The cost of addiction treatment is a real barrier for the thousands of people who need it. Many will pass it up because they feel they can’t afford it. That’s a lot of people who are not taking care of a medical need that costs them and the government a great deal of money in the long run.

The 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reported that more than 27 million people in the U.S. revealed that they were currently using or misusing illicit drugs or prescription drugs. It found that an estimated 19.3 million people age 12 and older who were classified as needing substance use treatment did not receive it at a specialty facility in 2015.

And, in general, the number of people who receive treatment versus those who don’t is pretty small. It is estimated that only about 10 percent of people with a substance use disorder ever receive any type of special treatment.

Despite the expenses that accompany the decision to get professional help for addiction, the truth is people can’t afford to pass up substance addiction treatment. The longer they stay in active addiction, the more they are putting their lives in danger and increasing their chances of having an overdose.

Addiction also takes its toll on the nation. Abuse of substances such as tobacco, alcohol, and illegal drugs costs the U.S. billions of dollars ($740 billion annually), according to data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). These costs are related to crime, lost work productivity, and healthcare.

The agency also shares, “According to several conservative estimates, every dollar invested in addiction treatment programs yields a return between $4 and $7 in reduced drug-related crime, criminal justice costs, and theft. When savings related to health care 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.”

Publicly Funded Drug Treatment is an Option

While addiction is not deemed curable, NIDA says it is treatable. So, what can people who can’t afford drug or alcohol treatment at a private facility do? They can seek out recovery programs at a government-funded or state-funded drug treatment facility. But, why are there government-funded treatment centers? NIDA explains, “Because drug abuse and addiction are major public health problems, a large portion of drug treatment is funded by local, State, and Federal governments.”

These rehabilitation centers are either funded by the state or county, and they are either partially funded or fully funded. Funding for these centers comes from Medicare, Medicaid, the Veterans Administration (VA) Benefits, and the Affordable Care Act, known as ACA and Obamacare.

What's Eligible for Government-Funded Addiction Treatment?

Populations who are given high priority and qualify for reduced cost or free treatment vary across centers in different states. In general, however, people who typically are eligible for a state-funded treatment center are:

  •  Senior, elderly adults
  •  People who have disabilities
  •  People who have no private insurance
  •  People from low-income households

State-funded insurance centers typically require interested applicants to provide official documentation that they live in the state and that they have legal residence in the United States. They also need to show documents proving that they don’t have insurance or income to pay for treatment. They will also need to prove that they have addiction status and need intervention services. Each state has its own requirements, so be sure to research and meet any additional requirements when applying to programs at these centers.

Insurance policies that can be used at publicly-funded rehabs are:


This health insurance offered to senior adults age 65 and older, is accepted at centers that are publicly funded.


People who are from households with low income and people who have disabilities may qualify for Medicaid.

What Kinds of Services Do Government-Funded Facilities Offer?

These facilities typically offer treatment programs that cover the full continuum of addiction services in drug and alcohol rehabilitation. These include:

Medical Detoxification Services For Substance Withdrawal

Medical detox is the very first stage of addiction recovery. It is preferred over quitting a substance abruptly or “cold turkey,” and it keeps clients safe as toxic substances are removed from the body.

Another aim of the process is to help people manage the withdrawal symptoms that happen when drug use is stopped.

Medical detox alone is not enough to help people overcome their substance use disorder or addiction.

Addiction counseling services for behavioral, mental health issues

Addiction counseling and therapy help people get an in-depth look at their addiction to understand the thoughts, beliefs, behaviors, and actions as well as the psychological and social effects that contribute to their substance use disorder and mental health disorder (such as anxiety, depression), if applicable.

Long-Term Outpatient Treatment

Some centers offer this treatment option. An outpatient treatment program gives recovering substance users more flexibility as they focus on addressing their addiction and making the transition to sobriety. Outpatient clients typically live at home and tend to their daily responsibilities but are required to attend intensive therapy for a mandated set number of hours every week. These programs are cheaper than inpatient or residential treatment because clients are not required to live on-site at the treatment facility.

Factors That Affect the Cost of Treatment Programs

There are more than 14,000 specialized drug treatment centers in the United States that provide services to people with substance use disorders, according to NIDA. Among these offerings are counseling, behavioral therapy, medication, case management, and other types of services. With so many centers available,  treatment costs vary across treatment facilities. Here are some factors that influence the costs of services:

  •  Facility location (cost could be affected by higher cost of living)
  •  Length of the treatment program
  •  Staff-to-client ratio
  •  Whether the client is receiving inpatient or outpatient treatment
  •  Medications
  •  Amenities

At a very basic level of understanding, inpatient and residential centers cost more than outpatient centers. That’s because outpatient does not involve room and board. Also, in general, publicly funded drug treatment centers cost less than private centers. The more amenities that are offered, the more treatment at the facility will cost. Examples of some of those amenities include private rooms, holistic therapies, such as acupuncture, massage, and yoga among many others, lush gardens, exercise rooms, and much more.

There are differences between receiving addiction treatment at a publicly funded drug treatment center versus a private center. The aim is the same regardless of the one clients attend: to end drug use and get recovering users back to a state of health and wellness so they can continue with their lives without addiction. However, it is important to have a realistic view of what to expect.

Benefits of Publicly Funded Treatment

Lower costs

Services are generally cheaper than they are at a private facility. They are typically provided on a sliding scale system or the treatment center is free. A sliding scale system adjusts the cost of treatment based on the income of the person receiving it to make it affordable.

Professional, knowledgeable staff

Treatment centers that are publicly funded employ qualified addiction counselors and medical staff that can help users recover from substance abuse. Clients can expect to receive quality care from professionals who work at centers that provide government assistance.

Closely monitored

Government-funded treatment centers are closely watched and are regularly evaluated to make sure they operate properly and successfully.

Things to Take into Consideration

Longer waiting lists

Government-funded programs tend to be booked, sometimes for weeks or months. However, it’s better to sign up for the waitlist than to let the opportunity to receive treatment pass you by. If the situation is serious and immediate treatment is needed, putting one’s name on the waiting list won’t be particularly ideal. Time is important in addiction recovery. People who need it must enter as soon as possible. It’s worth looking into more than one place at the same time to have a better chance of getting in if a spot opens up.

Facility quality

Basic accommodations are provided, but extras, which may be regarded as non-essential, are considered amenities, and they are not the focus of these programs. The basics are provided while private facilities aim to offer clients more of the comforts of home as they receive treatment.

Fewer accommodations

People who receive treatment at publicly-funded addiction treatment centers commonly share rooms with several other people because of budget limitations. Privacy comes at a premium but at a private facility. A lack of privacy is possible at a state-funded treatment center.

Fewer staff members

High client-to-staff ratios might make some clients feel like they are not getting the individualized and personalized care they need. With so many people receiving treatment in one place at the same time, it’s easy to feel like just another number.

How to Find a Publicly Funded Drug Treatment Center

To find a state-funded treatment center in your state or the state where you or your loved one would like to receive treatment, the Substance Abuse and Health Services Administration offers the Directory of Single State Agencies (SSAs) for Substance Abuse Services that can help you get your search started.

People interested in these programs can also call the mental health or substance abuse agency in their area for information. A primary care physician is also a source of information on free or reduced-cost treatment programs. Medical professionals at free clinics also have information about substance abuse treatment programs. Hospitals or medical centers that provide medical detoxification services may also be of help.

Are You Struggling to End Substance Addiction?

If you or a loved one is considering entering a government-funded program, consider the pros and cons of a public facility versus a private one. Whichever one you decide to go with, remember that it is most important that you or your loved one gets the best care you can to ensure your recovery needs are met. If you think you would be interested in learning more about the benefits of personalized treatment at a private facility, call Delphi Behavioral Health Group today at 844-605-0706 to explore your options.

Treatment programs at Delphi Behavioral Health Group’s facilities provide unique therapy and counseling methods for certain addictions. They are designed to allow you to receive the daily support of the facility’s staff and your loved ones when you return home. Our treatment centers provide just what’s needed for community, counseling, and support throughout the day so clients can apply the lessons they learn to their lives everyday life. Give us a call to discuss your or your loved one’s options today.

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