Can I Afford Rehab?


It’s a tough question, even for those to whom money isn’t in short supply. After all, even the wealthy have to commit a month or more to the process – it costs them in time and, when the investigative reporter finds out, reputation as well. No one wants their picture next to a headline proclaiming they had to seek treatment for an addiction.

How much does it really cost?

Thousands. It isn’t cheap, but what medical treatment is? Consider what’s involved in a residential rehab program:

  • • Room and board for at least a month, with the newer standards shooting for three months
  • • Meals, laundry, and all the other facility costs
  • • Professional services like counseling and medical care
  • • All of the regulatory overhead – insurance billing, record keeping, mandated staff levels and training

These are just a few of the major expenses that a rehabilitation facility has to cover.

There is no single shopping guide or catalog with which you can compare prices, so the best we can do here is offer an estimate: anywhere from $8,000 to $50,000 per month. That’s a huge range of prices, but it depends on the area of the country you are in (different locals have different overhead costs) and how grand the facility is.

The lauded Betty Ford Center in the “luxurious resort community of Rancho Mirage, California,” starts at $32,000 for a one-month stay (but offers a discount if you stay for three months – only $55,000). Other facilities are much less expensive.

The only way to get a firm figure where you live is to talk to an intake person at the facility you are considering. They will ask the important questions and give you a good estimate, along with variables that increase or decrease prices.

Who pays?

Expect to bear the majority of the financial burden yourself. Like other medical care, you will be required to sign a payment agreement. Typically, it says you agree to be on the hook for any costs not covered by insurance. Installment programs are available, and rehab facilities will usually help you find out what your insurance will cover and what it will not.

In most cases, insurance coverage is limited to professional services (direct care from a doctor or therapist) and some short period of residential (inpatient) care. This also depends on the facility, as some have better accreditation than others – something an insurance company may require.

It’s a tough situation. Some of us don’t make it into treatment until we’ve hit a crisis point, and that usually includes financial difficulties, job loss or an arrest. Just when things are looking pretty bleak financially, it can seem impossible to take on another big obligation. This is especially painful if you’ve already sprung for lawyer’s fees or paid fines and court costs.

Can I afford it?

Not to be too blunt about it, but what’s the choice? Either continue on the road to ruin or get some serious help. That help is expensive. How much is a life free from addiction worth?

In the bigger scheme of things, we are talking about the price of a new car to get your life back. Now might be the time to take that loan on your 401k or get a second mortgage. It’s that important.

What you can’t afford is to squander the opportunity. In a way, the financial burden is part of the cure. How often do we see a celebrity (who can easily foot the bill) doing their second or third trip through rehab? They have the money to waste on multiple rehab “vacations.” Most of us do not. The cost alone gives us an incentive to take the help offered and apply it.

Another way to look at it is to ask, “How much do I save?” The direct cost of a drug addiction depends on the drug and usage level. But even a cheap drug like meth will run upwards of $10,000 a year just keeping up a weekly habit. The indirect costs are much higher (loss of income) and higher still when you factor in legal costs if you get caught. The relationship costs can’t even be estimated – how much is your marriage worth? The trust of your family?

Photo by John Nyboer


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