What Are the Cost Benefits of Going to Rehab?Anna Ciulla
Drug addiction treatment reduces drug use and its associated health and social costs, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), which has estimated that addiction costs the U.S. $600 billion annually. The same NIDA report concluded that this reduction in health and social costs far outweighs the cost of treatment itself. The cost benefits to society of more people with substance use disorders (SUDs) going to rehab are therefore enormous.
But societal benefits aside, what are the cost benefits of going to rehab for individuals and their families—and, more specifically, for those who receive treatment at Beach House Center for Recovery? This article will answer that question, by engaging the firsthand expertise of in-house addiction professionals who are on the frontlines of helping clients and families afford the cost of treatment and budget for life after rehab.
How Treatment Improves Health, Finances and Other Benchmarks of Wellbeing
There are few as qualified as Tim Fitzpatrick when it comes to answering how treatment improves health, finances and other benchmarks of wellbeing for Beach House clients and their families. As a lead case manager and clinical coordinator for Beach House, Fitzpatrick oversees case management and works one-on-one with clients. He is also successfully in long-term recovery himself, having once left a career in finance in New York to get treatment in Florida. In his role, Fitzpatrick spends a lot of time helping clients: plan and budget for life after rehab; access temporary supports like food stamps, as clients get back on their feet and transition into a sober living environment; and connect with job, educational and other resources that will help them rebuild their life in sobriety.
From Fitzpatrick’s personal and professional experience, one of the biggest, “most obvious” cost benefits of getting treatment is the freedom that clients experience when the debilitating financial burden of maintaining a drug or alcohol habit is finally lifted. When clients enter treatment, many of them have exhausted their finances, having spent thousands and thousands of dollars monthly on drugs and alcohol, according to Fitzpatrick.
“Basically, a lot of our clients have very little resources when they get here … It’s amazing how much money is wasted,” he said, describing a common experience among clients new to treatment. Many of them are knee-deep in debt, directionless and unemployable, having not held down a steady job because of their addiction.
In addition to this debt that clients have incurred, Fitzpatrick observed that many families of clients have also outspent themselves (emotionally too) in an effort to get their loved one care. Fitzpatrick said he has talked to mothers and fathers who have spent thousands of dollars on various medical specialists and providers—in many cases just to get their child into treatment.
How Treatment Can Relieve the Legal Costs of an Addiction
But that’s not all. Another major cost benefit of addiction treatment that Fitzpatrick sees firsthand: an end to addiction-related troubles with the law and associated expenses in the way of legal fees and fines. “Legal issues are expensive,” Fitzpatrick noted. He works closely with a court liaison who assists with case management for clients who find themselves in legal predicaments related to their addiction.
“Clients pay a lot of money for lawyers due to legal issues as a result of their using, whether it’s a DUI or theft of cash for drugs,” Fitzpatrick said, only half joking that he hadn’t had a legal issue in years since his last drink.
Another big cost benefit to Beach House clients: being able to hold down a job, because “if you’re sober you can stay stably in one job and advance.” Fitzpatrick said he sees this advancement happen regularly among Beach House alumni: “A lot of clients call us back in a few years and say they got promoted.” Still others with successful turnarounds have gone on to work for Beach House.
Why Treatment Is Less Expensive Than Maintaining a Drug or Alcohol Habit
Health, financial and other quality-of-life indicators are therefore significantly rosier after rehab than they are before rehab. Beach House Financial Counselor Bill Schilling agrees. He helps clients with out-of-pocket costs set up payment plans, so that they can afford their treatment with peace of mind and in a way that “helps them get integrated back into the mainstream of life” (as he puts it) without undue financial stress.
The cost benefits to getting treatment are “ad infinitum,” according to Schilling, who is also in successful long-term recovery and was happy to share his own experience as illustration, noting that it is more the norm than the exception among incoming clients at Beach House: “When I was in my drug addiction, I was spending $5k a month on drugs, and doing anything and everything I could to get that money.” It was therefore “less expensive to get sober,” Schilling said—a truth that he said even applies to clients with the highest out-of-pocket treatment expenses.
The reality is that “nine out of 10 people [who come to Beach House] have experienced enough pain that they want to get sober,” according to Schilling, who was quick to emphasize that you can’t put a price tag on the ultimate benefit of rehab: getting your life back.
“My life is priceless,” he said. “A value of money is no object.”
Other Findings Re: Cost Benefits of Addiction Treatment for Individuals and Families
These more anecdotal insights from Fitzpatrick and Schilling have been confirmed by larger scientific studies regarding the cost benefits of addiction treatment for individuals and families. Consider the following findings, for example:
- Treatment for alcoholism dramatically reduces the financial burden of addiction on a family—from an average of $832/month to $179/month, according to a 2012 article in Addiction.
- The same study found that overall family productivity goes up after a loved one completes treatment. For example, after their loved one completed 12 months of treatment, family members were able to decrease the amount of time spent caring for their loved one from 32 hours/month to eight hours/month.
- Recovering alcoholics who underwent alcohol treatment reportedly experienced a “significant reduction in their total healthcare costs.”
Discover more of “The Real Costs of Addiction.” Or, maximize the cost benefits of getting treatment for you or a loved one by calling us today.