The Cost to Treat Alcoholism and Addiction

Last Edited: February 18, 2020

Bianka Fisk

Clinically Reviewed
Andrew Lancaster, LPC, MAC

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and certified by an addiction professional.

The cost and benefits of alcohol and drug rehab and how you can afford to get it.

The cost of addiction treatment can vary from being free to costing several thousand dollars each day. It should be noted that you can find treatment regardless of what your budget is. There are also various resources available to you so that you can make the necessary payments.

Different things affect how much rehab costs. These include:

  • Which addiction you have
  • Whether you have co-occurring disorders
  • The type of facility you go to
  • The type of treatment you will receive
  • Whether you also need medical treatment
  • The additional amenities you want to use

Below are some of the average costs that you can expect to pay for different types of treatment:

Detox: if done through an outpatient program, usually costs between $1,000 and $1,500 for the entire treatment. Usually,  it is included in a package, particularly if you attend an inpatient facility. Also, if you are addicted to a substance that has dangerous withdrawal symptoms and requires medical management, the cost can be higher.

Inpatient rehab: costs around $6,000 for a 30 day stay. However, private, well-known centers can charge as much as $20,000 for that same period. A 60 to 90 day program usually costs between $12,000 and $60,000.

Outpatient rehab is available for those with mild addictions and usually costs around $5,000 for three months. Again, private and well-known facilities tend to cost much more, with some reaching $10,000. The cost will vary depending on your wants and needs regarding substance abuse treatment.

Medication can be offered for those with certain addictions, such as methadone treatment for those addicted to heroin. The cost varies depending on what drugs are offered and for how long. A one year methadone program, for instance, will usually cost around $4,700.

Funding Addiction vs. Funding Rehab

You may feel like going to rehab is incredibly expensive, however, in the long run, funding an addiction will cost a lot more. Not only do you have to pay for your substance, you are also more likely to not have an income, and you place a significant cost on society by affecting the criminal justice system and health care provisions. Furthermore, there is the non-financial cost, such as loss of relationships and personal life. Let’s paint a clearer picture of this.

It costs $3,000 per year to buy a 12 pack of alcoholic drinks per day. Even if you do not have any health care issues as a result of this, you have a job to go to and don’t take time off, and don’t end up having brushes with the law, that is still more costly than going through detox, for instance.

How to Get Insurance to Pay for Drug Rehab

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, addiction is now seen on the same level as a mental illness, which means insurance companies must cover at least some of the treatment. Medicaid, Medicare, private, military, and state-financed insurance companies cover addiction treatment. How and what they cover, however, varies greatly.

What insurance companies have come to understand is that not offering coverage for addiction treatment will cost them more in the long run. People who suffer from addictions are more likely to not be in work, which means they can pay less towards their policies. They are also more likely to need frequent medical assistance, which ends up costing the insurance company more. An insurance company makes money by collecting premiums that you don’t use, so it is in their interest to make sure you are as healthy as you can be.

Because insurance is a very complex arena, most insurance companies have now made resources available on their websites to help you find out what your plan covers and doesn’t cover. You can also usually call their helpline. Furthermore, if you have chosen a rehab facility, they can make inquiries for you.

Different types of insurance cover different things. As such:

Public insurance, which is available to make inpatient treatment more affordable. Some treatment facilities are given full or partial subsidies by the federal government. However, they only accept people with specific income requirements which is why you should make sure you check whether you are eligible first. The alternative would be to go to a nonprofit organization, who will be happy to provide you with treatment on a sliding scale, with monthly payments.

Private insurance, which generally costs more than public insurance, but also offers more comprehensive coverage. This means that you can access a wealth of additional benefits if you do have an addiction problem, including:

More treatment options, including a larger variety of providers, in a wider geographical area. A better price, as your policy may cover a very significant amount. While you may still have some out of pocket expenses, they are likely to be quite minimal.

If you have private insurance, it is likely that you can access a full array of treatment options, although you do have to check with your provider. Some of the treatment options include:

  • Inpatient rehab, where you become a resident of the center for a specific period of time, taking you out of your usual environment.
  • High end rehab, where you can access luxury facilities, comfortable amenities, and alternative treatments. However, it is unlikely that your insurance company will pay for those extra amenities.
  • Holistic treatment, which includes such things as herbal treatments, yoga and acupuncture. Only very few insurance companies pay for this, but they do exist.

