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How to Pay for Rehab

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Treatment for Three Decades and Counting

If you or a loved one is experiencing addiction, we’re here to help.

Paying for addiction treatment is a common barrier for those needing to go to rehab. Of the 81,000 participants surveyed who needed treatment but did not receive it, 42,000 reported that a reason for not entering treatment was that they did not have health insurance and could not afford treatment out of pocket.1 Finding ways for patients to receive treatment who cannot pay for it on their own must be a priority to get help for those who need it.

Free and Low-Cost Rehab Options

Finding low or no-cost treatment centers may be the first step for those who cannot afford treatment otherwise. Despite common misconceptions that recovery services are prohibitively expensive, there are plenty of free and low-cost programs. Other programs often receive payment in a variety of ways including out-of-pocket, Medicare and Medicaid, private health insurance and military health insurance.

The Affordable Care Act and Paying for Rehab

US Capitol building

Part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) legislation is a list of required benefits that all insurance plans compliant with the law must cover. Among the required benefits are coverage for substance abuse treatment, that mental health and substance abuse benefits must equal coverage for medical and surgical benefits, and protection that you cannot be denied insurance for an existing substance use disorder.2

Medicaid is a health insurance program for low-income individuals, families, seniors and disabled persons. Benefits vary from state to state. A person with a Medicaid benefit who is seeking drug and/or alcohol rehabilitation services will need to identify programs that accept Medicaid and learn more about which services are covered. It is always best to review your insurance benefits each year as they can change without you being aware.


Detox is often the first step when entering drug treatment. There are different types of detoxification processes available, and each is billed differently.

The most common detox methods include the following:

  • Non-medicated detox – Attempting detox on your own without medical supervision or intervention can be very dangerous to your health. It also has much lower rates of success.
  • Medicated detox – This involves the use of pharmaceuticals to assist with withdrawal symptoms, help avoid relapse, and improve the chances of recovery overall.
  • Residential detox – This type of detox occurs on site at a treatment center or hospital. Patients are medically supervised and may undergo medication-assisted detox.
  • Outpatient detox – Patients are expected to travel to the detox site, a hospital or a treatment center to receive the detox therapy. Medications may be involved in the treatment.

The cost of drug detox programs varies depending on whether is it residential or outpatient, the length of the program and the specific treatment center as centers with more luxurious amenities and locations generally cost more. Some facilities specialize in detox while many detox programs are part of a larger addiction treatment center. Most full-service treatment centers, as well as detox facilities, will talk through your coverage and out-of-pocket expenses with you during the admissions process so that you are not surprised by bills after treatment. Feel free to ask questions during this time to stay informed and invested in your care.

Why Detox Is Not Enough

Detox is a great first step in addiction treatment, and while detox may be necessary for recovery, it is not the entire journey. Detox is simply the process of ridding your body of the substance of abuse. Without ongoing treatment, like talk therapy and behavioral counseling, patients will generally relapse quickly with a much higher potential for overdose.3

Recovery takes time, and the process matters. Detox is the first step, but detox needs to be followed by other forms of therapy and relapse prevention. Many patients benefit from aftercare as well—ongoing support and accountability to stay clean and sober.

Types of Treatment

There are a variety of options when it comes to choosing the treatment that fits your needs.

Some of the more common treatment options include the following:

  • Outpatient care – The benefit of outpatient treatment is the flexibility. Most patients continue to live at home and even work in their regular jobs. They report in for therapy throughout the week based on their needs and progress in treatment. Outpatient programs cost less because they require less involvement.
  • Residential treatment – In residential treatment — or inpatient rehab — patients move into a facility and stay there full-time during the treatment program. Days are scheduled so that patients give their full attention to healing. Residential treatment generally costs more than outpatient because it is full-time.
  • Partial hospitalization – Suitable for patients who require medical monitoring. Visits occur in the hospital three to five days per week, four to six hours per day.
  • Counseling – This can occur on an individual or a group basis. The goal of talk therapy is to help patients understand the reasons behind their substance abuse and to build the skills necessary to live a healthy life and resist the temptation to use again.
  • Sober living – After release from a drug treatment program, some choose to extend their recovery by living with others in similar situations in a drug-free environment.

Each form of treatment is a different financial investment, but for many, the willingness to commit financially is a sign of a deeper commitment to healing.

Paying for Treatment

Addiction treatment for most will require a financial investment. However, continuing in an addiction is always a greater risk and personal detriment.

For those who will not qualify for Medicaid or fully-funded treatment programs, there may be some options within your personal finances including the following:

  • Comparison shop – Different facilities offer different services at varying costs. It’s always beneficial to compare your options.
  • Contact your insurance provider – Checking your insurance coverage before getting attached to a certain facility or program can help you make wise financial decisions.
  • Set up a payment plan – Most treatment centers offer a payment plan in which the patient pays a substantial down payment and determines an ongoing monthly payment amount.
  • Explore private borrowing – In some circumstances, it may be worthwhile to take out a loan to pay for recovery. Seeking wise counsel from trusted financial advisers can help in this area. Some people with existing investment accounts (like a retirement plan) may be able to borrow against the account to pay for treatment.

When exploring financing options, don’t forget to consider if there are any family members or friends who would be willing to support your treatment through a loan or a monetary gift. It is important to weigh your options and consider any implicit obligations you may be taking on by accepting help from family or friends, though.

In addition, when researching or comparing treatment facilities, one cost-saving measure is to minimize any available extra amenities. Choosing to have a roommate or forego other luxuries could cut down on the cost. It is important, however, to have a strong self-awareness of what you will need in order to heal.


While the cost of paying for recovery can be a concern, it should not keep you from seeking treatment. The true concern should be the cost of putting off the treatment that can help you start a new, healthy life. If you or someone you love is looking for treatment options for addiction, please call us today at 760.548.4032. We can talk through all your options with you and the associated costs. We can even check your insurance benefits. Please call today.

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1 "Results from the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Detailed Tables." Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. September 2017.

2 "Mental health & substance abuse coverage." Accessed 28 December 2017.

3 "Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction." National Institute on Drug Abuse. July 2016.