Four Ways to Pay for Sober Living
Paying rent for a sober living home can be a significant issue. Like the cost of drug rehab, the bill for sober living can have a major impact on which sober living home will be a good fit. The goal is to strike a balance between affordability, level of care, and the in-person experience and environment.
If your family is like most others in the process of coming back after an addiction, money is most certainly an issue. Paying for sober living, especially after paying for drug rehab, can be a financial hardship, but with some creative organization and perseverance, this cost of this critical piece of recovery can be covered with relative ease.
1. Health Insurance
Substance abuse treatment is classified as an “essential service” under the Affordable Care Act, and as such, preventative efforts as well as treatment for the disorder must be covered by approved providers as a general rule. The reality is that what providers will easily pay for is less clear-cut, and many families have struggled with insurance companies who push for the least expensive treatment option and require elusive proof of “medical need” when agreeing to more intensive measures of care. It can be an arduous task.
For this reason, when it comes to getting the cost of sober living covered by insurance, there may or may not be support. The final dollar amount (or percentage) of costs covered for sober living will vary widely from provider to provider, and in some cases, it may not be covered at all unless it can be shown that there is “medical need.”
No matter what your financial circumstances, your first step is always to determine how much your insurance company will cover. This is a medical need, and your family should have some amount of coverage. You can:
- Contact your insurance provider directly and get a better of idea of what they will cover and what they will not.
- Talk to the administrative staff members at the sober living home to see if they can offer any advice or assist you.
- Discuss the issue with your family doctor to see if you can get help with the proof of medical need, if requested.
- Follow up as needed and ask for clarification.
2. Family Resources
The next step to covering the cost of sober living services is to take a solid look at your family finances. You may be able to quickly tap funds that may have been allocated for another purpose (e.g., college savings or retirement) for a bit of assistance if that is appropriate to your situation. You may also look around and realize that you have some sellable assets that, if liquidated, may help you to pay the bill as well – recreational vehicles, old exercise equipment, old baby equipment, etc. Similarly, if you have a high-end item that you can sell and replace with a lower-cost version, and use the extra money to put into your sober living fund, this may be an option – for example, selling a high-end vehicle for a less expensive used car and then putting the difference toward sober living costs.
You may also:
- Talk to family members about taking out a loan that can be repaid in full over time.
- Create a family budget and cut out all unnecessary expenses to keep more cash in hand at the end of the month.
- Take action to minimize expenses (e.g., avoid going to restaurants, cancel a vacation, etc.) to improve cash flow.
- Take on a second job or extra overtime hours for a brief time with the goal of putting the money toward paying for the cost of sober living.
3. Payment as a Recovery Goal
In many cases, an individual can work with family members to create an agreement in which the person in residence at the sober living program will work and give some agreed-upon portion of the earnings back to the family members in order to reimburse them for the costs of sober living. This kind of an agreement can:
- Help to provide the person living at the home with a way to ease any guilt they may feel about the burden placed on the family
- Increase the individual’s sense of autonomy and demonstrate that it is possible to take care of oneself after addiction
- Ease financial strain on family members who may still be paying for the cost of drug rehab
- Help both the individual in residence at the sober living program and family members to feel as if they are working together rather than against one another to get their needs met
If, after all resources have been tapped, there is still not enough to cover the cost of sober living, financing is always an option for the remainder of the bill. There are a number of private institutions that offer personal loans in different formats with various repayment structures; with a little bit of research, it is possible to find one that best suits your family’s needs. Though it is an option to finance the entire amount, most families prefer to minimize their bills and pay as much up front as possible and then finance as small an amount as possible.
Weighing Cost with Care Options
In most cases, the more intensive the level of support provided by a sober living program, the more expensive it will be. That is, when staff members – one or more – are on site at all times, facilitating house meetings, helping to manage conflicts that arise, and enforcing rules, the bill will likely be higher than a sober living home that provides minimal staff support and is relatively lax in terms of therapeutic expectations. This is most often a case where you “get what you pay for.” Choosing the least expensive option without consideration for other factors provided can ultimately be a waste of money if it doesn’t provide the necessary level of support. It is a far better choice to choose the program that provides the type of attention and atmosphere that will most benefit the person in residence.