Amy Winehouse: The Real Tab for Rehab Addiction TreatmentIn what feels like the umpteenth time, singers Whitney Houston and Amy Winehouse, both famously drug addicted, checked back into rehab in May. The rich and famous, of course, have the means to bounce in and out of pricey addiction-treatment centers, but what's the real cost of rehab for regular folks trying clean up their lives?

It can be anywhere from free to up to $2,000 per day of treatment. Promises, where both Britney and Lindsay have logged stays, can cost up to $100,000 for a month in a beach-view private suite with private physicians. A month-long in-patient stay at Hazelden, one the country's oldest and most respected facilities, costs $28,500. Out-patient treatment there costs $10,000 a month. The Loft, a sober-living facility in Brooklyn, N.Y., runs $8,500 for a 30-day stay. Even a single intervention with a drug or alcohol specialist can cost hundreds of dollars.

"I don't think that paying more guarantees a better result," Joe Schrank, who founded The Loft and has worked at Promises, told DailyFinance. "People who are willing to throw $120,000 at a problem are going to have exacting standards that will create some kind of imperfection and unhappiness."

What Is the Value of Rehab?

The addiction treatment industry in America is expected to have revenues of $34 billion by 2014, an increase of 55% from 2005. The vast majority of that spending -- nearly 80% -- is underwritten by public funding, and the remaining portion paid for by insurance or private fees. There are are more 11,000 addiction-treatment centers in the United States, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Shows like Celebrity Rehab and Intervention have shed more light than ever on the recovery process, but some experts in the industry worry that all that attention places too much focus on the amenities and drama, rather than the actual mental and physical healing.

Dr. Marvin Seppala, the chief medical officer at Hazelden, suggests the prevalence of drug and alcohol problems in the entertainment industry, where discretion and luxury have high value, has driven the growth of expensive treatment centers.

But for people who need help for addiction, Dr. Seppala says it's not cost but quality of care and counseling staff that should be the priority. "Programs that promise 'remarkable outcomes' and 90% sobriety success rate after a year or a cure are exaggerated results that people should not believe," he says. "If the emphasis is on amenities of program or thread-count, get out quick."

The severity of the addiction should drive decision making. Out-patient treatment and counseling may work for some, Dr. Seppala says, while clients who have long-standing or multiple addictions may need the around-the-clock medical treatment a residential program provides.

John Fitzgerald, a leading psychologist specializing in addiction, says premium-priced residential programs aren't necessarily worth the cost, especially for families that are already struggling financially. Insurance coverage for rehab is limited and often only covers a fraction of what a long-term residential program costs.

"If you have a ton of money, some residential programs do a great job," he says. "But I really struggle when families mortgage the house or drain their retirement funds to send a loved one to a residential program. That same $30,000 can pay for great out-patient care over a much longer period of time."

A Place to Get Some Distance

Centers typically require a minimum 28-day stay and are rigorous programs with substance-abuse counseling, therapy and medical care. Detox may or may not be conducted on site. While good food is important, increasingly other amenities such as spa treatments, private rooms, and art classes are available in some tiers of residential treatment. Good weather is a big seller, which is why there are so many facilities in Florida and California.

The Differences Between Detox And Rehab

Jonathan K., a freelance web designer who lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., will celebrate six years sober this July. At 43, his battle for sobriety has been hard fought, and included six stints in rehab.

After calling a crisis hotline, his journey started in 2003 at a state-run facility in Tennessee. It was followed by a second stay at a Southern estate complete with "prime-rib nights and equestrian therapy." He visited three more "cinder block" facilities in New York and Florida. Financially speaking, he's one of the lucky ones. Thanks to a combination of insurance, "scholarships" and Medicaid, his tab for rehab was zero.

Having experienced the gamut of treatment centers, Jonathan doesn't think the ones with high-end amenities offered better care. He does, however, feel rehab was valuable because it gave him the fellowship and perspective he needed to recover from alcoholism.

"The privileges you can purchase with money can get in the way of getting effective treatment," says Jonathan. "If you can afford a private room, you may be depriving yourself of an important piece of the process."

