The Cost of Treating an Addiction

No matter how the data is examined, the national trends regarding drug use and addiction show an increasing dependence on these substances. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a department within the National Institute of Health (NIH), found that nearly 10 percent of the United States population aged 12 years and older had used an illegal drug within the past 30 days. The use of prescription drugs for non-medical reasons was admitted by 6.5 million people in 2013. There were 595,000 users of methamphetamine and 1.3 million Americans who used hallucinogens like LSD and ecstasy.

The Sobering Cost of Addiction

According to the NIDA, the cost the United States incurs because of substance abuse is substantial. When the abuse of illicit drugs is combined with tobacco, alcohol and prescription opioids, the NIDA estimates the cost to the nation is over $740 billion each year. These costs include those related to health care, crime and lost productivity at work. Alcohol enacts about $27 billion in health care costs and $249 billion in costs overall, according to statistics from 2010. Prescription opioid use cost about $26 billion in health care every year with $78.5 billion in costs overall. Illicit drugs have been projected to cost the United States $193 billion overall with $11 billion of that solely in health care.

Cost of Drug Addiction Treatment

According to research by the NIDAdrug treatment is a less expensive option that either not treating a person or incarcerating them. For each dollar that is invested in drug treatment programs, up to seven dollars in costs related to crime is saved. As an example, the agency notes that it costs $18,400 yearly to imprison one person but only $4,700 to fund methadone treatment for a year. When the savings realized in health care are also accounted for, the amount realized could surpass the costs by a 12:1 ratio.

Insurance Options for Addiction Treatment

Driven by research, the modalities for treating addiction continue to change and evolve. However, most fall into several broad categories including the following:

  • Detoxification

For many people, detoxification is the first step in their treatment plan. This process, during which the body rids itself of the addictive substance, is designed to help an individual better manage the potentially harmful effects that could result from halting their drug use. As such, detoxification does not address the issues that are part of the addiction process itself. Instead, this step provides a medically-safe environment in which to start drug addiction treatment.

  • Residential Addiction Treatment

Residential addiction treatment is also often referred to as inpatient treatment. Care is provided 24 hours a day with both long- and short-term options often available. Typically taking place in a non-hospital setting, residential addiction treatment often follows a therapeutic community model in which the entire staff, as well as the other residents, play a crucial role in resocializing the individuals. In addition to acknowledging the person’s deficits, this type of treatment fosters accountability and provides support to help establish a drug-free and productive life. While long-term residential addiction treatment programs typically last between 6 and 12 months, intensive short-term stays are often only three to six weeks long. Some inpatient drug treatment programs are focused on a particular segment of the population such as teens, seniors or mothers with children.

  • Outpatient Addiction Treatment

Like residential addiction treatment, outpatient treatment varies in terms of the models used as well as the targeted population. One advantage that outpatient drug treatment programs might offer is the ability for those undergoing treatment to continue with their schooling and/or jobs. In order to be successful, those individuals choosing outpatient treatment should have a strong support system in place and choose the right type of outpatient treatment. Intensive day treatment, for example, could be as effective as inpatient treatment for some people. Group counseling is often a significant element in outpatient addiction treatment programs. Depending on the model, some outpatient drug treatment options could also include treatment for people who also have mental health or medical conditions.

  • Counseling

Whether an individual undergoes inpatient or outpatient drug addiction treatment, counseling is often a major component. Individualized drug counseling is designed to addressing the factors that underlie an individual’s drug use while also targeting those life areas — such as employment and relationships with family and friends — that are not functioning smoothly. Such counseling also helps develop a treatment program and provide the tools necessary to achieve success.

Group counseling can help individuals as they benefit from the positive reinforcement of the drug-free group. The social environment provides support, discussion, and coping skills that are designed to assist individuals in their application to the outside world.

Cost often holds people back when they consider options for drug treatment. Considering the costs to society and the savings generated by effective drug treatment programs, tapping into the resources available to help individuals tackle their addiction is vital.

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