The Cost of Rehab: Why Is Rehab So Expensive?

Are you wondering how much it costs to go to drug and alcohol rehab?

The fees for residential rehab range widely, from under $5,000 per month to well over 10 times that amount. What should rehab cost, and what should it include? There are some obvious costs (as well as some hidden expenses) that affect the quality of your experience and possibly your outcomes. There are many things to consider when looking for the right treatment setting for your client, yourself or a loved one.

The House

In California any single family home can be licensed for up to six beds, without requiring special zoning approval. These houses-turned-rehabs vary widely in terms of size, location, and amenities. Some rehabs offer private bedrooms for all, others offer shared rooms with up to 3 or 4 per room. Some offer private baths, while others have shared baths. The cost for privacy vs. shared space is significant. Additionally, the size of the house affects the hidden expenses of utilities, maintenance, and cleaning and household supplies. If the facility doesn’t place importance on these expenses, it will be obvious. You will also want to consider location. You will likely pay more for a rehab located in a coastal and luxurious setting like Malibu or La Jolla. Finally, consider amenities. How important are a swimming pool, spa and tennis courts? Are these amenities (which will significantly impact the cost of your treatment) imperative to recovery?

Treatment Options

Traditionally, group meetings and group therapy have been the gold standard for rehab. However, a higher priced rehab may offer more individual sessions and more holistic treatment options than its lower cost competitor. As with anything, customized and individualized treatment will cost more.

Professional Staff

Drug and alcohol counselors staff some rehabs and others are staffed by master’s level, or in some cases, doctoral level clinicians who have years of experience in the field of addiction treatment. The quality and training of the professional staff will significantly affect the price of a rehab. These clinicians will provide individual treatment as well as other fundamental treatment services such as groups, treatment/discharge planning, documentation, and communication with outside providers and family. Consider how capable the hands are that you are putting your future in.

Resident Assistant Staff

In many ways, resident assistants are the heart of the facility. They facilitate daily operations such as medication disbursement, resident intake and household tasks. They also serve as models for healthy boundaries and relationships as clients return to normal social activity. In addition, resident assistants are responsible for resident safety, including physical safety, keeping substances out of the house and protecting the clients from unwanted visitors. Some rehabs will compromise in this area to cut costs. However, other facilities will invest in ongoing resident assistant training (in addition to the legally required CPR and First Aid) and always staff enough resident assistants to maintain an uncompromised therapeutic experience for all residents.

The Food

Consider how important a healthy diet is in recovery. The food itself is critical. Some rehabs will provide limited food options, while others will provide freshly prepared organic, nutritious and well-balanced meals with an emphasis on farm to table meats and produce. It is also important that you know whether your vegetarian, vegan, kosher, lactose-intolerant, low sodium, gluten free and other dietary requests will be honored. While this will likely increase the expense of a rehab, it is not an area that should be compromised. Healthy eating can actually help you stay sober.

Transportation and Outside Activities

Some rehabs will provide transportation, outside activities and concierge care. Transportation to/from the airport, appointments and the gym reduce the stress of having to arrange it yourself. Residents also enjoy substance-free activities like beach walks, social activities and recreational outings. While clients will definitely benefit from these all-inclusive benefits, it will certainly drive up the price of rehab.

In conclusion, as in other areas of life, you get what you pay for. Of course, the decision about where and how one recovers is ultimately in the hands of the individual seeking recovery. However, the main advantage of a higher priced rehab is not just in the creature comforts, but primarily in the quality of professional staff and the individual attention that can (but does not necessarily) come with it. Buyers beware.

Are you looking for addiction treatment? Download our free treatment facility comparison guide to help you in your search!