Methadone maintenance treatment is one of the most effective and beneficial treatment types for opioid addiction. While the treatment has been around since the 1960s, it has more recently become one of the more respected and widely used treatments for opioid addiction for many individuals. Currently, over “100,000 American addicts” are under methadone maintenance treatment for addiction to opioids (Harvard Medical School).
But how feasible is the treatment for someone who is truly working through a long-term addiction? How expensive is it? And is it less so than other opioid addiction treatments?
What is the Standard Cost for Methadone Treatment?
According to the DSHS of Washington state, “The standard rate for methadone treatment is about $10 per day.” This is for the medication which is taken once daily, but there can be other costs as well. Usually, these costs come in the beginning of treatment where some patients may be asked to pay for blood tests, drug tests, and other important elements that are needed to determine exactly how the patient will receive treatment.
Without these costs, however, $10 per day is standard. This may seem difficult for many addicts to pay, as drug addiction can cause many monetary and financial issues for an individual. But, considering the fact that according to CESAR, “the average heroin addict can spend up to $200 per day to maintain” that addiction, it is actually less expensive in many cases than staying addicted to opioids.
Are There Aspects of Treatment that Can Affect the Cost?
Absolutely. Someone can receive methadone maintenance treatment that is more or less expensive, depending on other aspects of the treatment itself. Methadone can be received in both an outpatient and an inpatient setting, a choice which makes a large difference in price already. If you are in need of 24-hour care, you should consider inpatient treatment, but it can be more costly. If you have a strong support system, a less severe addiction, and no other psychiatric disorders, then outpatient treatment will probably be more effective for you while also being less expensive.
Other aspects of methadone treatment that can affect the cost one way or another are:
- The inclusion or exclusion of vocational training, nutritional classes, art therapy, and other holistic or nontraditional treatment types.
- Choosing a facility that is close to you or one that is far away, the former eliminating airfare, gas, or other travel costs and the need to find living arrangements if you choose a local outpatient clinic as opposed to a nonlocal one
- Choosing a nonprofit, low-cost, or free facility as opposed to a private facility
Local facilities can be much less expensive than those that are farther away which can make it more practical for an individual looking for treatment to stay close to home. And, depending on your needs, you may choose a facility that eliminates unnecessary treatment types or that is less expensive, works on a sliding fee scale, or is even free.
Do Free and Low-Cost Methadone Treatment Centers Exist?
Yes, they do. But they can sometimes have long waits. You may choose to wait or to look for another facility, but if you are not able to afford regular treatment, free methadone centers are meant to help you find treatment regardless of your monetary issues. People who try to become patients at free methadone treatment centers are often asked about their financial situations in order to make sure those who truly need free treatment get it.
According to SAMHSA, 4% of all substance abuse treatment facilities are completely free while a much larger number provide “some type of payment assistance” to patients who can pay on a sliding scale and/or are given partial free care (72.3%).
Can I Afford the Methadone Treatment Cost?
It is important to ask yourself this question before you go into treatment, but many individuals who are in dire financial situations are able to pay for methadone treatment. This specific type of treatment and many of the centers that provide it are generally set up in a way that patients are able to receive beneficial treatment at a fair price.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Does a large amount of my money go toward heroin or the abuse of another opioid?
- Can I afford $10 a day for treatment?
- Do I have friends and family members who may be able to help me?
- Have I considered other alternatives where I may find help in order to pay for my methadone treatment?
Methadone Payment Help
If the cost of methadone treatment is too high, there are many places where you can find help for this issue.
- The Affordable Care Act has made many changes to the way addiction treatment is handled and perceived by the healthcare community. “It… includes prevention, early intervention, and treatment of mental and or substance use disorders as an ‘essential health benefit’ (EHB) that must be covered by health plans that are offered through the Health Insurance Marketplace” (SAMHSA). Contact your health provider or find out if you may be eligible for free or low-cost treatment through a specific health plan.
- Talking to your doctor, doctors at a free clinic, or the staff at a community outreach program may help you find less expensive treatment facilities that are local to you.
- Searching treatment center listings like MethadoneCenters.com can help you find free or partial free clinics.
The Bottom Line
Overall, methadone treatment is usually less costly than simply staying on the drug. According to the DSHS, “The average net cost offset is $765 per person per month for methadone treatment for opiate addiction” when compared to those who continue to abuse these drugs. Methadone may seem too costly at first, but it is actually less expensive in the long-run than going untreated which usually leads to continued drug abuse, overdose, and other financial and legal issues. And, as stated by the NIJ, methadone is actually cost effective economically as well: “for every $1 spent on [methadone maintenance treatment], $4 is accrued in economic benefit.”