There’s no denying the fact that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has flared tempers on both sides of the debate, but there may be a silver lining for those in need of—but struggling to pay for—addiction related treatment. With the ACA’s classification of alcoholism/drug addiction as a chronic disease, over 40 million Americans may be eligible to enroll in a rehabilitation program.

“I don’t think there’s another illness that will be more affected by the Affordable Care Act,” says Dr. Thomas McLellan, the former deputy of the National Drug Control Policy.

rehab treatment

As part of the ACA initiative, over $15 billion has been allocated in an alcohol and drug prevention fund. This is only a fraction of the $420 billion a year costs attributed to health care, criminal justice and lost productivity as a result of untreated addictions.

Provisions within the Affordable Care Act require at least 60 percent of treatment costs to be covered by insurance. Currently, only 11% of addicts requiring treatment can afford a specialty program due to the exorbitant costs so proponents argue that it’ll be greatly beneficial for those who are in a tight spot, financially speaking.

In addition to offering treatment for millions of Americans, the Affordable Care Act will expand the public health workforce. The Office of National Drug Control Policy states,

“The ACA increases the number of people who will be eligible for health care under Medicaid in 2014, some of whom may need intervention and treatment services for substance use disorders. To fill this service gap, training from medical and non-medical professionals currently working in the field, as well as new groups of behavioral health specialists to fill new jobs is needed.”

Community Health Centers

On January 31, the U.S Department of Health and Human Services allocated $50 million to expand and create new community health programs aimed at combating addiction and mental illness.

Sal Raichbach, a Clinical Director for Ambrosia with years of experience treating addiction, agrees that attitudes have changed in Washington regarding rehabilitation, insurance and the theme of mental illness.

“In the past, drug and alcohol addiction were viewed as personal issues that should be handled by the individual with the substance abuse problem. Studies have shown that drug rehab and alcohol rehab can effectively treat these conditions and help save lives.”

Mental health professionals and addiction counselors on both ends of the spectrum agree that Americans as whole need access to more affordable treatment programs which don’t compromising quality in the process. Proper guidance and education are keys to overcoming any addiction, whether it’s alcohol, drugs or a combination of both.

If you or someone you know is struggling with sobriety it’s crucial to seek the help of a professional immediately. In extreme cases, an intervention may be necessary to make them realize the severity of their condition. Otherwise, out-patient programs are readily available across the country for those who can’t commit to an intensive in-patient facility.

Photo Credit By: