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What Costs More Addiction or Addiction Treatment?

By Jose Hernandez

The high cost of treatment for alcohol or drug abuse is one of the biggest obstacles you may face when taking your first step toward recovery. But think of it this way, how much is your dependence on alcohol or drugs costing you? Which is a greater price to pay–maintaining the addiction or being treated for it?

The High Cost of Alcoholism and Drug Addiction

A chronic substance abuser may spend tens of thousands of dollars a year on a drug or alcohol habit. And without treatment, those costs accumulate year after year as the abuse continues. Treatment, in contrast, typically lasts for three to six months.

Here are the estimated costs of five years of substance abuse:

Methamphetamine- A chronic “meth” user pays $50 a day on average. That’s over $90,000.
Alcohol – An alcoholic paying $20 a day for beer or inexpensive liquor will spend $36,500, not including the cost of bar tabs or over-the-top party weekends.
Heroin – Heroin may be a less expensive alternative to prescription painkillers, but it’s still quite costly. A heroin addict who spends $100 a day to support his habit will spend $182,500.

Extend these costs to ten years, and the expense becomes even more astonishing. People who abuse cocaine or prescription pain medications often pay many times more than the amounts listed above to support their habits.
And these estimated costs don’t include the cost of lost wages, hospital stays, minor medical issues, and fines for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Also addicts are more likely to get sick, have more infections, and need medical attention more often than people who are not substance abusers. (An estimated 30-70 percent of emergency room visits are related to alcohol use, and more than half of all drug abusers in the US are treated in emergency room each year.)

The Price Tag on Rehab

Yes, rehab and treatment is expensive, and private health insurers do not cover all the costs. Paying for rehab is often done by using health insurance, private pay plans, financing, and assistance from family and other resources available to the client. There are three major facets to successfully treating alcohol or drug abuse, each of which costs several thousand dollars.
Detoxification- Eight days of medically supervised detox at $500 a day is $4,000.
Inpatient Treatment.- Cost varies enormously, depending on the facility location and amenities. The average for a 30- to 90-day program is $15,000 a month
Intensive Outpatient Treatment (IOP)- Prices range from $2000 to as much as $100,000, depending on the facility location and amenities. The average cost is about $2,500 per month, and programs typically run between two and six months The average cost then for two months of outpatient treatment is about $5,000 and $15,000 for a six-month program.
These are approximate numbers, and not everyone will need every service. In fact, many people in recovery find lasting sobriety through free, 12-step programs after an initial stay at an inpatient facility. In addition, inpatient facilities often offer on-site detox, including room and board. So although you’re spending what seems like a high price for treatment, you’re also saving the costs of food and housing.

You Do the Math

It’s apparent that proper treatment for alcoholism and addiction is imperative to the health of Americans, especially young people. Unfortunately, many of those suffering from addiction don’t feel they have the financial means to seek help. So the cycle continues, year after year, at an enormously higher cost than successful treatment.
You don’t have to be a math whiz to see that the cost of substance abuse treatment is a small price to pay when your life is on the line.

7 Steps to Creating a Career After Rehab

You’re newly sober, rehab is behind you, and you’re thinking about your career goals, perhaps for the first time.  Your energy level is up, your drive is back, and you’re regaining your clarity. You feel ready to take on the world and get back into the game of life. 

But then reality sets in with a litany of questions: When is the right time to return to work or start a job hunt? What can I expect? Where do I start?

Becoming an employee is inevitable. But before you try to jump start a slowed career or launch a new one, you have two major tasks: One, have healthy expectations for yourself. And two, set concrete, realistic goals.

Reality Check 

Taking on too much responsibility in early sobriety is stressful and can lead to a setback or even stall your recovery. At the same time, having the structure of a job boosts your prospects of successful recovery.  Your challenge is to maintain a healthy balance between the demands of being in the workforce and your ability to cope with a job’s demands. 

Just Get Started

You probably want your dream job right out of the gate, but the reality is it takes time to work your way up the career ladder. And if you already have an established career, you need time to nurture your sobriety and not sabotage it.

If you’re not sure exactly what you want to do with your life, enjoy this time of exploration and discovery. Sometimes in sobriety, success is simply taking the next step.

  1. Giving back is a good place to start. There are opportunities in the community to which you can volunteer your time. You may find your passion while helping others.
  2. Take advantage of free or inexpensive classes related to your personal interests. Many community colleges and employment offices don’t charge for career assessments and guidance.
  3. Find a mentor. Is there someone in your life who is successful that you respect? Ask if you can shadow him or her at work. You may find an aspect of the profession that interests you. Even if you don’t end up with a fire in your belly for what that person does, the experience gives you a chance to pick the brain of that successful person. Or a colleague or employee of your mentor may have a job that seems promising to you.
  4. Apply for positions  that work with your recovery program and don’t trigger your addiction. If sobriety loses importance on your priority list, so will your recovery.  The amazing job you landed will be short-lived if your performance suffers due to health issues.
  5. Gain some knowledge of the industry while working toward your goals. For example, If you want to work in the medical field, you could begin with a part-time office job at a local hospital or doctor’s office. If you’re interested in a business or sales career, apply for a position as an administrative assistant or receptionist.  (Keep in mind that companies often promote from within because employees have an understanding of the businesses’ procedures and markets. Another plus of working for a company at any level is that many offer to pay for tuition or training fees.)
  6. Take it slow and steady. If you have an established but stressful career, return to it by working part-time or in a role that is less demanding than your pre-rehab position. You can add hours or job duties as you regain your confidence and feel increasingly comfortable in your recovery.
  7. Use the tools you’re learning in recovery in all aspects of your life. Integrity, communication skills, and follow-through go a long way with employers and co-workers. You may find your new life skills bring out talents you never knew you had, opening you up to new opportunities.

