Drug rehab on the cheap-er

Dear Alice,

If you have little resources (i.e., money) left, can you get some help in drug rehabilitation centers?

Dear Reader, 

First off, kudos to you for seeking more information about substance use treatment. While it may be more difficult for a person to access drug rehabilitation centers with a limited budget, there are still several options available for them to utilize. 

There are drug treatment facilities that are funded by state and federal agencies. Many of these facilities offer treatment to individuals for either a very low cost or even free-of-charge at times. Also, these facilities often participate in Medicare and Medicaid programs, which can lower the cost of the treatment for individuals who are eligible. Furthermore, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires that policies sold through the program, such as state insurance exchanges or Medicaid, provide some sort of coverage for drug treatment and rehabilitation.  

In order to be accepted into a state-funded program, individuals often must meet specific requirements. While these requirements vary state by state, they may ask for: 

  • Proof of residence in the funding state 
  • Demonstrated inability to afford other treatment (e.g., low or no income, lack of insurance, etc.) 
  • Proof of citizenship or legal residence in the US 
  • Information about the degree or level of addiction and history 

Adapted from American Addiction Centers

If you’re looking for one for yourself or a loved one, you can check out the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator. It can help locate services nearby. You can contact facilities directly to find out specific information about payment options. 

Another option available to individuals with a limited budget is clinical trials. Clinical trials often look into new counseling or medication treatment approaches for substance use and misuse. While these treatments are often still in the investigational phases, they’re often free for qualified participants. To locate a clinical trial, visit the National Institute on Drug Abuse's Clinical Trials Network

Also, although you didn't mention insurance, it's key to note that many insurance companies provide some sort of drug treatment due to the ACA. However, there's wide variation in the amount and type of coverage that a person can have. Specific coverage for a given individual could depend on factors such as the state in which the insurance was purchased, as well as which health care plan was selected. For someone who is privately insured, a good bet could be to check with the insurer to figure out specific benefits. 

There are places to turn for drug rehabilitation, even when the pockets are empty, but it might take some searching to find the best fit. You might try speaking with a trusted friend, religious leader, case worker, or health care provider for referrals to treatment programs and further support. Also, given that there will likely be paperwork to fill out and phone calls to make and return, it may be helpful to request the help of family or friends during this trying process. 

Best of luck, 

Last updated Sep 10, 2021
Originally published Jan 05, 2007

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