The cost of opioid treatment varies a great deal; treatment centers we visited were reluctant to give precise numbers, saying they provide sliding scales depending on insurance reimbursement and the ability of a patient to pay.

However, cost estimates prepared by the federal government in 2016 found that methadone treatment, including medication with daily counseling, costs about $6,500 per year; Suboxone treatment with twice-weekly visits is $6,000 per year; and naltrexone treatment is $14,000 per year.

By comparison, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, annual expenditures for patients with diabetes are $3,600 and for those with kidney disease, $5,600.

A study that appeared in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment in 2008 used data collected from 110 substance abuse treatment programs to provide more detail. The costs below, in 2017 dollars, are based on the average number of weeks the treatment lasted, shown in parentheses.

Screening and brief intervention: $494
Methadone maintenance: $8,996 (87)
Non-methadone outpatient: $2,823 (18)
Intensive outpatient: $5,186 (12)
Adolescent outpatient: $3,587 (12)
Drug court: $4,786 (46)
Adult residential: $12,419 (13)
Adolescent residential: $12,919 (8)
Halfway house: $25,989 (33)

Behind The Story

Type: Investigative / Enterprise

Investigative / Enterprise: In-depth examination of a single subject requiring extensive research and resources.

Articles attributed to "staff" are written by the editor or a senior editor. This is typically because they are brief items based on a single source, such as a press release, or there are multiple contributors, such as a collection of photos.