njtoday.net: Cost of Addiction Treatment in New Jersey


by Sarah Landrum

Should there be a cap on the cost of health and happiness? It’s an unfortunate truth that drug and alcohol addiction continues across the country. Most people are at least familiar with the concept of a 12-step program, a program developed to aid drug or alcohol addicts overcome their addiction. The 12-step program has been questioned in regards to the rising cost of addiction.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration(SAMHSA), addiction treatment is a $35 billion industry. However, the success rate of other forms of addiction therapy is not enough for treatment facilities to overhaul their programs.

Is a 12-step program the best way to help patients while keeping medical costs in check?

The Dependent Success of 12-Step Programs

Addiction treatment centers use a 12-step program for a guideline, but both the program’s and the center’s success depends on the dedication of the patient. That means that addicts who aren’t ready to admit they have a problem might drop out — only to re-enter the program numerous times in the future, which increases the total amount spent on their recovery.

The fear of detoxing, the reality that some people don’t want to stop using, and further fear of detoxing only to relapse cause some patients to accrue an even larger bill.

Action in New Jersey

Heroin and opiate use have been on the rise in New Jersey for years. According to thePartnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey, “in only one year, heroin deaths of 18­–25 year olds in New Jersey rose 24%.” In response to alarming statistics and increasing public concern, New Jersey has begun to take serious action.


In October 2014, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie “announced more than $12 million in funding to support specialized addiction treatment and prevention efforts throughout the state.”

Not only will these funds be used to increase efforts to aid families with addicts and children with addiction problems, but the state is pushing to remove the stigma from recovering addicts, as well. They’re doing this through educational programs for students, parents and even employers in the hope of increasing hiring of recovered persons.

Alcohol and marijuana use in youths have been tied to an increased risk of addiction later in life. According to NCADD-NJ, “39% of New Jersey’s 7th and 8th graders have used alcohol sometime in their lifetime.” The odds of these students developing an addiction problem is significantly higher than their peers.

Further, according to FindYouthInfo.gov, “by the time [youths] graduate high school, approximately 46% of teens will have tried marijuana at least once.” To counteract these rising odds, New Jersey has specified funding toward programs for addicts who are minors.

Recovery High School


Drug and alcohol addiction in minors has become severe enough across the country that many states now offer recovery high schools. There are a minimum of 35 such schools scattered across the U.S., with anew recovery high school in New Jersey having opened its doors recently.

In New Jersey, attending the Raymond J. Lesniak Recovery High Schoolcosts $30,000 per student. The cost of this is covered in part by the public education system and the rest by donations. There are currently two students in the program.

Twelve-step programs adhere to an abstinence policy when aiding recovering addicts. These high schools create an environment where minors can continue to be children without fear of influence or judgment from their peers back home.

AAC Treatment Center

In March 2015, American Addiction Centers (AAC) announced its purchase of a treatment center in New Jersey for $6.6 million. As part of the acquisition, AAC will also acquire Sunrise House Foundation, which is known for using an effective 12-step program. What makes this program so effective?

Scientific American points out that “what occurs during AA meetings can vary considerably.” Alcoholics Anonymous first began using the 12-step program. The potential downside to the program is that community programs are often community run and the attitude of the group as a whole can affect the determination of an addict negatively or positively.

The Value of Combination Therapy

So while a 12-step program might work really well for one community, it might not be successful in the next. But that’s where therapy and treatment centers can strengthen the 12-step program – they also offer a combination of therapy along with the 12-step program.

There’s also good news for patients with a fear of the doctor’s bill. New federal requirements force health plans and insurance to treat substance use disorders as they would any other chronic health problem. This means that regardless of whether or not a 12-step programs works the first time or not, patients can be sure that health insurance will help them in some way.

Even with countless studies, there is no clear solution to the best form of addiction treatment. In the meantime, our communities are standing up and backing families and friends in need on the road to recovery.