Sobriety Comes First

Most addiction recovery specialists recommend that people in recovery begin pursuing their career goals by working in a low-stress environment. Be patient with yourself and stay focused on what’s important long-term.

Here’s a quick recap of creating a career after rehab:

  • The responsibility and structure of working is conducive to long-term sobriety, but it can also cause undue stress. Be sure to balance work, life, and sobriety and not in that order!
  • Don’t attempt to launch  a whole new career straight out of rehab. Work slowly and surely toward your goals. As you proceed, step by step, you’ll gain self-confidence as well as the confidence of your employer.
  • If you don’t know what you want to do, just do something. Find a mentor, take a class, or volunteer. You may end up carving your own path along the way. There is help everywhere; you just have to ask for it! The last thing you want to do in recovery is get bored!

When you build a solid foundation the opportunities are limitless. For more information on job readiness and counseling, visit our vocational offerings page.

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Overcoming Shame and Guilt in Recovery

by Rini Foxworthy, M.S.


The beginning stages of recovery are a trying time for all addicts. For most, the path to sobriety will be a grueling one, full of challenges and struggles. Whether you have made the decision to enter treatment voluntarily or at the urging of friends or family, you will surely face difficulties throughout recovery. Working to overcome feelings of shame and guilt will undoubtedly be one of those challenges. These negative emotions have the power to obstruct the path to sobriety. In order to promote growth as a recovering addict, shame and guilt must be addressed.

The Birth of Negative Emotions

Being in recovery brings many changes, including time for reflection and contemplation. As recovering addicts begin to reflect on the past, they may find themselves feeling shame or guilt. Shame and guilt are common emotions for those in recovery. These feelings may be in regards to the choices that they have made or about having hurt others while trapped in their addiction.

While abusing drugs and alcohol, addicts tend to lose sight of their goals and values. Following detox, the dark veil cast by substances begins to lift. Addicts gain a clearer picture of the damage that has been left in the wake of their illness. It is completely normal for recovering addicts to feel intense shame and guilt regarding their substance abuse. For some, this realization may come quickly. For others, it may be months before these feelings manifest.

After having spent years avoiding their emotions, it can be difficult for those in recovery to confront their feelings. However, it is a necessary task in order to achieve and maintain sobriety.

Taking Steps in a Healthy Direction

Make no mistake–overcoming shame and guilt is a hefty task. Forgiving yourself for your wrongdoings and letting go of the past does not come easily. However, it is of paramount importance to recognize the damaging effects that shame and guilt can have upon the healing process. These unhealthy emotions can limit your ability to forgive yourself, make amends with others, and achieve inner peace. Taking the following steps will assist you in conquering your shame and guilt.

1. Process and Acknowledge Your Emotions

In order for recovering addicts to begin to resolve their feelings of shame and guilt, they must first being to process and acknowledge their emotions. Addicts commonly abuse substances to escape uncomfortable or painful feelings. However, it is imperative that you gain an understanding as to why you are feeling guilty or ashamed. This can be achieved by participating in group therapy, individual therapy, or even by working through the 12 Steps in your spare time.

2. Ask Yourself Whether Your Shame and Guilt Is Helping or Hindering You

It is unlikely that holding onto shame and guilt is benefitting your health. Honestly ask yourself whether your shame and guilt is helping or hindering you during your recovery. If it is indeed causing more harm than good, acknowledge the need to remove those negative emotions from your life. It might also help you to consider how the quality of your life might improve should you overcome your shame and guilt. Picturing a life without these negative feelings may help you to continue along in your path toward recovery.

3. Take Moral Inventory

As is a necessary part of treatment, recovering addicts are urged to take moral inventory. Taking moral inventory refers to honestly looking at oneself and recognizing your faults, shortcomings, and character defects. For example, you may have commonly lied to family members in the past and are now recognizing how that behavior was harmful. Naturally, you may begin to feel ashamed as this clear and honest image of yourself emerges.

As uncomfortable as it may feel, allow yourself to sit with these emotions briefly. Rushing through moral inventory is a mistake many recovering addicts make. Remind yourself that your recovery is not a race– it is a journey. The more time and energy that you put into your recovery, the better your results will be.

4. Make Amends

After taking moral inventory, you may begin to attempt to make amends. When making amends, we are not seeking forgiveness from others. Instead, we are clearing our conscience of our shame and guilt. Because we are responsible for our emotions, we are also responsible for forgiving ourselves and accepting the past.

We are able to make amends with others regardless of whether or not they are open to receiving an apology. We may be lucky to be forgiven by some, but others will undoubtedly be resistant to our efforts. Try your best to be prepared for the possibility of being shut out or snubbed. Remember–forgiveness is not your motive. What is important is that you have recognized and acknowledged your wrongdoing.

We can also make amends with those who have passed away or those we have lost contact with. Expressing our feelings through writing, prayer, and meditation are just a few examples of how this can be achieved.

Be Kind To Yourself

Letting go of shame and guilt is no simple task. Keep in mind that change doesn’t happen overnight and allow yourself time to work through these tasks. If you are having a hard time exploring your emotions or taking moral inventory, take extra time to unwind and de-stress. Avoid beating yourself up when you feel discouraged or experience setbacks. You are a work in progress, and that is something to be proud of.

Processing shame and guilt is an important endeavor for all recovering addicts and takes time, perseverance, and diligence. Focus your sights on the wonderful benefits that will come as a result of your hard work. This may help to motivate you when your patience wears thin. With vigorous effort and determination, you will soon be living a happy and healthy life free of the demons from the past.