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The Cost of Addiction Treatment Versus the Cost of Addiction

It is a common refrain often heard among active addicts in the Boise, Idaho area – “I know I need to get help, but I just can’t afford rehab!” On the one hand, some skeptics might have a hard time accepting that statement. After all, the same person who has been able to afford to pay the thousands of dollars necessary to support their drug habit is now saying that treatment is just too expensive. On the surface, that flies in the face of reason. But, on the other hand, there is a grain of truth to the complaint, at least in the addict’s mind.  Illegal drug use is invariably supported by criminal activity. Drug rehab has to be paid for by other, more legitimate means. Let’s take a closer look at each side of the equation, both in Boise, Idaho, and around the country, and more importantly, what can be done to balance any inequality.

How Much Does Drug Addiction REALLY Cost?

There is no doubt that substance abuse takes a staggering toll on society. Every community in the United States, including Boise, Idaho, is affected on multiple levels by addiction and drug abuse. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse:

  • Taken as a whole, substance abuse in the United States – alcohol, illegal drugs, and smoking – costs more than $700 BILLION every year:
  • $224 BILLION because of alcohol
  • $193 BILLION because of illegal drugs
  • $295 BILLION because of smoking
  • These figures are comparable with other chronic conditions – $245 billion for diabetes, $125 billion for cancer, and more than $300 billion for heart disease/strokes.

The cost in human lives is just as dramatic. Even though the US government does not individually track the death rates for every single drug, statistics show that:

  • From 2001-2013, overdose deaths in the US due to opioid pain relievers increased threefold.
  • During the same period, overdose deaths due to benzodiazepines increased fourfold.
  • During the same period, overdose deaths due to cocaine increased by 29%.
  • During the same period, overdose deaths due to heroin increased by a factor of five.

Boise, Idaho, just like the rest of the state and the rest of the country, is not immune to the harsh impact of substance abuse. Some examples:

  • In 2010-2011, Idaho had the fourth-highest opioid abuse rate – 73% and ranked in the Top 10 for per-capita health care costs for opioid abuse.
  • Between 2006-2010, suspected drug use by an offender in Idaho rose by 36%.
  • In just one year, 2008-2009, the number of pills/doses seized by law enforcement increased by 143%.

Cost of Drugs to the Individual

Even though drug use is highly up to the individual to the person, let’s extrapolate of the estimated costs for a substance abuser with a major habit:

  • a heroin habit of two grams per day can cost over $50,000 per year
  • non-prescription habits of Vicodin, oxycodone, or hydrocodone can cost up to $40-50 thousand per year
  • a non-prescription OxyContin habit can cost over $100,000 per year
  • a serious meth habit can easily run more than $30,000 per year
  • a heavy marijuana smoker in Boise, Idaho can spend close to $10,000 per year
  • even an alcoholic who sticks to two six-packs of “cheap” beer per day can spend over $3500 every year.

None of these statistics takes into account the societal effect of substance abuse – criminal charges, DUI’s, broken families, the impact upon children, or generational substance abuse. The children of parents who abuse drugs are up to 80% more likely to abuse drugs themselves than the rest of the US population.

Addiction Treatment Costs

Because the specifics of the drug use can vary so much from person to person – the length and severity of the addiction, the drug of choice, etc. – the total costs for an individual are hard to determine with any degree of specificity. However, it is possible to give some “ballpark” estimates for the daily costs of professional addiction treatment in the Boise, Idaho, vicinity. Because different facilities each use their own approach and offer their own services, please prices are intended as a starting point from which further research can commence. The general consensus within the addiction treatment community is that 90 days of either residential or outpatient treatment is the minimum acceptable length if the program is going to be of any effectiveness. In some cases, it can be longer. For example, 12 months is considered the minimum for methadone maintenance. If a medication-assisted maintenance plan is used to the curb cravings of an opiate abuser, the treatment plan can last years. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the typical costs are:

  • Detox – a medically-assisted detox might average up to $500 per day. Some rehab facilities include the detoxification process in their services. Depending on the addict’s unique circumstances, a drug detox will typically last 3 to 14 days.
  • Outpatient Addiction Treatment –$10,000
  • Residential Alcohol/Drug Rehab – as low as $8000 and up to $32,000 per month
  • Methadone Maintenance – approximately $5000 per year
  • Luxury Drug Rehab Programs can cost exponentially more, up to $80,000 per month

The Bottom Line: Neither are Cheap

Obviously, professional addiction treatment is not cheap. However, it is just as obvious that it costs far less than the addiction itself, both in financial and human terms. Private Insurance and plans obtained through the Affordable Health Care Act can make professional addiction treatment more financially feasible. This means that the major “out-of-pocket” expenses would only be any deductibles or co-pays. There are a few drug treatment facilities in Boise, Idaho, will accept Medicaid or provide services for a fee determined by a sliding, income-based scale. Be aware, however, that these low-cost options usually have limited availability, and consequently, very long waiting lists. The amenities and personal services offered may also differ from those treatment centers that primarily accept private insurance. Many addicts seeking recovery from addiction and their families rightly make the decision to do whatever it takes to afford drug treatment –loans, second mortgages, selling property, etc. They understand that the financial sacrifices they make now purchase their best chance for a brighter future.