A Consumer's Guide to Getting Clean

Maer Roshan, creator and executive editor of the new website, TheFix, dedicated to covering clean-and-sober lifestyles, says the lack of consumer information about residential addiction-treatment centers is surprising considering the importance of what happens there. To pull back that curtain, he created a Zagat-like rehab review on his website which breaks down price, quality of the food, environment and other factors.

"Anonymity doesn't need to be given to people running multimillion dollar companies. They should be scrutinized in some way," he says. "There are some people who are doing incredible work and don't make a ton of money, but increasingly you have people profiting off it in a huge way."

One of the most slippery aspects to recovery from drug and alcohol addiction is that there is no easy way to measure success. Relapses are common and long-term sobriety is measured over years and by quality of life, which is harder to gauge. Addiction experts emphasize that treatment must be looked at as a continuum. The disease of addiction is a chronic condition that must be managed with a lifetime of care, which is why many programs suggest after-care that includes attendance at 12-step meetings.

Fitzgerald also advocates for increasing treatment in the primary health care system. "We know that brief interventions and medications can be very effective in the right time and context," he says. "Most people don't need thousands of dollars in programs."

More resources where you can find information about getting help with addiction:

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Nice article. It made some things clear for me.

October 08 2014 at 2:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Fortunately I'm a USAF veteran so my rehab was essentially free. I had a few co-pays, but they were less than $100 during a 4-month stay. A few of these treatment centers charge SO much money that it brings to mind a joke from the late Sam Kinison: "If you can afford rehab then you don't have a drug problem." That center in Malibu called "Passages" charges $80,000.00 a f&*(^%$# month! That's just ridiculous and rehab shouldn't be too comfortable because then the patient is thinking about whether or not to get a massage, or deciding between crab legs or lobster for lunch, as opposed to sitting in a stark, clinical room and truly exploring their mind and behavior in order to find the root cause for the addiction. Mine was clinical depression and a pitifully low sense of self-esteem caused by an abusive childhood, but I didn't really make progress until I owned my poor choices, made amends to those who would accept my apology and to quit blaming the world for my substance abuse. I've been clean and sober for over 2 1/2 years now and I'm truly proud of myself for that accomplishment! Best of luck to all who are battling their demons and don't give up. My big breakthrough came when I realized that it was FAR more gratifying to do the right thing instead of getting high, hoping I didn't have to pee in a cup and remembering who I lied to, and what that lie was about, so I could keep my stories straight. As I've told people in rehab groups, I was the only guy in the office who had 6 dead grandmothers.

September 20 2014 at 1:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Marie Martin

Addiction treatment from a good rehab will bring your life back on track. Life of an addict is not like others. They feel depressed all the time. Rehab centers makes them feel better via different ways of treatment. This site could be considered for drug treatment.

November 29 2013 at 5:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Although these treatment programs can be lifesaving and help get individuals started on the road of recovery, there are some programs who are exploitative and use fraudulent billing practices.
At Promises West LA I was told that the charge would be $25,000 for a 30 day program and they would try to get insurance re-imbursement for me. They ended up charging $53,000 for the 30 days and kept the insurance money. They get a blood toxicology test more than 3 times per week and charge $1400 for each blood test. They have not returned my calls.

