Understanding the Cost of Rehab
The cost of rehab is most accurately represented with a range. Rehab programs can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $100,000 (for luxury rehabs). We break down the main factors that will impact whether your rehab cost will tend to be higher or lower.
Your actual cost depends on your unique needs, and whether you are able to offset the cost of treatment by insurance or other means. To get a better understanding of your options to make treatment affordable, read our main section below titled, “How to Afford Rehab.”
Inpatient treatment is more costly, but better for those with severe addictions
If you are trying to overcome a long-term addiction, you may need to opt for residential inpatient treatment where you are removed from your normal temptations and from the factors that contribute to your substance abuse problem. This is especially true if you have relapsed after attending outpatient treatment in the past, or if you are living with others who abuse drugs.
Inpatient treatment allows you to get clean and focus exclusively on recovery, but it comes with an increased cost. Inpatient treatment is usually at least twice as expensive as an equivalent amount of outpatient treatment.
Read our full-length guide for more information about inpatient rehab programs
Outpatient treatment costs less and is best for mild to moderate addictions
Outpatient treatment allows patients to live at home and come into the rehab center for a few hours most days of the week. This option typically costs less and may allow you to continue working and caring for your family, but treatment is spread out over a longer period, and you aren’t removed from many triggers and temptations.
Those who don’t have severe addiction problems and don’t face challenges in their home life (such as family members who use drugs, abusive situations, or other challenging circumstances), may be able to cut costs and still fully recover using outpatient treatment.
To learn more about the different types of outpatient rehabs and whether it might be the best option for you, read our guide, “Outpatient Rehab Centers”
For inpatient rehab, program lengths usually start at 30 days, then go up to 60, 90, and 180 days. 30 Days is considered “short-term rehab,” and anything longer is considered “long-term rehab.” The only difference between rehab lengths is that treatment is more intensive in short-term rehab since more therapy is being condensed into a shorter period of time.
Unlike inpatient rehab, when you opt for an outpatient program, each step of the rehabilitation process is usually completed at a separate facility. Detox usually lasts for 1-2 weeks. Once that’s completed, the actual therapy can start – 90 days is typically a minimum, but many people continue seeing a counselor or attending group therapy for multiple years.
The longer you can afford to spend in rehab, the better your chance for a successful outcome
The longer you spend in rehab, the more expensive it will be. However, those who have severe addictions may not receive all the help that they need in short-term rehab. The National Institute on Drug Abuse suggests that most individuals need 90 days to stop or significantly reduce drug use.
Inpatient facilities that offer licensed doctors and nurses and provide full medical care tend to be much more expensive than those who just provide counselors. Additionally, rehab centers designed to help those with co-occurring mental health disorders may hire specialists, which also increases the cost.
For outpatient services, the same principle applies: medically monitored detox is more costly, and a fully licensed psychologist tends to be more expensive than an addiction counselor.
Users recovering from alcohol and opiate addictions (including heroin) may require medication to safely and comfortably detox. The side effects of stopping usage of those substances can be quite severe and life threatening for some, so medication is used to slowly wean the individual off their dependency.
Here are some common medications and their associated costs:
- Methadone: This medicine is commonly used to treat withdrawal symptoms for opiates and aid in detox. It’s also used long-term (a year or more) to help the patient slowly become less and less dependent on the substance(s). The typical cost for a year-long treatment is about $2,600 to $5,200 depending on the dosage.
- Buprenorphine: Also called Subutex, this treatment is similar to methadone – it’s used to treat withdrawal symptoms to aid in the detox process, and it’s also used for long-term maintenance. Taking this medication every day for a year costs between $4,000 and $5,000 depending on the dose.
Amenities and Luxuries
At inpatient rehab facilities, additional “comfort” features can add to the cost. There’s a huge variance in cost between basic and luxury facilities – basic rehab centers may cost $5,000 a month, while a luxury facility in Malibu could cost up to $100,000 a month.
Here are a few of the amenities that can drive up the cost of rehab:
- Gourmet Dining
- Gym and Workout Facilities
- Private Suites
- Massage Therapy
- Recreation (Including Horseback Riding, Tennis, and other options)
- Meditation and Yoga Classes
Cost tends to be higher in a large city that has a high-cost of living. On the other hand, choosing a facility in a smaller city or rural area may slightly lower the cost. Additionally, if you have to travel to an outpatient center that’s quite a distance away, your transportation costs could also add up.
