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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.