Addiction Causes Financial Crisis for Families

Some families are spending their savings and amassing huge deb paying for drug rehab that often doesn’t work. More than 20 percent of those admitted for treatment have had four or more previous rounds.

The addiction crisis that is killing tens of thousands of Americans is creating a financial crisis for many families, compounding the anguish caused by a loved one’s destructive illness. Families are burning through savings and amassing huge debt paying for rehab that often doesn’t work, the Wall Street Journal reports. The rehab field is fragmented, with thousands of small providers offering treatment that often isn’t grounded in science. Some lack medical professionals or licensed counselors, reflecting the field’s roots in 12-step sobriety principles rather than medicine. Rehab services often cost big money, which insurers don’t always cover.

Parents and family members desperate to keep their loved ones from overdosing find themselves shelling out again and again through rounds of recovery and relapse. Federal data show that 22.5 percent of admissions for substance-abuse treatment involve someone who has already had one previous round of treatment. Another 21 percent involve people who have had two or three previous rounds, and 20.2 percent are for those who have had four or more, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. From 2012 through 2016, spending for substance-use admissions to inpatient facilities rose 54 percent per person in this group, which includes about half the U.S. population, according to an analysis of insurance claims by the nonprofit Health Care Cost Institute. For some families, bankruptcy is the outcome. Theo Haskins, a 57-year-old accountant in Utah, says her son’s long fight with addiction contributed to her bankruptcy filing in 2013. She says she spent tens of thousands of dollars on nearly a dozen rounds of rehab, even after insurers kicked in more than $300,000. Last year, her son Mitchell died of an overdose. “I spent literally every penny I had,” Ms. Haskins says. “After all this, I failed.”