Special Reports

How one Los Angeles-area treatment facility works

Recovering methamphetamine addicts at River Community, a residential treatment facility in Los Angeles County, attend counseling sessions, meet with doctors and hold down jobs.

A typical client stay is about 90 days at the facility in Azusa. After that, they transition into intensive outpatient care.

For those with severe addictions, the first couple of months of treatment are critical in assessing needs and connecting clients with viable treatment methods, said Mike Schaub of the nonprofit Social Model Recovery Systems, based in Southern California.

But the high cost of such treatment, generally offered by private providers, makes it unavailable to most people.

At River Community, a typical rate is $225 a day --a cost few can afford. For low-income clients needing services, the organization contracts with the county to provide a specific number of subsidized beds.

According to Schaub, the operating cost of a 36-bed facility averages about $2.2 million a year.

"A county can purchase a certain number of beds using Social Security and Medi-Cal to help subsidize the cost and help support the people in the county that need those services," he said.

The remaining treatment beds are paid for by clients with private insurance.

"If we didn't have private money coming into our programs," he said, "we wouldn't be able to keep the doors open."