The Cost of Addiction
No matter how much rehab costs, the potential cost of addiction is exponentially higher. It’s estimated that substance abuse and addiction costs the U.S. a staggering $600 billion every year. To get an idea of what substance abuse could cost you personally, consider the four different types of addiction costs outlined below.
The Dollar Cost
The cost of purchasing illegal drugs and alcohol outweighs the cost of rehab
The first consideration is the cost of the actual substance. Consider the following example: an average pack of beer costs about $10, and if you drink a 12 pack a day, that’s $3,650 a year. In 10 years, you would have spent $36,500.
If, for example, one does cost $25, the yearly cost would be $9,125 for moderate users. In this example, heavy users who have built up a tolerance to the substance could spend as much as $100 a day. That would equate to $36,500 in a year.
The cost of one overdose can be as much as going to rehab
According to a 2010 study performed by Stanford University School of Medicine, the average cost of an ER visit and/or inpatient treatment after an opiate overdose was $17,000. Since the cost of treating opioid overdoses has been soaring over the last few years, expect the current average cost to be considerably higher. Overall, the cost of just one overdose could be as much as, or more than, the cost of going to rehab.
Legal-related costs can add up quickly
Another cost associated with substance abuse are fees incurred because of legal trouble. For instance, the average total cost of a DUI is about $9,000. Other legal costs could include:
- Fines for possession of illegal substances
- Court and lawyer fees for substance-related legal issues
- Divorce related costs
The Opportunity Cost
While the actual dollar cost of substance abuse is considerably more expensive than rehab on its own, you also have to consider the money you would have earned if you weren’t addicted. Jail time and losing your job are both obvious sources of lost income. Another factor to consider is unpaid time you have to take off work.
Your career can also suffer. A substance abuse problem can easily keep you from advancing in your career due to complacency and poor work habits induced by addiction. Being passed up for promotions, or staying in an entry-level, lower-income job are both potential results of substance abuse.
The Health Cost
Another consideration is the impact of substance abuse on your health and well-being. For instance, liver failure is a well-known side effect of heavy alcohol use, and illicit drugs can lead to a host of medical problems such as heart failure, HIV, and cancer.
The Relationship Cost
Divorce or separation, estrangement from children, and the loss of important friendships are all common results of substance abuse. This cost may not seem as large as the monetary impact of rehab, but you can always earn more money, while some relationships may not ever be restored.
How to Afford Rehab
Most people won’t be able to pay for rehab out of pocket, but there are several options that make rehab affordable and attainable for anyone, provided they know where and how to get help. There are three basic options, and there are unique factors to consider and steps to take for each.
Private insurance is any insurance plan that’s not subsidized by the federal government (i.e., purchased through the healthcare marketplace), and it’s typically purchased through your employer. Depending on your plan, private insurance may result in a higher out-of-pocket expense than public insurance, but the types of treatments covered tend to be more extensive.
Step 1: Contact Your Insurance Provider
The first step is to determine exactly what your insurance will and won’t cover. As a general rule, private insurance companies do cover substance abuse treatment, but the actual coverage specifics may vary. You can also determine how much you are likely to pay out of pocket based on your deductible and copay.
Step 2: Get a professional drug abuse assessment
You shouldn’t attempt to choose a rehab setting on your own, as your insurance company may not cover the cost unless you get a professional evaluation. While a screening may be conducted by almost anyone (including family, friends, or a family doctor) to determine whether you qualify as an alcoholic or drug addict, an assessment is a more comprehensive approach to determine the extent of your addiction. Because it also includes a treatment recommendation, assessments should be conducted by a trained professional such as a doctor, counselor, or addiction specialist.
The ASAM Criteria is typically used to determine the severity of your addiction. Your history with substance abuse is examined – how long, how often, and how much you’ve used drugs. Factors that may lead to relapse and mental health concerns are considered as well.
Most inpatient and outpatient rehab facilities have qualified personnel and will offer drug assessment services. Use our database (below) to find facilities near you and contact them to find out if they offer professional assessments.
Once you’ve completed the evaluation, the addiction professional will recommend a treatment option that’s appropriate for your level of addiction. Those who have slight or moderate addictions may be referred to an outpatient program, while those who have a severe addiction will typically be recommended to an inpatient program.
