Alcohol and drug addiction is a widespread problem. In 2020, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 14.9% of people aged 12 or older (or 41.1 million people) needed substance use treatment in the past year. Unfortunately, only 1.4% (4 million) of these people received addiction treatment.
There are many reasons why someone with a substance use disorder may not seek professional help, and one of the most significant barriers is the cost of rehabilitation treatment. For example, in 2017, 8.8 percent of people (28.5 million) did not have health insurance.
Without insurance coverage or available funding, it is challenging to understand how someone can afford rehab treatment. Thankfully, low-cost and free rehab centers, as well as grants and scholarships, do exist. We can help you determine what is available and how to obtain the assistance you or a loved one need to start the recovery journey.
Are Free Drug and Alcohol Addiction Treatment Programs Available?
Yes, a variety of organizations offer free substance use treatment programs. The National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services (N-SSATS) 2018 found that 45% of centers provided free or minimal payment treatment for people who could not afford rehab. These treatment programs are often funded by local or national government grants, charity donations, and private endowments. It may also be possible to obtain a scholarship to attend a private treatment center. The majority of free drug and alcohol treatment programs and scholarships are offered only to those that do not have the means to pay for their rehabilitation treatment due to a low income or little or no insurance coverage.
Types of Free Treatment for Addiction Recovery
Free rehabilitation programs are available if you need addiction treatment but have limited resources or no insurance. These treatment programs are available across the US. Therefore, regardless of your personal situation or where you live, you will be able to find help and support.
State-Funded Rehabilitation Centers
State-funded alcohol and drug rehab centers receive money in the form of federal grants from SAMHSA or reimbursement from Medicaid. The funding they receive enables them to offer a sliding fee scale which takes a patient’s ability to pay into account when determining the cost of treatment. Sometimes, treatment may be free if the patients meet the relevant eligibility criteria. The savings made in other areas justify using government funds to pay for addiction treatment. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), every dollar invested in addiction treatment programs yields a return in the areas of reduced drug-related crime, theft and health care.
As well as addiction treatment programs, it is possible to find state-funded sober living homes. These facilities provide substance-free accommodation for people transitioning back to their daily life following addiction treatment.
SAMHSA Block Grants
An example of government funding for rehabilitation is the SAMHSA block grants. These grants fund treatment for individuals without insurance or treatment not covered by Medicaid, Medicare, or private health insurance. SAMHSA is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and offers noncompetitive funding for substance abuse and mental health services.
Many charities and non-profit organizations offer addiction rehab at an affordable cost or, in some cases, for free. In addition, they often campaign for new legislation, advocate for improvements in access to health care, and raise awareness of the challenges faced by those with substance use disorder. Examples of these organizations include:
- The Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center: This international faith-based non-profit organization is dedicated to helping those in society most in need. The Salvation Army has more no-fee rehabilitation facilities than any other program in the U.S.
- Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) and Narcotics Anonymous (N.A.): A.A. and N.A. utilize mentors and self-organized support groups to guide people through The Twelve Steps to addiction recovery. These meetings are usually free, although you may be asked to contribute to operational costs such as room rental and coffee.
- To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA): Since it was founded in 2006, TWLOHA has donated $3 million to treatment and recovery programs to assist those most in need to find help and support for drug and alcohol addiction, depression, and suicidal thoughts.
- Phoenix House: Operating alcohol and drug rehabilitation centers across the U.S., Phoenix House aims to make treatment available to those who need it. In addition to sliding scale payment plans for those who do not have insurance, they also provide therapy to those qualifying for grants and state funding.
- Angels at Risk: A California-based non-profit organization supporting adolescent drug and alcohol abuse awareness and treatment. Focussing on education, it provides a program of free activities for those directly or indirectly affected by substance abuse.
Employee Assistance Programs (EAP)
EAPs are offered by many employers and are designed to assist employees in addressing any issues they may have. They often include alcohol and drug rehab programs run by trained counselors. EAPs are funded by the employer and offered free to employees and sometimes to members of their immediate families.
Veterans Health Care
Veterans Affairs Health Care provides treatment for substance use disorders. Treatment that is related to military service is free.
What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Free Rehab Treatment?
There are, of course, advantages and disadvantages to free alcohol and drug rehab:
Advantages of Free Drug Rehab for Addiction
- Free treatment is available across the U.S., so you will likely find an accredited treatment provider close to you.
