Cost Difference between Inpatient & Outpatient Treatment?

More than 8 percent of the American adult population battled addiction in 2014, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). As addiction is a complex disease that affects each individual differently, there are more than 14,500 specialty drug addiction treatment facilities to choose from in the United States, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports. Generally speaking, there are two main forms of addiction treatment: inpatient and outpatient programs.

While specific costs vary greatly, generally, inpatient treatment costs between $10,000 and $20,000 for a standard 30-day program, and $25,000 plus for a 30-day premium program. An inpatient treatment program is typically more expensive, as it is a comprehensive model that includes lodging, meals, medical care, and a host of therapeutic, supportive, and educational programs around the clock in a supervised and structured environment. Individuals stay on site and participate in a rigorous daily routine. Inpatient treatment models vary in their accommodations and amenities, and a luxury treatment facility with more offerings is liable to cost more than a standard one.

Again, specific costs vary greatly from facility to facility, but generally, outpatient treatment costs between $2,000 and $7,000 for a standard low-cost outpatient treatment program, and between $3,000 and $10,000 for an intensive outpatient program. Outpatient programs can range from intensive outpatient programs, which mirror residential programs except that the person returns home each evening, to more flexible standard outpatient models. With an outpatient treatment program, individuals can schedule their meetings and sessions around existing work, school, and family obligations.

Depending on how many hours a person spends at the facility and what type of services they require, the cost can be highly variable. On average though, outpatient treatment will cost quite a bit less than an inpatient treatment program, although the care may be less comprehensive in nature.

Services Provided

There is quite a bit of variety even within a similar treatment model, and cost will often depend on geographical location as well as the particular services offered. Different types of services may have variable costs associated with them. Many of these services may be offered as part of an inpatient or outpatient care plan, and programs are usually individually tailored to the person in need.

Trained substance abuse treatment providers work with individuals and loved ones to design a care plan that will be optimal in achieving sobriety and sustaining recovery, while remaining within the family’s budget. Types of services that may be provided or offered include:

  • Detox services: These help a person to process alcohol and/or drugs safely out of the body. Detox usually lasts 3-7 days.
  • Pharmacological management: Medications can be helpful tools during detox and treatment, aiding in managing cravings, withdrawal symptoms, and any co-occurring mental health or medical issues.
  • Therapy: Group, family, and individual sessions help people to work through issues surrounding addiction and other maladaptive and self-destructive behaviors. Typically, behavioral therapy is an important aspect of any addiction treatment program as it can serve to help individuals improve negative thoughts, learn healthy coping skills, and enhance self-esteem and self-reliance.
  • Life skills training sessions: Sessions may focus on anger management, communication skills, and other beneficial tools for enhancing self-esteem and leading productive lives.
  • Educational programs: These services usually cover topics related to addiction and recovery, and they may be open to both families and clients alike.
  • Support group meetings: Peer support or 12-Step groups offer a safe and healthy network of people who strive for the common goal of sobriety.
  • Holistic, complementary, and adjunctive therapy and offerings: A multitude of options are available for treating addiction in tandem with traditional methods. These complementary options include acupuncture, massage therapy, yoga, mindfulness meditation, art therapy, chiropractic care, spa treatments, and more. Luxury and premium treatment programs are more likely to offer a range of these type of services.
  • Nutritional planning: Trained nutritionists can help individuals to regain physical health through a balanced diet. Inpatient treatment programs often provide this as part of standard care.
  • Fitness programs: Exercise can be highly beneficial during addiction treatment and recovery, and fitness regimes may be included as part of an inpatient treatment program.
  • Transitional housing: These homes are a kind of in-between level of care after a person has completed an inpatient program but isn’t quite ready to return home and back into everyday life. Complete abstinence is expected, and house chores may be a requirement. Groups of people live together in these homes while easing back into society, often attending therapy, counseling, and support group meetings while living there.
  • Aftercare and alumni services: These are often provided at little or no cost by the facility where treatment was rendered. They can help to minimize instances of relapse and provide ongoing support into recovery.

These services can vary widely in their cost. Outpatient programs may allow individuals to choose which services they will use and base payment on how many hours a person spends in a particular type of treatment, while an inpatient program typically includes a set of services and offerings as part of a strict daily schedule.

When a person is physically and chemically dependent on drugs or alcohol, detox services are often required before entering into either an outpatient or residential treatment program, and detox services can cost between $300 and $800 a day. Medical detox is the most comprehensive form of detox, and also therefore more expensive, as it provides an individual with 24-hour care and supervision.

Therapy and counseling services can range from free to around $150 per hour and may often be covered by insurance up to a certain point. Premium and luxury amenities, such as spa services, massage therapy, complementary therapy methods like equine or art therapy, nutrition planning, personal trainer appointments, chiropractic care, and acupuncture, may be part of an inpatient program or paid for individually with an outpatient program. Support group meetings, relapse prevention, aftercare services, and educational programs are usually free and often offered through community-based programs.

Paying for Treatment

patient worried about paying for rehab treatmentPublic treatment programs may be free or very low cost for individuals who demonstrate financial need and meet specific criteria. A person will often need a referral from a primary care provider in order to receive care. Public, state, or federally funded programs can be more difficult to get into right away and may not be as comprehensive as a privately funded program.

Many insurance policies can help people to defray some of the costs of addiction treatment. For instance, therapy and counseling sessions may be covered up to a certain amount within a calendar year. Outpatient services may be more readily covered as well, or a person may be required to attempt outpatient rehab before coverage will kick in for inpatient care. Payment plans and loans are also options that may be used to help pay for addiction treatment.

Addiction can be expensive, costing society around $700 billion annually in costs related to crime, healthcare, and lost workplace production, NIDA publishes. While an addiction treatment program may seem cost prohibitive at first, it can actually save individuals, families, and society as a whole money in the long run. Put simply, continued drug use costs more down the line than treatment does. In fact, NIDA further reports that addiction treatment can save a person as much as $12 for every $1 invested in care.

Addiction is also a relapsing and chronic disease, so the more time a person spends in treatment, the better the outcomes typically are. NIDA recommends no less than 90 days in any kind of treatment program. Inpatient programs are thought to provide the highest standard and quality of care for a long and sustained recovery; however, any type of treatment can make a substantial difference in a person’s life.

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