Regardless of the drug substance an individual is abusing or addicted to, rehabilitation treatment has one basic goal: to restore the individual to the ability to live a happy, healthy and productive life by addressing and resolving all of the causes and effects of their drug use. For many individuals, especially those who are dealing with addictions to powerful drug substances like heroin, rehabilitation treatment is the only way they can achieve and maintain full and lasting recovery. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, more than twenty-three million Americans suffer from drug abuse and addiction problems and need rehabilitation treatment, but only about two and a half million receive the rehabilitation treatment they need. So what happens when they these individuals recognize that they have a problem and they need help, but are refused admittance to rehabilitation treatment facilities?
Heroin Treatment Problems
Heroin is a powerful opiate drug substance that can suppress an individual’s perception of pain and give them a highly desirable feeling of euphoria. Many individuals start on the road to heroin abuse and addiction through the use of prescription painkillers–substances that they eventually become tolerant of. Their tolerance drives them to look for a less expensive, more intense and longer-lasting high, and heroin is often the solution. Unfortunately, individuals can quickly lose control of their health and lives as a result of heroin use, abuse and addiction, and while they may recognize that the source of their problems is heroin, they often discover that resolving heroin abuse and addiction is far easier said than done. The problem is that rehabilitation treatment facilities are packed with patients, treatment for heroin abuse and addiction is enormously expensive, and many health insurance companies refuse to pay for inpatient rehab simply because they don’t recognize how dangerous heroin withdrawal and recovery can be for the addicted individual.
Medical professionals may argue that heroin withdrawal does not kill an individual in the same way that alcohol or benzodiazepine withdrawal can, but the fact is that the individual himself can feel like heroin withdrawal is killing him. They may feel like their bones are actually breaking, they have uncontrollable chills and shakes and no control over body fluids, and this is enough to drive them back into heroin use. Even where an individual successfully makes it through the withdrawal phase, they may be confused by the fact that this alone does not guarantee them a better or happier future, and the same life environments, routines and triggers cause them to relapse back into heroin use. And while withdrawals may not kill them, continued heroin abuse or addiction very well can.
In order to aid an individual in the successful and permanent recovery from heroin abuse or addiction, rehabilitation treatment must continue for long enough to help them not only withdraw from the drug, but also establish the new skills, patterns and routines they need in order to live a drug-free future. However, most insurance companies refuse to pay for inpatient heroin detoxification or rehabilitation treatment simply because it is widely known and accepted that heroin withdrawal itself is not deadly. They may claim that the heroin addict doesn’t meet basic criteria for medical necessity of inpatient treatment, or they may demand that the addict first try and fail with outpatient treatment–which can be tantamount to a death sentence for some. Even those individuals who receive coverage for rehabilitation treatment often don’t receive the treatment they need. Many insurance policies claim to cover a maximum of thirty days in a residential treatment center, but few actually pay for longer than eleven to fourteen days of treatment. The result is that facilities are discharging patients before they have completed their treatment program. In some cases, family members are forced to go into deep debt in order to continue covering the cost of treatment, which can be as little as five thousand dollars or as great as thirty thousand dollars for thirty days, so that their loved one has an actual chance at full and lasting recovery.
Many states are attempting to introduce laws that force health insurance companies to pay for substance abuse treatment when the individual has received a doctor referral for said treatment. In effect, these states are attempting to help save lives by giving heroin addicts a way to receive the exact type and length of treatment they need in order to overcome their drug problems and take back control of their lives.