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Cost of Heroin Addiction Treatment

The cost of treatment for heroin addiction and heroin withdrawal management can vary based on what level of care you need, where you go, how long you stay, and other factors. The 3 main types of treatment are detox, inpatient, and outpatient care.
The cost can range from a couple thousand to tens of thousands of dollars a month. Options to pay for treatment include insurance, loans, savings, borrowing, payment plans, and crowdfunding.

Detox

The price of medical detox ranges from approximately $500 to $650 out of pocket per day.1
Opioid detox programs are designed to keep you medically stable while your body clears itself of the addictive substance. It allows you to remain as safe and comfortable as possible while you go through withdrawal.

In addition to medical detox, which includes the use of medication to alleviate withdrawal symptoms and cravings, some people opt for social detox, which does not usually rely on medication. However, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration does not advise nonmedical detox for people going through significant heroin withdrawal. Without medication to relieve withdrawal symptoms, you will likely go through unnecessary suffering and may be at risk for medical complications and relapse.2

You can undergo a supervised medical detox as an inpatient (meaning you live at a detox facility) or detox on an outpatient basis (meaning you live at home and travel on a regular schedule to a facility). For many, medically supervised detox provides some advantages over other forms of detox because you receive medical monitoring and medications to facilitate the process. Should you require it, you also receive medical care for any co-occurring mental or physical health problems.

Some of the heroin detox medications you may receive include:2, 3

  • This is one of the most commonly prescribed medications for opioid withdrawal. Methadone is an opioid agonist, which means it activates the same receptors in your brain that heroin acts on. It helps reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Methadone must be dispensed by an opioid treatment program (OTP).
  • This is a partial opioid agonist, which means that while it fully binds to the same receptors that drugs like heroin do, it only partially activates these opioid receptors in your brain so you don’t experience a full opioid effect (as with heroin). However, it has proven to be just as effective as methadone at alleviating cravings and withdrawal symptoms when given for the correct duration and in the proper amount. You can receive buprenorphine from a certified physician (and, due to recent legislation, until October 1, 2021, from a qualified nurse practitioner or physician assistant).
  • This medication is an alpha-adrenergic agonist normally used to treat high blood pressure. It can treat heroin withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, agitation, sweating, runny nose, and cramping, but may be less effective for insomnia, muscle pain, bone pain, and headache.

Detox helps you begin the path to recovery by helping you overcome withdrawal symptoms and cravings as your body rids itself of heroin’s influence. However, you will need to enroll in an addiction rehabilitation program to continue your recovery and learn the skills you’ll need for clean and sober living.

Inpatient

The price for inpatient treatment varies by the facility but can cost between $500 and $650 per day.1

Inpatient heroin treatment is designed for people who require high levels of care, have severe or long-standing addictions, or have co-occurring psychiatric and/or medical issues.4

You live for the duration of treatment (which is usually 30-90 days or longer) at a rehab facility. You participate in a wide range of treatments that can vary by facility but usually include individual and group counseling, self-help groups (such as Narcotics Anonymous), and psychoeducation to strengthen your coping skills and help you avoid relapse.

Some of the advantages of inpatient treatment include:

  • 24/7 care, meaning that you’ll be monitored by professional staff around the clock.
  • Being removed from your using environment and triggers, such as people with whom you used to use, which may make it easier for you to focus on sobriety.
  • The availability of integrated medical care to treat any physical or mental health issues that may arise.
  • The opportunity to completely devote yourself to becoming clean and sober without the distractions of work or other day-to-day concerns.

Depending on your situation, some potential disadvantages of inpatient treatment can include:

  • The higher cost of treatment.
  • Being away from your family, friends, and work.
  • Living in a new or “strange” place, especially if you are uncomfortable being away from your home environment.

Outpatient

The rate for partial hospitalization ranges from $350 to $450 per day. Intensive outpatient care and standard outpatient care range from $250 to $350 per day.1

With outpatient treatment, you live at home and travel regularly to the facility on a predetermined schedule. You participate in many of the same therapies offered at inpatient treatment (such as counseling and psychoeducation), but on a less intensive scale. Depending on the program, you might need to attend treatment anywhere between 1 and 5 days per week.

