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The Costs of Alcohol and Drug Treatment

SAMHSA Releases Data on Average Cost of Services

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Updated December 31, 2007

The average cost for treatment of alcohol or drug abuse in outpatient facilities was an estimated $1,433 per course of treatment in 2002, according to a new report released by The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The report, "Alcohol and Drug Services Study Cost Study," finds that residential treatment for alcohol or drug abuse cost $3,840 per admission and outpatient methadone treatment cost $7,415 per admission in 2002.

"Treatment is a bargain compared to expenditures for jails, foster care for children, and health complications that often accompany addiction," SAMHSA Administrator Charles Curie said. "Rarely do we have public initiatives that can save society as much as substance abuse treatment and recovery support services. Treatment provides an opportunity for recovery for the individual, better homes for children, and improved safety for our communities."

The data show that it costs $17.78 on average for an outpatient methadone treatment visit, and $26.72 per visit for outpatient non-methadone treatment. Methadone is a medication provided in specialty facilities to treat the cravings associated with addiction to heroin or prescription narcotic pain medications. For non-hospital residential treatment, the average cost per day was $76.13.

Personnel costs comprised the largest component of costs for all types of treatment. Personnel costs amounted to 63 percent of non-hospital residential care, 65 percent of outpatient methadone treatment and 79 percent of outpatient non-methadone treatment.

The report is based on site visits to 280 facilities that were chosen following a telephone survey of a nationally representative sample of 2,395 treatment facilities. The site visits collected details on costs, clients served, staffing and services provided. In addition, client data were obtained from a sample of client treatment records.

The study assessed the validity of the data collected using automated programs that tested the relationships among client counts, costs, staffing and other resource and utilization measures.

The report is available online.

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