Step 3: Find an appropriate treatment center that’s in your network
Based on the recommendation of your assessment (inpatient or outpatient), start using our database to find rehab centers near you, or in the location of your choosing. Once you develop a list of potential rehabs, you will need to follow up with your top choices to determine whether they are in your network.
Find instructions for using our database below.
Step 4: Get pre-approved
Before you make a final commitment to a rehab center, make sure your treatment plan and rehab center is approved by your insurance company. This is the best way to make sure you won’t be stuck footing the bill if the insurance company refuses to honor a certain aspect of your treatment. Some rehab centers have experienced professionals that will help you through the approval process.
Step 5: Make arrangements with your employer
A big part of affording rehab is making sure you work out a plan with your employer so that you will lose as little income as possible, and so that you will have a job when you return.
If you are checking into inpatient rehab for a month or more, you will need to take a leave of absence. However, some employers may be willing pay some you a portion of your salary during that time period.
If you will only be spending a few hours every day in outpatient treatment, you may be able to use vacation time for the detox portion of the rehabilitation process, and then work with or around your work schedule to keep up on your job responsibilities during treatment.
Public insurance is any plan that’s subsidized (partially or fully) by the federal government. The most common types of public insurance are Medicaid, Medicare, and plans purchased through the Health Insurance Marketplace.
Medicaid and CHIP usually covers substance abuse treatment
Since each state manages its own Medicaid program and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), there is some variance in policies from state to state. However, the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) requires that coverage for substance abuse be “no more restrictive than the coverage that generally is available for medical/surgical conditions.” What this usually means is that you have to be diagnosed by a doctor or other recognized medical professional (such as a licensed psychologist), and he or she must recommend the treatment plan in order for it to be covered.
If you aren’t currently covered by Medicaid or CHIP, you can find out if you qualify and start the enrollment process here. If you are already covered, then start by contacting your primary care provider to schedule an assessment.
Keep in mind that using Medicaid will limit your treatment options – many rehab centers don’t accept Medicaid, so your choice of location and specialty facilities may be restricted.
Medicare covers substance abuse treatment that’s "reasonable and necessary"
There are many conditions, and not all services and service providers are covered, but Medicare does cover substance abuse treatment.
Here are a few of the conditions:
- The services you receive must be from a provider that participates in Medicare
- Your doctor must certify that the treatment is medically necessary
- Your treatment plan must be determined by your doctor
Those who aren’t enrolled in Medicare Part B and D may have limited treatment options. Here’s a summary of what type of Medicare you need to be covered:
- The cost of outpatient treatment is covered by Medicare Part B
- The cost of inpatient treatment is covered by Medicare Part A
- The cost of medication (such as methadone) is covered under Part D, unless it’s part of the package of treatment received with inpatient rehab – in that case, it’s covered under Part A
To get substance abuse covered by Medicare, speak with your primary care provider to set up an assessment to determine whether you qualify.
Policies on the Health Insurance Marketplace are required to provide coverage
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) considers substance use disorder treatment to be an “essential health benefit.” The specific coverage details will vary between plans and states. The general process for obtaining coverage is similar to the process outlined above for private health insurance. Start by contacting your plan provider to learn more about your plans specific coverages and potential out-of-pocket expenses.
Low-Cost and Income-Based Rehabs
If you aren’t able to obtain private or public insurance, there are still options available for you. The federal and state governments jointly subsidize certain rehab centers – we refer to these as “Low-Cost Rehabs.”
Low-cost rehabs offer several different forms of payment assistance, including:
- No-Interest Payment Plans
- Sliding-Scale Fees
- Income-Based Fees
We developed a process for identifying the best low-cost rehabs in your state
To find high-quality, low-cost rehabs head to our guide that explains how we ranked each program and how to find the best facilities that offer payment assistance in your state.
Click your state from the list below to find rehabs near you
Our database allows you to search for rehabs that offer payment assistance near you. Click on your state below and enter your zip code to get started.
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York State
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
The cost of addiction always outweighs the cost of rehab, and there are options available for anyone who’s struggling to afford treatment. While cost is often a limitation for many, it doesn’t have to hold you back from getting help. Additionally, there are other factors to consider – read our guide to choosing the right rehab to learn more.