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Taking the cure: kicking a drug habit in Arkansas costs anywhere from $250 to $30,000.

Taking The Cure Kicking A Drug Habit In Arkansas Costs Anywhere From $250 To $30,000

Just over one year ago, Bob was a regular at several city bars and, after closing time, he could be seen wherever there was a line of cocaine. A responsible and affable man in his mid-30s who had worked at the same company for 14 years, Bob was able to function well enough through several months of "constant partying" that it came as a complete surprise to his brother when Bob's boss called to ask what was the matter with Bob.

Bob's brother learned that Bob was suddenly missing work regularly. In an intense confrontation, he also learned his brother had run through several thousand dollars in a period of just a few weeks.

"We were completely in the dark about what to do," his brother recalls, "but, we knew he needed help fast."

After looking in the phone book, they called Baptist Medical System's CareUnit. After an initial interview, "they told us it would cost between $10,000 to $12,000 for their standard treatment period of 28 days and they needed $2,500 down," says the brother. The final bill was the full $12,000. "It was just like in a regular hospital. Every Tylenol or whatever cost extra."

Bob's Cadillac treatment plan is plush compared to state and federally subsidized centers that charge as little as $250 for a full stay. Bob just celebrated his first anniversary of chemical-free living and his name has been changed for this story because he worries telling it will embarrass his family. But he's not alone.

According to the Arkansas Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention, an estimated 247,856 persons in the state in 1988 had an alcohol or other drug abuse problem. An equally depressing figure is the $308 million in estimated annual losses to the state due directly to substance abuse, ranging from law enforcement and judicial costs to lost job productivity and treatment costs.

Further, that estimate fails to include many secondary costs such as higher health care costs and demands placed upon the state Department of Human Services and other support services by families of alcohol and other drug abusers.

Getting Help

Non-profit residential treatment-centers in central Arkansas such as the Twenty-Four Hour Center Inc. will not turn anyone away, regardless of their ability to pay. Jeff Amos, administrative director at the center, says, "Arkansas is one of the states that doesn't distinguish inability to pay from refusal to pay... We can't turn anyone away even if they have the money and won't pay." The downside is these centers usually have a waiting list of applicants.

There are alternatives. Several private, for-profit, addiction treatment centers opened in the area during the 1980s, but they are expensive.

A representative of the Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention of the Department of Human Services recently estimated for-profit treatment ranges from $6,000 to $30,000 depending upon length of stay and treatment of related problems.

PHOTO : SOLVING PROBLEMS: Addiction treatment centers like Charter Hospital are trying to do a better job of diagnosis.
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Author:Marshall, Bryce
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Jun 18, 1990
Words:523
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