Are Free Drug Rehab Centers Just as Good as Expensive Rehabs?

Are Free Drug Rehab Centers Just as Good as Expensive Rehabs?

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People who have kids or loved ones who are struggling with drug or alcohol addiction have often asked me: “Are free drug rehabs just as good as the expensive ones?”

It’s a valid question, because certainly there is a whole range of different prices out there when it comes to drug addiction treatment.

First of all, you have the absolute super premium treatment centers that are nationally recognized.  These are the top tier rehabs that most people get on a plane and fly to.  These generally run anywhere from a thousand dollars per day up to about two thousand dollars per day.  Of course some of the extreme places cost even more than this.

After that you have the middle tier rehabs that are quite common around the U.S.  These might cost around five hundred dollars per day or so, some a bit more or less.  Most of these are non profit treatment centers.

And then you have places that are set up to operate on the basis of “free.”  They do not expect to get paying customers at all.  For example, a long term rehab that is set up to house homeless drug addicts and alcoholics who are trying to recover.  Such places do exist, and are generally government funded.  So tax money pays for the treatment, but for all of the potential clients who use the facility, it is effectively free.  They pay nothing.

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Now it is perfectly natural in our lives to expect that the treatment that you receive for two thousand dollars per day is going to be far superior to the treatment that you get from a homeless shelter turned into a makeshift rehab.

However, having been to both extremes myself, I can honestly say that it just doesn’t matter that much.  Certainly it is nowhere near what we experience in other areas of our lives: for example, a car that costs twenty thousand compared to a car that costs two hundred dollars.  We all know what a difference in quality and experience that comparison would have.  It is very significant.

But with rehabs, the difference is not so significant, and in fact, it might even be completely meaningless.

Consider the fact that the success rate of a top tier treatment center is actually no better than that of a super cheap rehab.  You will notice that some of the elite and expensive rehabs attempt to boast about a high rate of success, but if you look deeper into their figures, you will see manipulation.  For example, they discard addicts and alcoholics who relapse from their statistics if they did not follow through on all of their aftercare (duh).  Such manipulation of statistics is very easy to do and skews the numbers toward being much more positive than they really are.

It just doesn’t matter.  If you send a thousand addicts to a free rehab, and send another thousand addicts to a top tier rehab such as Hazelden, about 5 percent or so from each group will still be clean and sober a year later.  That is the deal.  I am sure that Hazelden publishes better figures than that, but like I mentioned, they tend to use “optimistic reporting” based on discarding of client data that did not follow through with every little aftercare recommendation.  But the bottom line is that it just doesn’t matter much.  If you are desperate to get sober and go to ANY rehab, you have a pretty good shot at turning your life around.

And most importantly:

If you are NOT ready to get clean and sober, then it does not matter where you go. I don’t care if it costs 2 grand per day.  You ain’t gonna stay clean, and they ain’t gonna change your mind.

So yeah, my opinion?  Just get to a rehab.  Any rehab.  They all work pretty much the same.

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