Affordable Drug Rehab: When Is the Right Time?

At what time of year is drug or alcohol rehab treatment the most affordable? For many people, the last few months of the year are the most practical. “The holidays can be a hard time for everyone, especially for people with addiction and their families,” says David Sack, MD, chief medical officer at Elements Behavioral Health. “Nonetheless, very few people will seek treatment during the holidays, because they know family members will be more generous of spirit and less judgmental, and because they want things to be better than they really are.” For these reasons, says Dr. Sack, it can be hard to convince someone to enter a drug treatment center during the holidays. This is unfortunate, because the holidays—and the weeks leading up to them—are really an ideal time to get addiction treatment or get a loved one into treatment. It’s not just in order to make rehab affordable either. Here are several reasons why:

1. Addictive behaviors often escalate and lead to crises during the holidays.

Eruptions at family gatherings, DUIs and other crises can be an effective time to talk with an addict about their drug or alcohol problem. The consequences of their addiction are difficult to deny following these types of incidents. Although rehab is likely the last place a person imagines spending their holidays, the alternative may be another disastrous season spent drunk or high and careening from crisis to crisis, while the family tries to pick up the pieces. “The holidays, often because of the crises the addicted loved one creates, afford opportunities to work with the individual who has a drug or alcohol problem and develop a plan,” says Dr. Sack.

2. You’re more likely to have met your annual insurance deductible at the end of the year. This means a more affordable drug rehab experience.

Many drug and alcohol treatment centers accept a range of health insurance providers. And, by the time Thanksgiving arrives you’re likely to have met your annual insurance deductible. This can mean that insurance covers a larger chunk of the overall cost of treatment. Contact a couple of alcohol and drug treatment centers and ask them to work with your insurance company to determine how much of the cost would be covered for a November/December addiction treatment program.

3. Most people take time off during the holidays—no questions asked.

Since this is the time of year when many people take extended vacations to spend time with family, it’s unlikely that a longer absence over the holidays will draw attention or be considered a problem. Some companies close for a week or two in November-December which, combined with accrued vacation or sick time, could free you up for a stay at a drug treatment center. Again, this means a more affordable drug rehab experience, given the same length of time.

4. Drug and alcohol treatment centers are less likely to have wait lists.

Enrollment in addiction treatment tends to be a bit lower over the holidays and then peaks in January—possibly leading to longer waiting lists at that time. Addiction treatment centers are open November through December, so you’re more likely to get into the one you want. This lull also means you might experience a quieter rehab environment, with smaller group sessions and more time with treatment staff. You can approach your treatment as a retreat away from the chaos of your life during the most chaotic time of year.

5. Rehab is a safe place to be during a high-risk time.

Holidays can be particularly hard on people with addiction, because the onslaught of seasonal activities, emotionally charged family gatherings and memories can be stressful. All the stress only exacerbates cravings and addictive behaviors. Entering a drug or alcohol treatment center during the holidays allows you to bypass these seasonal triggers and also avoid potential dangers such as drugged or drunk driving. Holiday rehab offers you a safe environment where you are surrounded by supportive people while you’re learning relapse prevention strategies and constructive coping mechanisms for recovery. Sources 5 Ironies that Keep Addicts Sick Over the Holidays. David Sack, MD. Psych Central, 2012. Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition). How long does drug addiction treatment usually last? National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health, 2012. Health Financing. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Updated, 2017. Insurance and Payments. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). 2015.

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