Overcomers in Christ are free and provide ongoing support for continued transformation. Your local church often has many free growth opportunities like Bible studies, small groups, couples home fellowships, retreats, or 1:1 discipleship programs.

Intentionality and awareness that transitional after care provides should never stop. When you get complacent, you will be at risk for setback and possible relapse, which is why so many see this as the most important phase in recovery. To find a secular support group or after care program near you, you can use SAMHSA’s Treatment Service Locator. For Celebrate Recovery Christian Support Groups, click here.

Final Thoughts


Treatment for alcohol addiction, or alcoholism, is expensive and is life long. But not treating it will cost you so much more; possibly even your life. With a better understanding of the many options in the treatment system and your insurance, you can piece together the best acute and long-term options to not only save, but also transform your life.