There are millions of people living in the United States who meet the criteria for a substance use disorder and are in need of treatment. Unfortunately, only a small fraction of them actually receive it.
Cost often plays a significant role in keeping people from getting help for substance abuse and addiction.
However, money doesn’t have to be the barrier that blocks your access to potentially life-saving treatment. A lack of funds can make figuring out how to make addiction treatment feasible feel overwhelming, and recovery seems out of reach. But there are many ways to help make paying for treatment more manageable, even if you do not have insurance.
Getting an estimate of how much addiction treatment will potentially cost is a helpful first step in figuring out the best options to defray that cost. While many people may have some idea of how treatment correlates to cost, they still may not realize how different kinds of treatments and therapies can affect both the coverage of substance abuse treatment and the price.
Everyone’s experience with addiction is unique, and therefore everyone’s addiction treatment needs are also going to be unique.
Things like the severity of someone’s addiction, if they have a serious medical condition that requires intensive care, as well as whether or not they have a co-occurring disorder that would require dual diagnosis treatment can all affect the potential cost of treatment.
Other factors that can affect the cost of addiction treatment include:
Outpatient treatment’s less intensive level of care is more likely to be fully covered by insurance and generally costs much less than inpatient or residential treatment. However, if someone has a history of addiction and relapse, for example, an outpatient program may not provide enough support for them to recover successfully.
Treatment centers that offer specialized therapies, including trauma therapy, family therapy, or alternative holistic therapies will also likely be more expensive. This is sometimes the case with specialized facilities specifically aimed to accommodate people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or those looking for Christian-centered treatment, LGBTQ+ substance abuse treatment, and other distinct groups.
The two factors that play perhaps the most significant role in determining cost are the length of time spent in treatment and whether or not someone attends treatment at a private facility.
The amount of time in treatment that will be covered by insurance is going to vary from one policy to another, and it is also partially dependent on the type of addiction treatment.
However, cost should not dictate how long someone spends in a treatment program, as research from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has shown that the longer someone remains in recovery, the higher their chances are of maintaining sobriety post-treatment.
According to NIDA, 90 days is the minimum length for effective treatment, and that less time than that comes with a significantly increased chance of relapse, which would just mean more time spent in addiction treatment anyway.
Similarly, an addiction recovery treatment program at a private center is almost always going to cost more than a hospital or other publicly funded facility and is less likely to be fully covered by an insurance plan. However, it also will usually be much better equipped to provide a wider range of specialized treatment options.
A privately funded addiction treatment center also will have a higher level of both individualized care and personal amenities. And while the amenities provided may not seem particularly important, it makes sense that someone undergoing recovery treatment will want to be as comfortable as possible, especially in the case of long-term residential treatment, which can often last between six months to a year.
It’s important to know that the methods of payment for substance abuse and addiction treatment extend beyond private insurance plans. There are public insurance plans available through the Affordable Care Act, which recognizes addiction as a chronic disease and, therefore, covers addiction treatment. Medicaid and Medicare are also options, although their coverage levels will vary from state to state. For veterans, the cost of addiction treatment is usually fully covered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
If you decide to seek out treatment at a state or federally funded facility, you may be eligible for payment assistance.
Generally, to be eligible for treatment assistance, you will need to present the following information:
There will most likely be other requirements as well, although this will vary from state-to-state, as will the amount of assistance provided. However, it can still make a significant difference in financing your addiction treatment. To help save some time and effort, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) maintains adirectory of the different agencies that handle these services for each state.
Outside of these means, other possible options for financing addiction treatment include:
People are often surprised to learn that many private treatment centers will work with them to help create a customized plan for payment or financing. This way, instead of trying to pay for treatment all at once in a lump sum, it’s broken down into structured installments over a period that fits within your budget.
In other cases, some private facilities will offer a sliding scale of treatment costs based on income level and what you can afford. If you do not have insurance, this can make financing addiction treatment a much more feasible, realistic option. Even if you do have insurance, this can also help bridge a potential gap between what your policy covers and what you may have to pay for out-of-pocket.
Loans, while not always someone’s ideal option, are still a practical way to get into treatment quickly and will allow for smaller payments over time. People who choose to take out a loan to pay for addiction treatment will often choose a home equity loan, which, because it uses your home as collateral, has a lower interest rate than other loan types and is more likely to be provided by a bank than a standard loan.
However, a loan also doesn’t need to come from a bank. Although it can feel very difficult to do, it may be preferable to ask friends or family members for help financing addiction treatment in the form of a loan. Admittedly, they might be reluctant to do so, but one thing that can help persuade them to help is to have them pay the money directly to the treatment center, so there will be no doubt that the money is being used for treatment only. Once they understand that you are doing everything possible to try and recover, it’s likely that the people who care about you the most will want you to recover and be willing to help make it possible.
Selling your personal belongings can feel like a drastic option and be hard to follow through on, but it does provide a means to pay for treatment that doesn’t involve taking out a loan or accruing any potential debt. All possessions, from jewelry to TVs to cars, can eventually be replaced, but your life cannot.
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If you or someone you care about is struggling with an addiction to alcohol or drugs, no cost is too high when it comes to getting treatment that could save their life. There are always options available for payment, so don’t wait to take action, because addiction won’t.
At Family Recovery Specialists, our comprehensive, individualized approach to substance abuse and addiction treatment can help you or your loved one get out from under the weight of addiction and onto the path to lasting recovery.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018, January). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/frequently-asked-questions/how-long-does-drug-addiction-treatment
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2016, December 1). Directory of Single State Agencies (SSA) for Substance Abuse Services from https://www.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/ssadirectory.pdf
U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. (2010, May 24). Treatment Programs for Substance Use Problems. from https://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/res-vatreatmentprograms.asp