Before you decide that you want to go to rehab, you need to find out exactly what your insurance does and does not cover. This will prevent you from being in a situation where you finally admit to yourself that you need help, only to then find that you can’t pay for it. You also need to consider whether or not to tell your employer. While it is your right to keep this private, if your employer provides your health insurance package, they may need to know.

Verify Insurance Coverage

Group insurance, which often includes rehab treatment. However, this is one of those situations as described above, where you will have to tell your employer about your problem. That said, under the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008, insurance companies now have to balance addiction treatment with standard medical rehab. This means that there is a possibility that you can still keep the information private from your employer. Thanks to this new law, some 100 million employees in this country have been able to confidentially access services such as long term inpatient treatment, residential rehab, outpatient treatment and detox.

How to Pay for Drug Rehab without Insurance

Very often, rehab facilities have payment options in place so that people can receive the treatment that they need. You have to see rehab as an investment in yourself and one that will save you a lot of money in the long run. However, it still means you have to be able to produce the money required to make this investment. One of the things you need to look into is what the terms and conditions of the finance package are, such as interest rate, finance options, early repayment fees and more. What matters though, is that these options are available for you.

Financing Options for Addiction Rehab

There are other ways for you to raise funds as well. You can:

Sell your personal belongings. These include things like collectibles, antiques, clothes, jewelry, a boat, camper, or car. It can be difficult to sell your own items because of emotional attachment, however, the items may just serve as a reminder of a dark and difficult point in your life anyway. Remember that they are just things, and things are replaceable; your life is not. Plus, you don’t even have to go to a pawn shop anymore and get a low price for them, since there are now so many online selling sites. You can quickly get rid of all your technological gadgets, music collections, art collections, or sports equipment. If you’re not internet savvy, you could even hold a yard sale, for instance. Maybe you have some friends and family members who care enough to donate things for you to sell, thereby raising even more funds.

Ask people for donations. While this may sound like begging, the reality is that it will give you a massive positive boost at the same time. Using online fundraising platforms, for instance, makes it easy to share your story and ask people to help you fund your treatment. You would be surprised to see just how many people are willing to help, from your loved ones to perfect strangers. Going to rehab with the knowledge that people genuinely care also makes it more likely for you to be successful through the process.

Apply for grants. Some grants exist specifically for people to be able to access addiction treatment. Some community organizations also offer grants that you can apply for. Usually, you have to meet a number of stringent criteria in order to be considered for these types of grants. Those criteria vary from one grant to the next, but they usually include:

  • Having a low income
  • Being of a certain ethnic background
  • Being of a certain age
  • Being of a certain gender

Being part of a specific community, such as the LGBTQ community

These grants are also often very specific in terms of how they can be used. For instance, if they are available for inpatient treatment, you usually cannot use them for luxury services such as private rooms, massages, and art therapy. Rather, it must go directly and fully to the actual treatment. One place to find available grants is through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Find private funding to pay for your treatment. If at all possible, paying for treatment outright, be that the full amount, for each session, or over the course of the program, is generally the best solution. This is usually only feasible for those who have work and who want to attend an outpatient facility, usually because the costs are much lower there as well. The greatest benefit of paying outright is that you won’t be faced with a huge bill as soon as you come out of treatment. Financial problems are a main trigger for people to relapse into addictive behavior, which means you need to do what you can to avoid them.

Find private financing. While not ideal, it is the only option for many people. You could go to your bank or another financial institution and ask them for a loan. This does mean, however, that you need to budget for the repayments. There are actually addiction treatment loans available as well. These loans are provided solely to pay for rehab and they have easy repayment options. Often, you don’t have to start to make repayments until you complete the rehab program either.

Speak to faith-based institutions. If you are associated with a certain religious establishment, it is possible that they offer some sort of addiction treatment or help towards paying for it. There are, for instance, Christian rehab facilities, which are associated with a specific church. If you happen to be a member of that congregation, you may be able to receive treatment through there.

It is important to work out how you will pay for treatment before you decide to enroll. This is mainly to avoid being in a situation where you can’t pay for the treatment that you need. If you find a treatment center and discover you can’t pay for it, don’t despair. There are options out there including trying to find a different center. Remember, you have to find the one that is right for you, including the cost.