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Substance Abuse Treatment Without Insurance: How to Pay

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Substance abuse is so prevalent in America that it is virtually a pandemic, a dreadful scourge that indiscriminately impacts anyone in its reach, regardless of age, ethnic origin, or socioeconomic bracket. 

For instance, the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), revealed that 1 in 12 American adults — or 18.7 million people — had a substance abuse disorder (SUD), the clinical term for drug addiction. 

Of all the people saddled with a drug or alcohol addiction, a fraction of them will never get the treatment they need.

Former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy issued a report in 2016 stating that 1 in 7 people in the U.S. was expected to develop a SUD in their lifetime, but that only 10 percent will get the treatment they need. 

For countless people, cost remains a principal external barrier to treatment. What’s more, those without private insurance carry the mistaken belief that professional addiction treatment is not within reach. 

Nothing could be further from the truth. Read on to learn about ways to pay for treatment without insurance.

The Cost of Addiction

While expense remains a significant barrier to treatment, a drug or alcohol addiction can exact a far greater toll. 

When addiction takes hold of the brain, it compels a person to use drugs or alcohol despite the harmful consequences that can result. They become so obsessed with chasing and using their substance of choice that it completely takes over their life. In the process, they can experience a loss of employment, deteriorating health, and a loss of personal relationships. 

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), sending someone into treatment is significantly cheaper than jailing them. For example, states NIDA, a full year of methadone maintenance treatment for opioid addiction costs about $4,700 per patient, whereas one full year of imprisonment costs about $24,000 per person. 

What’s more, every dollar invested in addiction treatment programs yields a return of $4 and $7 in reduced drug-related crime, criminal justice costs, and theft, states NIDA. 

“When savings related to healthcare are included, total savings can exceed costs by a ratio of 12 to 1. Major savings to the individual and society also stem from fewer interpersonal conflicts; greater workplace productivity; and fewer drug-related accidents, including overdoses and deaths.”

Those figures do not take into account the forfeiture of relationships that people with addictions often incur — losses that are incalculable yet consequential. 

The Cost of Substance Abuse Treatment

Every person’s addiction recovery journey is different, and the most effective treatment is the kind specifically tailored to address a client’s unique needs. That means treatment costs can vary from person to person and is totally dependent on the slate of services someone requires.

The average monthly cost of treatment is estimated at $3,800. Private residential rehabilitation, which provides clients with room and board along with treatment, will be more expensive than outpatient treatment, which provides services but allows clients to live independently. 

Residential programs can range from $7,500 on the low end to $10,000 to $20,000 a month for a higher quality program. Luxury programs that are frequented by celebrities, executives, and professional athletes can cost anywhere between $80,000 and $120,000 a month, according to Verywell Mind. Evidently, treatment costs can vary wildly and will depend on several factors. 

Those factors include:

  • Treatment program type: Whether it is an inpatient or outpatient treatment program.
  • Duration of treatment: Particularly if it is a long-term residential program, which can last for months.
  • Treatment setting: Are services administered at a private treatment center, hospital, or government-funded clinic?
  • Bells and whistles: This includes the level of amenities provided and whether the services are being administered at a luxury treatment center.
  • Specialized treatment for co-occurring disorders: Is there a mental health issue, such as depression or anxiety, that accompanies substance addiction? If so, that would require a specialized dual diagnosis treatment plan.
  • Level of services provided: This includes the level and amount of recovery services required after rehab. 
  • Treatment that requires medication: This includes medical maintenance therapy for opioid addiction and other medication-assisted treatment services for addictions and co-occurring mental health disorders.  

Treatment Options Without Insurance 

Government-Funded Addiction Treatment

If you have limited funds or no way to pay for treatment, there are government-funded programs that provide treatment that is partially funded or free. These programs typically offer the full continuum of care required for addiction treatment, which includes detoxification, addiction counseling, and outpatient services. 

The detox program provides around-the-clock medical care to treat drug withdrawal symptoms and any other medical issues. After detox, these programs will offer addiction counseling and therapy to address the behavioral, cognitive, and mental health issues wrought by the addiction. In some instances, long-term outpatient treatment and medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is provided.    