September 05 2013 at 10:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Fitzgerald's got it right. Treatment helps introduce hope and an arena to explore a new way of life. That best happens in one's own hometown and includes your family, from the start. Two months of treatment with lifetime aftercare shouldn't cost over $8,500 including Doc, meals, groups etc. Good treatment integrates the hopelessness of addiction with the people who have found at AA, celebrate recovery or your best friend. Bottom line is you don't do it alone. Our own best thinking got us into this mess and nobody can else can get you out. The big thing left out is the need for a qualified assessment to make sure that you will survive the withdrawal and any damage that you've done to your mind and body. Can't treat somebody who has croaked from status epilepticus or esophageal varices, so before treatment, you gotta fix what's broke.
Posterboy.....get your facts right before you start spouting off bs. AA doesn't make a cent off of treatment and vice versa. It's, probably, the only organization its size that has no leadership. you and I wanna start a meeting, dues, no fees, just a pot of coffee and a couple of chairs.
The simple truth is that today's treatment program call centers are killing as many addicts as the disease. Unfortunately, there are few systems for holding these outlaw programs accountable. Just like Dr. Drew, they'll do anything for a buck. He takes entitled has beens and puts a camera in their face to perform. Throw a seizure and he's just "the tv doctor", not the one responsible for their care. But he's a lightweight in the posterboard of bad actors. Scientology has their own "treatment"/ recruitment camps. Makes them money for the slop they serve up as treatment and gets a few addled folks to drink the Kool-Aid and give them all of their money to join L. Ron's Navy.
Treatment works but it is preceded by a surrender born of excruciating pain and followed by the joy of experiencing a freedom beyond our wildest expectations. Sounds like there are a lot of people who have been damaged by this industry, we call treatment. That seems to happen whenever greed goes unbridled.....remember that house that you bought by inflating your income? We are all responsible to clean up the industry and articles like this go a long way towards letting the public know that they can't trust anyone. Check out your provider by going to their facility and talking to them. If they can't explain what they do or seem to be lying, get up and find another one. It's your life.

June 26 2013 at 7:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The addiction treatment industry's model of sobriety=health and chemical indulgence=destruction is a false construct. A lot of people think drinking is their problem (don't mean to discount the reality of physical
addiction to hard drugs and let's not forget the very dangerous and legal prescription drugs ) because they're
told that what is a symptom is the problem. The propagandizing and brainwashing of our society and healthcare
providers by the 12 step industry (as this article demonstrates far from a non profit organization 95% of rehabs
are 12 step based.) This needs to be exposed and defunded. 12 step program lies have been presented
as absolute medical fact for decades and FYI American public Drew Pinsky a huge salesman for this scam
is not a trained psychiatrist. 12 steps need to be out of our healthcare system and our courts.

September 08 2012 at 4:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Narcotics or alcohol difficulties sends yet another celebrity to rehabilitation every week or so, it seems. The cost is considerable for a residential, inpatient rehabilitation center. People with a lot of money are among the few who can afford to get into an intense, live-in rehab program.

June 08 2011 at 3:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Spend your millions on rehab....and then when you are broke and tired, go to a 12 step meeting because you want and need to and are ready. Then and only then will you begin the recovery process. Rehab may clean you up, sober you up and perhaps point you in the right direction, but without desire there will be no recovery.

June 06 2011 at 4:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to tomshawed's comment

Tom: I agree. But AA is not for everyone, and has a less than 10% success rate. AA is no different than any other for profit "non profit". Educate yourself about NALTREXONE, using the Sinclair Method. 100% effective if used as directed; and clinically proven 78% success rate (includes the backsliders who truly were not comitted).
Alcoholism is not a Disease, it is a learned behavior.... and it can be unlearned safely, without withdrawl, 12 steps, or any other nonsense.

August 26 2011 at 1:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have always been of the belief that if you want to quit something bad enough, you will just quit, period. If you hang with a bunch of druggies and drinkers, well like the old saying goes, you are who your friends are, stop hanging with people who will pull you down, time to grow up and accept lives responsibilities, we all have problems, childhood issues, debt, ect, don't make the problem worse buy adding drugs and drink to the situation.

June 06 2011 at 12:04 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Jerricho Cotheri

Many people have a misconception as they don't consider alcohol as drugs. I am not sure to what my are was addicted. It was a powdered substance which may be marijuana nicotine or like. Have you seen a drug addict when I have doesn't get drugs? I have seen my own are shout at me and behave abnormally when I did not get drugs. There are so many reasons for which a person gets addicted to drugs. Starting from peer pressure to girlfriend-boyfriend break up, youngsters opt for drugs so that they can get rid of the problems. I have read on the blog of FindRxOnline that this should be treated quickly because addiction is a serious problem.

June 06 2011 at 10:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply