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Affording Drug Rehab

The costs of drug rehab programs vary greatly depending on the type of care you are seeking and any insurance coverage you might able to use. Many rehab programs are privately operated, but they accept insurance plans to cover some of their costs. Other rehab programs are funded by state and federal programs, such as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and they provide treatment at a very low cost or even at no cost to qualifying individuals.

What Does Rehab Cost?

So, what kind of numbers are you looking at? The average monthly costs of all rehab programs across the country are just under $4,000 per month. This number considers both free programs on one end of the spectrum and luxury programs on the other, with costs varying greatly in between.

Government-funded programs that are designed to serve specific populations, such as veterans and their families, are often offered care at no cost or for a very low fee. Community clinics also offer low-cost programs to treat substance misuse disorders, such as alcohol and opioid dependency. 

Private residential rehab programs, on the other hand, usually cost around $7,500 for your average program. Higher quality programs can cost $10,000 to $20,000 per month, while luxury programs with fancy amenities and luxury accommodations can cost as much as $80,000 to $120,000 per month.

As you can see, treatment costs are all over the board. Residential programs are the most expensive, as they provide around-the-clock care and your highest levels of support. Outpatient programs are less expensive because they provide treatment services but no housing. The length of treatment also impacts how much your program will cost, as do the types of services you require.

While the costs of attending rehab can be shocking and prevent many people from seeking treatment, don’t let them stop you. You have many options for how to pay for your treatment program. 

How Do People Afford It?

When it comes to paying for addiction treatment, you have options. Depending on your financial situation, you can pay out-of-pocket, use your health insurance, or use Medicare, if you qualify and have it. Most treatment programs are experienced with helping clients decipher their insurance coverage or make plans for how they will pay for treatment themselves.

When you consider how you are going to afford treatment, what you should be asking yourself is how can you afford not to get help. Researchers have compared the costs of attending drug rehab with the costs of not going to treatment and thus not getting sober.

Researchers in California collected data from more than 2,500 people in drug treatment programs in 2000. On average, the programs they were attending cost about $1,600. Attending rehab saved them, however, more than $11,000 worth of costs associated with substance abuse, such as crime, drug use, illness, and missing work. In addition to the direct dollar amount people were saving by attending rehab, they also experienced a direct impact on their health and quality of life. For every $1 spent on drug rehab, about $7 were saved on expenses related to substance use. 

Undeniably, the costs of attending addiction treatment programs are high, but the costs of not attending treatment could be much higher. If you don’t have insurance or Medicare to help cover treatment costs, you might have luck searching for government-funded programs. These programs receive reimbursement from the government for each person’s care they provide. 

While government programs may be more restricted regarding the resources they can offer, they are high-quality programs run by licensed professionals. The catch is that they often have waiting lists, sometimes for up to six months, because so many people are looking for affordable treatment options. If you can get yourself into a government program, it is a great way to get you on your path to recovery.

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Paying Privately for Treatment

people in treatment

Paying privately for treatment is the most expensive route for individuals to go, but it offers you the greatest flexibility in selecting a rehab program that is best for you. Many families choose to pay for treatment privately, so they aren’t restricted by requirements imposed by insurance, as they want to receive the best care possible for their loved one who is struggling with addiction. 

When you pay privately for addiction treatment, you do not necessarily have to pay all of the costs initially. Many programs, including private and government-sponsored ones, work with families to establish payment plans or find financing to cover the costs. Paying privately means you will have a lot of out-of-pocket expenses, but you will also have the luxury of picking which facility you want to attend.

Insurance Coverage for Drug Rehab

Nearly all major insurance providers provide coverage to attend substance abuse treatment. Health insurance companies like Aetna, Cigna, and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, among others, all include behavioral health services in their plans. Most likely, not all of the costs of rehab will be covered, but a significant portion should be. 