Based on your specific needs, you may choose from different levels of care, such as:4

  • Partial hospitalization, or day treatment. You travel to a facility, usually 5 days a week for 4 to 6 hours per day. Partial hospitalization offers a higher level of care for people with severe addictions who prefer to live at home.
  • Intensive outpatient. You travel to a treatment facility for 2 or more days per week and receive treatment for at least 3 hours per day. People who complete inpatient rehab often transition to an intensive outpatient program for continued treatment.
  • Low- or moderate-intensity outpatient. This form of treatment is intended for people with less severe addictions and a supportive home environment. You attend the program between 1 and 2 days per week.

Factors that Affect Cost

A wide range of factors can affect the cost of treatment, including:

  • Different locations can charge different rates. For example, a celebrity rehab in Malibu is likely to be more expensive than many others. Traveling to another state for treatment can affect the cost, as you will also need to factor in the cost of transportation to the facility.
  • Your insurance coverage. Different plans cover different services, so it’s a good idea to check with your plan administrator to verify your coverage.
  • Type of program. Whether you choose an inpatient or outpatient program can greatly affect treatment costs, with inpatient often being more expensive.
  • Length of stay. The longer the stay, the higher your costs will be.
  • Many programs offer different services and amenities. For example, people who choose luxury treatment centers have access to private rooms and spa-like facilities and resort-like amenities, while those who choose “bare bones” facilities usually have fewer amenities and more basic living spaces.
  • Treatment for other services. Your costs may be higher if you require medication or need treatment for other issues, such as mental health conditions.

Paying for Treatment

There are several options when it comes to paying for treatment.

  • If you have private insurance, see if it covers addiction treatment. If you don’t have insurance, you can look into public insurance programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, or the Affordable Care Act’s state marketplaces for insurance.
  • Payment plans. Most rehabs will work with you to set up a plan to pay off the cost over time or adjust the cost based on what you can afford to pay.
  • You can use money from your savings to pay for rehab.
  • You can take out a loan from a bank. Just make sure you get the loan at an affordable interest rate and that you can pay it back in a reasonable amount of time.
  • You can ask family or friends if they will help you out with the cost of your treatment.
  • Sites such as GoFundMe allow you to set up a campaign for people to help you pay for treatment.
  • Some rehabs will offer scholarships that help cover the cost of attending their program. These are not common and are usually not advertised. But it’s worth asking about.

Cost of Addiction

It might seem like heroin addiction treatment is expensive. But consider the cost of continuing heroin use.

The amount of money heroin users are estimated to spend on heroin each year is around $15,234, and this doesn’t take into account other factors, such as medical costs for drug use-related diseases like HIV and hepatitis, as well as other risks such as incarceration, overdose, and death.5

In addition, people who are addicted to heroin may find it difficult to hold a steady job and maintain their income. In some cases, people have been known to resort to desperate measures that can put them at additional risk, such as stealing, prostitution, scamming, and drug dealing to make money.6

If you or someone you care about has a problem with heroin, it’s important to seek help to stop using and start a clean and sober life. Seeking professional detox and addiction treatment could be the best decision that you (or your loved one) make for taking back control of your life and becoming healthier and happier.

Sources

  1. American Addiction Centers. (2018). How much does alcohol rehab cost?
  2. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2006). Detoxification and substance abuse treatment. Treatment improvement protocol (TIP) series, no. 45. HHS publication no. (SMA) 13­4131. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Medications to treat opioid use disorder.
  4. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2014). Principles of adolescent substance use disorder treatment: A research-based guide: Treatment settings.
  5. Jiang, R., Lee, I., Lee, T., and Pickard, S. (2017). The societal cost of heroin use disorder in the United States. PLOS One, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0177323.
  6. Draus, P. J., Roddy, J., and Greenwald, M. (2010). “I always kept a job”: Income generation, heroin use and economic uncertainty in 21st century DetroitJournal of Drug Issues40(4), 841–869.

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