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Substance Abuse and Addiction Health Center

Rehab's Role in Treating Addiction

Experts explain the treatment process at rehab clinics -- for celebrities and for regular folks.
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Who Benefits From Inpatient Care? continued...

Experts say inpatient treatment is most needed by addicts coming from a chaotic environment or who suffer from a severe psychiatric illness. For example, if family members are substance abusers, "an inpatient program will get them out of that environment so some intensive work can be done," Berger says. By contrast, outpatient treatment may be fine for a patient who is married and has a steady job.

A homeless single mom in a drug-infested neighborhood might well qualify for inpatient treatment, experts say; so would a hard-partying celebrity who is constantly traveling between movie sets or concert stages. The difference, of course, is that celebrities can spend a thousand dollars a day or more on treatment, while the homeless mom is at the mercy of the public health system.

High Cost of Treatment

Treatment at Sierra Tucson -- which has treated Ringo Starr, Michael Douglas, and Mark Foley -- costs about $1,200 a day. There's a pool, spa, gym, climbing wall, and even equestrian stables. But Sierra Tucson isn't just a retreat, says Scott; patients spend most of their waking hours in "emotionally draining" recovery activities. "We treat them intensively, and they do well."

Other, simpler inpatient facilities charge lower rates. The RightStep chain, based in Houston, charges $8,500 for a one-month inpatient stay, and says it has "preferred agreements" with many major insurers. (Intensive outpatient treatment costs $3,000).

How to find a good clinic? Ask your doctor or friends, suggests Berger. Look for a clinic that is staffed with addiction-certified counselors and medical staff, says Galusha. And look for a clinic with medical staff that can treat the psychiatric problems that so often accompany substance abuse, says Gordon. That usually means access to psychiatrists as well as counselors, he says.

Treating the High-Profile Ego

Maybe celebrities and others in the public spotlight can afford fancy clinics. But they also face special challenges when it comes to getting clean and sober, say the experts who treat them regularly.

Celebrities and other high-profile people are surrounded by "groups of people who have a vested interest in their success," says Scott. A lot is at stake, whether it's a political campaign, a concert tour, or a movie production. So not everyone in the entourage may be so accepting when an addict needs to take time out for group therapy or to stay away from events where liquor is served.

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