Addiction treatment services that are typically covered by health insurance include:

  • Detoxification
  • Inpatient treatment
  • Residential programs
  • Outpatient treatment
  • Psychological services
  • Maintenance medication

You will get the most coverage for these services if you select programs and facilities that are within your insurance provider’s network. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), there are more than 14,500 substance abuse treatment facilities across the country. This sounds like a lot of facilities to choose from, but your insurance plan will not cover all of them. 

To make sure you find a program that is covered by your insurance, you need to confirm the specifics of your plan. You can do this in a few ways. You can visit the website of your insurance provider and log into your member profile, which most companies provide at no extra cost. Through your member profile, you can view the details and coverage of your current plan, find new doctors or treatment facilities that are within your network, and purchase supplemental insurance plans, if needed. 

If the online platform is too confusing, you can also call customer service to help you review your insurance plan and coverage. Helpful phone numbers are usually listed on the back of your insurance card. If you’ve lost or misplaced your card, you can find customer service numbers on your health insurance provider’s website.

Another option for verifying insurance coverage is to work with the staff of treatment programs you are interested in attending. Most treatment programs, private and public, are equipped to work with insurance companies to cover the costs of treatment.

Staff members can walk you through the insurance verification process. Depending on the level of service available, they may even be able to contact your insurance company for you directly. 

Using Medicare to Pay for Treatment

If you have Medicare for health insurance, your treatment for alcohol and/or substance abuse problems will be covered. Specific requirements must be met to receive such coverage, but treatment is available. Prerequisites that must be met to receive Medicare-covered substance abuse treatment include:

  • 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 outlining your treatment needs and services.

Medicare covers the costs of treatment in both inpatient and outpatient facilities. A wide range of treatment services is also covered through Medicare plans. These services include the following:

  • 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

Like all insurance providers, specific treatment and service coverage depend on which plan you have purchased. Medicare Part A, for example, covers hospitalization for substance abuse treatment. Medicare Part B, on the other hand, covers outpatient treatment services that are being administered through a clinic or hospital outpatient department. Medications used to treat substance use disorders are typically not covered by Part B or Part D, but Part A covers them.

If you have Medicare, be sure to consult your specific plan to figure out which services are covered for you. 

The Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, that was passed in 2010 has helped to increase the accessibility of affordable substance abuse treatment options. The act requires health insurance providers to cover a certain set of basic health services at affordable prices. Since the passage of the ACA, many insurance companies have added behavioral health services, which include services such as counseling and substance abuse treatment to their standard set of covered services. 

The Affordable Care Act does not impact people who are trying to pay for drug rehab privately, but it does make a difference for people using insurance or Medicare to cover treatment costs. Currently, nearly all insurance providers and Medicare plans cover at least partial costs for rehab programs. By requiring insurance plans to provide such coverage, the ACA also increases access to drug rehab and encourages the use of such programs. 

Which Payment Method Should You Use?

Selecting a payment method to use is a personal decision that depends on your unique set of circumstances. Your financial situation, the severity of the problem, the urgency of treatment, and your social support system will all affect what type of treatment program you need and thus how you are going to pay for it. 

While attending rehab is a personal decision, you aren’t alone in figuring out how to pay for it. NIDA explains that a significant portion of drug treatment costs is covered by local, state, and federal governments because of the effects of drug abuse on public health. Health insurance also provides significant support in paying for drug rehab, though you may feel more limited in your options.

Deciding how to pay for treatment is a personal decision. Whatever resources you have available to you, be sure to use them to get the addiction treatment services you deserve. 


Affordable Care Act. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Retrieved November 2018 from 

(February 2006). Benefit-Cost in the California Treatment Outcome Project: Does Substance Abuse Treatment “Pay for Itself”? Health Services Research. Retrieved November 2018 from 

(January 2018). Drug Addiction Treatment in the United States. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved November 2018 from 

(April 2009). How to Pay for Addiction Treatment. Everyday Health. Retrieved November 2018 from 

(July 2018). The Costs of Alcohol and Drug Treatment. Verywell Mind. Retrieved November 2018 from 

Treatment for Alcoholism and Substance Abuse. Medicare. Retrieved November 2018 from 




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