- By attending a free rehab program, you will meet people in a similar situation in terms of their drug addiction and life in general. Meeting people with similar resources and issues to you can be an invaluable source of immediate and ongoing comfort and strength.
- Free alcohol and drug rehab treatment programs often include outpatient and inpatient treatment.
- The addiction program on offer may not be as varied as paid treatment but it will still follow evidence-based treatment plans.
- Many people have successfully overcome drug and alcohol addiction through a free rehabilitation program.
- Regardless of whether or not you pay for your treatment, you will still develop the essential skills required to remain sober long-term.
Disadvantages of Free Drug Rehab for Addiction
- Free or low-cost treatment options are in high demand. Treatment centers often operate at full capacity, so there can be a long waiting list.
- Studies have shown that waiting to start rehab treatment increases the risk of drug problems and the chance of overdose.
- The addiction treatment on offer may not be as cutting-edge as those offered in private treatment facilities.
- Group sizes may be larger than private treatment centers meaning less one-on-one attention.
- The facilities are likely to be more basic than those offered at private rehab centers.
Many factors determine the cost of rehabilitation programs. These include the substance you are addicted to, the type of rehab facility, whether it is an inpatient or outpatient program, and the severity and duration of your addiction. Alcohol and drug treatment options include medical detox, which can be expensive as it involves round-the-clock medical supervision, and inpatient and outpatient therapies. If your program involves full-time residential treatment followed by an aftercare program, you may need to take time off work and suffer a loss of income. These sorts of considerations can be taken into account as part of a grant or scholarship application for funding for addiction treatment. Examples of available grants include:
- SAMHSA Individual Grant: As well as offering grants to treatment facilities, SAMHSA also offers grants to individuals who cannot pay for addiction treatment.
- Clinical Trials: Funding is often made available from the National Institute of Drug Abuse and other research bodies to enable studies to be carried out into successful drug and alcohol addiction treatments. An example of such a study is Developing Adaptive Interventions for Cocaine Cessation and Relapse Prevention which has enrolled 160 patients and is funded by the NIDA. More information about clinical trials is available at: www.clinicaltrials.gov.
- Local Treatment Center Scholarships: Once you have established that you or a loved one needs professional treatment, you can contact treatment facilities close to you to enquire about scholarship opportunities. Many addiction treatment centers offer scholarships or heaving discounted therapy to those who cannot afford treatment, providing that they meet a set of eligibility criteria. Even if entirely free treatment is not available or applicable to you, it is still worth enquiring as addiction centers often offer payment assistance programs such as sliding scale payments that are based on what a patient can afford.
- 10000 Beds: Founded in 2014, this non-profit organization works with drug and alcohol rehab centers across the U.S. to provide at least one sponsorship (bed) per year, with many providers offering a lot more. These spaces are then supplied as 100% donated scholarships to qualifying applicants who do not have the resources to pay for addiction treatment.
Resources for Finding Free Drug and Alcohol Addiction Treatment
In addition to the resources listed above, there are national and online resources that you can turn to for help finding free rehabilitation treatment for addiction. Examples include:
- The SAMHSA Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator allows you to search for state-funded rehab centers near you. Alternatively, you can call the free helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
- Single State Agencies (SSAs) for Substance Use Services is an online directory you can use to find the government agencies that deliver rehabilitation programs to those with low incomes or no insurance cover in your state.
- Rehab.com is a trusted resource helping those in need find out more about addiction, available treatment options, and rehabilitation facilities in their local area.
- If you have health insurance, even if it is only a basic policy, it is always worth speaking to your insurance provider to check to see if you are covered for addiction treatment. Under the Affordable Care Act, all insurance policies must cover rehabilitation from addiction (subject to some exceptions).
- Your doctor is a valuable source of local information. They will be able to put you in touch with support groups and professionals in your area that work in addiction recovery.
- Religious organizations often offer addiction treatment; therefore, your faith leader is an excellent person to consult to find out what is available in your community.
The cost of treatment doesn’t have to be a barrier to getting the help you need to recover from drug and alcohol addiction. Free drug rehabilitation programs, grants, scholarships, and payment options are available. Take the first step toward finding out what is available today by exploring the opportunities within this article. Rehab.com is committed to providing trustworthy advice and information so everyone can access life-saving addiction treatment programs and a brighter future.
Start the Path to Recovery
- Speak with a rehab specialist
- Enroll in a treatment center of your choice
- Receive guidance on financial aid and insurance coverage