What if Drug Rehab was Free? (And What if it Cost Fifty Grand?)

What if drug rehab was free?

I happen to work in a treatment center so I get to see clients come and go and I witness various degrees of success with these people.

It is amazing how different the funding can be for different clients.  Some people come to the same treatment center, over and over again, without spending a dime of their own money–simply from taxpayer dollars.  Others are not eligible for this, don’t have insurance, and end up having to pay cold hard cash if they want to go to treatment….and of course this runs into the thousands for only a few days worth of detox, and even more if they stay for a week or two.

So I’m just sort of wondering…what does the cost of treatment have to do with the outcomes?

My friend Keith over at drug addiction recovery would probably argue that free treatment is not going to be as beneficial as if someone pays good money for it.  This will be especially true if the person actually worked to produce the money that they are using to go to treatment with.  I believe Keith would argue this based on the fact that he is a recovery coach and receives money from clients to help them realize their goals in life.  He also sponsors people in the fellowship for free and notices a difference between when someone is paying him and when someone is not.

Now traditional 12 step meetings are free and many have found their solution in them, so I am not knocking the “free model.”  But if someone is using rehab like a revolving door then they are not likely to get much benefit out of it.

On the other hand, those who pay exhorbitant prices for luxury treatment centers are probably under the assumption that they can buy their sobriety–or their hopeless family members are under that illusion.  Unfortunately this is not the case.  Relapse rates are miserable regardless of what the treatment costs. Free drug rehab is just as uninspiring as the overpriced luxury treatment center.

The key issue here is if the cost changes the motivation of the individual.  I believe that it can if they actually paid their own way through hard work and earned wages.  But if they are riding on someone else’s dollar then there is no added incentive there to make a more sincere attempt at recovery.