for Anxy

I’ve read numerous things saying that inpatient treatment centers are a very expensive scam. But I also know people who have gone to rehab and are still sober. What do you think? Is there a way to distinguish between good rehabs and scammy rehabs?


Just Curious

This is a good question, and — as with many things in recovery — there’s not a simple, straightforward answer. But I’ll do my best! If you’re asking if inpatient treatment (also known as rehab) is always necessary for a person to get sober, the answer is no. Many, many people get into recovery with the help of support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (or SMART Recovery, Refuge Recovery, etc.), without ever setting foot inside a traditional treatment center. It is absolutely possible. There are also people who get sober without a support group, though I do think that approach can make the endeavor unnecessarily difficult.

It’s also true that inpatient rehabs can be extremely helpful for some folks. It was for me. I had made attempts at quitting drinking on my own and when those didn’t work, I tried a few 12-step meetings. Again and again, before, after, and occasionally during the meetings, I drank. Sometimes, I would leave meetings and still drink. I needed to be somewhere I couldn’t do that — I needed to be forcibly removed from alcohol. But what that really means is that I had the luxury of being forcibly removed from alcohol. Because, by and large, rehab is expensive as shit. The one I went to certainly is, and it’s more reasonable than most. And while health insurance is much better about covering mental health and addiction treatment as a result of the Affordable Care Act, there are still some limitations on what certain plans will cover — for example, an inpatient facility with more than 16 beds isn’t eligible for Medicaid reimbursement. (There is proposed legislation to change this.)

If rehab is going to cost a bazillion dollars and insurance companies don’t cover all of it, one would at least hope that it’s because you’re getting quality, 24/7 care. As you note in your letter, this is sometimes but not always the case…(continued)