Insurance in the Drug and Alcohol Treatment Landscape

Insurance and drug & alcohol treatment

Without insurance, most average people would not be able to afford basic care, let alone the extensive and expensive procedures such as surgery or drug and alcohol treatment. As the price of medical care increases so does the need for it to become affordable for the general public. Unlike other countries, which subsidize their healthcare through the government, the United States requires that citizens be responsible for paying for their own treatment. Though this is good in theory, it can lead to many numbers of people uninsured if they cannot afford the monthly premiums. When we draw this insurance scope into the field of drug and alcohol treatment, many issues arise that seem to stand in the way of addicts getting the true help they need.

In most cases, common health insurance providers will cover drug and alcohol treatment, but only for a short length of time. On average, 28 days for most basic plans is seen to be the norm. Though this is great, and may offer some addicts the opportunity to get treatment they would otherwise not get, it has been proven that this length of time is not nearly enough for most people to have sustained, long term recovery from drugs and alcohol. One month is not even enough time for most drug users to stop experiencing post-acute withdrawal symptoms, a highlighted feature of drug addiction, which is often attributed to relapse and can leave drug addicts feeling “off” for long periods of time. I have had many personal encounters with addicts in recovery who have tried short-term rehabs and treatment facilities to no avail. They are a good foot in the door for many seeking recovery, but usually don’t even scratch the surface of what it takes to stay sober permanently.

Sobriety requires hard work and dedication, months upon months of practiced and learned behavior, and isn’t something that is just cleared up after a month. For most, it is a lifelong disease, just like diabetes, and to maintain it demands routine lifestyle changes that can take some time to be put in place and practiced.

Alcoholism and drug addiction often encompass other types of mental health issues as well such as anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts. These forms of mental disorders often take long periods of time to recover from, and involve deep personal relationships with therapists, counselors and support groups. Relationships that cannot be adequately made in just less than thirty days.

It is important for all to be reminded that addiction is a disease and should be treated as such. It is only recently that this fact has really been brought to light, and most viewed drug addicts and alcoholics as people without will power, or with flimsy morals. This stereotype has hindered treatment and the funding for it for years. Not only that, but also most addicts seeking treatment unfortunately do not always attain sobriety within their first attempt, and may end up going to multiple treatment centers over the course of their life, greatly increasing the cost to providers.

Insurance is a wonderful tool, enabling access to medical care that would otherwise be unobtainable to people with limited resource. Also, recent times have been promising for the future of addiction treatment. As the stigma has been minimized insurance providers are starting to understand exactly how much effort is required for recovery. And that it isn’t cheap. Hopefully this trend will continue, and we will see coverage for long-term, successful programs that can consistently help addicts turn a new leaf and find recovery. This is on the horizon, but we are not there just yet. Awareness and education about successful treatment practices and programs is essential for really getting to the root of the issues at hand, and ensuring that proper funding is allocated to those in need.

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