Paying for Addiction Treatment: What You Need to Know

The dominant myth about drug addiction treatment is that it is overpriced and unaffordable, especially for the ones who need it most. When living in the crisis of addiction, financial management is often one of the first areas of life to be negatively impacted by the effects of drug use, and this situation is usually at its worse by the time the person is seeking treatment. So how is it possible to pay for the expense of drug addiction treatment in this situation?

It is a question that is answered by families across the country every day – a question that, like most issues surrounding treatment for addiction, is highly personal and tailored to the unique needs of the individual and their family.

Insurance Coverage

The first stop in covering the cost of addiction treatment is insurance. Most people in the United States now have some measure of insurance and, at this moment, plans that are approved under the Affordable Care Act are required to offer coverage for services to treat addiction – both medical and therapeutic.

The issue arises when it comes time to define what treatment services are medically necessary. Insurance companies often do not comply easily in these cases, requiring proof that the most expensive treatment options (e.g., residential care, expensive medications, etc.) and nontraditional methods of treatment are in fact medically needed in any given case. Many will require that their clients first seek treatment using less expensive methods (e.g., outpatient treatment) or require a doctor’s recommendation with demonstrable medical evidence that a more expensive treatment is needed.

This process is frustrating and it can take time, but connecting with a drug rehab program and engaging their assistance in acquiring coverage for treatment can defray costs significantly – In some cases reducing the total to a standard copay amount or deductible.

Financial Resources

The next place to look for the funds to pay for treatment is one’s own resources. Though it may initially seem like there is nothing to spare, many families find that when they pull together and do the following, they can come up with a significant amount of money to pay for treatment:

  • Create a budget, cutting out all expenses that are unnecessary and tracking expenditures in exact dollar amounts. All “extra” goes in the fund designated for treatment.
  • Sell any large assets. This can mean a car, including selling an expensive vehicle and purchasing a less expensive one in its place and using the extra money for treatment. In addition, any recreational vehicles such as boats, exercise equipment, farm equipment, sports equipment, and more can all be sold for the purposes of paying for treatment. Even smaller items can be sold at a garage sale or online to add to the fund.
  • Tap savings allocated for other expenses. A college fund, a vacation fund, a retirement fund, and other funds may be appropriate sources for treatment.
  • Borrow from family members. This can mean drawing up a legal contract for repayment and being clear about the boundaries and guidelines associated with the loan or gift. This can help to cover a portion of costs more quickly than waiting to sell things or work a budget.
  • Financing the remainder of the costs after all other resources have been exhausted can help families to take on a payment that fits their budget and pay for treatment over a period of time.

Financial Planning

Ultimately, a budget will be necessary to manage the costs associated with addiction, including treatment. It is important for families and their loved one in recovery from addiction to work together and commit to a more financially healthy lifestyle during treatment and after. Learning how to pay back debt associated with addiction can help the whole family to heal and be an indicator of progress in recovery. This should not be the responsibility of the family alone. The person in recovery should play a significant role in earning the money to pay back debts associated with addiction during the process of establishing a new life in recovery.

Families can best facilitate this process by:

  • Attending family therapy sessions together to work out challenges they face
  • Working with a financial planner who can assist them with the budgeting process
  • Having regular family meetings to manage the budget and discuss expenditures and strategy
  • Being honest with each other and writing down everything that is spent for total transparency

Focusing on a budget can help families to work together on other aspects of relationship repair in recovery at the same time.

A Mixed Solution

It is a rare case in which a client pulls solely from one source to cover the cost of treatment. In most cases, people work together within the family to come up with the costs necessary to pay for immediate detox and therapeutic care, and then for aftercare and ongoing treatment services as well.

Everyone’s experience during addiction in terms of finances will be different; thus, everyone will approach the question of paying for treatment from a unique perspective. The bottom line is that a solid treatment program is well worth the cost and that, with some effort and organization, paying for treatment does not have to be an obstacle to connecting with necessary care. A good drug rehab program will be able to answer your questions about the process of paying for treatment and assist you in the financial management part of recovery in addition to helping you manage the medical and therapeutic treatment you and your family need to heal.

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About The Contributor

Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff, American Addiction Centers

The editorial staff of Sunrise House is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed thousands... Read More

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