This is my third blog post on the subject of alcohol/drug rehabs. I pointed out in the first that with few exceptions insurance no longer covers rehab (meaning the month-long version that most people think of), though they may cover detox (a few days) followed by a day program (sometimes with optional self-pay lodging). Rehabs (like some of the best known and most reliable ones, such as Hazelden and Caron) cost well over $30,000 or $40,000. I have also cautioned about sorting out fact from hype when reading impressive claims about success rates when you attempt to choose among the many, many rehabs with glossy brochures and web sites (most of them outside Massachusetts).
In this post, I seek to alert you to a couple of other quagmires into which it might be easy to slip.
“Yes, we take insurance! We’ll help you arrange it!” Let’s look at what this means. Often it will mean, “We take insurance for the few days that are considered detox, just like the facilities you have nearby; after that you’re on your own, and in fact, please pay up front.” In some cases it will mean, “We take some insurances – but we may discover after you’ve given us a deposit, that we don’t take yours.” Or it may mean, “Oh, I see we don’t take your insurance, but we have a special program for paying off your stay” (with a high rate of interest, just like putting it on a credit card).
“Have you heard? Abstinence isn’t necessary; AA is useless; and we have the cure!” These claims will be elaborated upon with references to studies (some real) showing that (a) in rare cases people labeled or mis-labeled alcoholic returned to moderate drinking for at least a period of time; (b) many people who try AA do not latch onto it and thus do not benefit from it (also true of gyms, yoga, and healthy eating plans); (c) individual claims of people who seemed to lose the desire to drink or drug in such a way that they felt “cured.” Facilities making these claims are often among those (mentioned in the previous blog post) that claim near-100% success rates (which is the tip-off that they are playing fast and loose with the truth). I would suggest regarding most of these facilities in the same way that you treat late-night infomercials claiming that you will become thin with well-defined abs by taking a pill or using a plastic device (only $19.95 plus shipping and handling, and if you order now they’ll send another one free). Or how about life insurance for people over 70 that only costs $10/month and no one is turned down? It is important to remember that these “health care” facilities are, more importantly, profit-making enterprises.
Next in this series (sometime soon), (1) who actually needs a rehab, and (2) a discussion of less expensive residential options (which of course also have their plusses and minuses).
Jeff Fortgang, PhD