Funding for these programs comes from Medicare, Medicaid, the Veterans Administration (VA) Benefits, and the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

People who are typically prioritized for free or reduced-cost treatment include: 

  • Senior, elderly adults, especially those over age 65
  • People with disabilities
  • Military veterans
  • People who have no private insurance
  • People from low-income households

However, there are drawbacks to these kinds of programs. Government-funded rehab services require extensive verification and paperwork, a long list of eligibility requirements, and long waiting lists — hurdles that can prevent people from seeking treatment. Other drawbacks can include a dearth of accommodations, lower facility quality, and fewer staff members.

You can contact your state’s local substance abuse agency for more information on government-funded programs in your area by visiting SAMSHA’s Directory of Single State Agencies (SSA) for Substance Abuse Services


Medicare is a form of government-funded insurance for people age 65 and older. Yet, having Medicare will allow you to be covered for drug and alcohol treatment services. It is one of the most significant government-funded programs in the country, and it serves a population that is particularly vulnerable to substance abuse and addiction. Like other government-funded programs, specific requirements must be met to qualify for it. Medicare-funded substance abuse treatment requires that:  

  • Your primary doctor has established a medical necessity for you to receive treatment.
  • You attended a rehab program that has been Medicare-approved.
  • Your primary doctor established a plan of care that outlines your treatment needs and services.

Medicare also covers treatment at inpatient and outpatient facilities and an array of services like: 

  • Psychoeducation
  • Psychotherapy
  • Aftercare services following hospitalization
  • Medications administered during a hospital stay or doctor’s visit, such as methadone
  • Structured assessment and brief intervention services

The treatment and coverage you are eligible for under Medicare will depend on the plan you have. Medicare Part A covers hospitalization for substance abuse treatment. Medicare Part B covers outpatient treatment services that are offered through a clinic or hospital outpatient department. Part A also covers medications that are used to treat substance use disorders. 

To find out which services you are eligible for under the Medicare program, make sure to contact your plan provider.

12-Step Programs 

Long-standing and established 12-step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) utilize peer support and spirituality to help people remain accountable and vigilant during their recovery. Though they do not offer the full continuum of care, particularly for severe addictions, these free programs can provide some help to those struggling with substance abuse. However, 12-step is more effective when it is used in combination with detox and addiction treatment. For an AA meeting near you, visit this link. For an NA meeting near you, you can visit this link.  

SMART Recovery®

The Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART) is a free program that utilizes cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help people in recovery. SMART participants examine their thoughts and behaviors to make lasting, life-long changes. As is the case with 12-step programs, SMART Recovery® works best when it is administered with detox and treatment services. For more information on a SMART Recovery® meeting near you, visit this site

Private Professional Treatment 

Reputable professional treatment programs that offer the full continuum of care are accessible to you even without insurance. Many private programs can work with you to establish a payment plan or locate financing to cover the cost of treatment. 

Plus, reputable private treatment offers specialized care, low clinician-to-client ratios, and an array of evidence-based and alternative therapies that treat the whole person, not just the addiction. 

The services offered in private professional treatment include:

  • Medically supported maintenance care
  • Individual therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Family counseling
  • Couples counseling
  • Psychologically focused therapy
  • Life-skills classes
  • Yoga and meditation
  • Substance abuse education
  • Cravings and triggers management
  • Life skills
  • Mental health treatment
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • 12-step programs
  • Transitional living facility referrals (including sober living homes)
  • Relapse prevention training
  • Anger management
  • Random drug testing
  • Spirituality 

Get Help Today

Not having insurance does not have to stop you from getting treatment. We can work with you to find the best program option that fits your budget and addresses your needs. 

For a free and confidential consultation with one of our addiction specialists, call 844-208-4761 or contact us online now. Our professionals are available around the clock to help you navigate your treatment options or answer any questions you might have.


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Delphi Behavioral Health Group. (n.d.). Public Drug Treatment Centers | Government-Funded Addiction Treatment. from

Narcotics Anonymous. (n.d.). from

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (n.d.). Is drug addiction treatment worth its cost? from

SAMHSA Releases National Survey on Drug Use and Health. (n.d.). from

SMART Recovery. (n.d.). Addiction Recovery Support. from

Surgeon General Issues Landmark Report on Alcohol, Drugs and Health. (n.d.). from

Treatment for alcoholism and substance use disorder. (n.d.). from

Verywell Mind. (2018, October 31). Where to Find Free Alcohol and Drug Treatment Programs. from

Verywell Mind. (2018, July 01). How Much Does Drug and Alcohol Rehab Cost? from

When You Have No Insurance. (n.d.). from




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