Recognizing that you need professional addiction treatment is a very important step in the recovery process, but unless you take the next step—actually finding and checking into a treatment program—your recovery efforts will fizzle before they can even begin.
In a single day count in 2015, that 1.3 million Americans were enrolled in treatment for substance abuse. But those people only reflect a small number of the total individuals who need treatment. In that same year, only 7.1% of Americans with an alcohol use disorder and 11% addicted to illicit drugs received specialty treatment for their problem.
People avoid treatment for many reasons, but one of the most needless is to think that you can’t get into alcohol or drug rehab with no insurance, or if you have other financial problems. This hesitation applies to a large number of individuals suffering from addiction. Addiction and the behaviors that go along with it can have serious financial consequences—buying substances for regular use can be very expensive, as can problems resulting from substance abuse, such as car accidents or legal trouble. Furthermore, substance abuse often results in loss of income. Many addicts are already in debt before they realize they need help, and they’re afraid the cost of rehab will put them in a financial hole they’ll never be able to crawl out of.
Thankfully, getting into rehab with no insurance or no money is possible—you just have to know the ways to make addiction treatment affordable.
How to Get into Rehab with No Money Using Insurance
People with medical insurance still worry about the cost of substance abuse treatment if they don’t have a good income or are already deeply in debt. Many people don’t realize that most insurance plans provide coverage for addiction treatment programs, from inpatient residential facilities to outpatient day programs. Addiction treatment and prevention is also designated as an essential health benefit that all insurance plans sold through the Healthcare Marketplace are required to cover.
Even private insurance plans usually cover substance abuse treatment these days. This coverage is not a kindness, it’s actually cost-effective. Insurance companies now recognize addiction as a treatable, medical condition, while also recognizing that untreated addictions can lead to a wide range of medical issues and expenses, including drug-related conditions, such as collapsed veins and infected heart valves due to IV drug use, and emergency room visits for accidents and overdose.
When you pull back and look at the big picture, insurance companies generate more profit by paying for quality addiction treatment now, instead of denying coverage, and then having to pay for the expensive medical complications that inevitably result from long-term drug and alcohol abuse.
To determine what kind of substance abuse treatment is coverage by your insurance plan, or to find a treatment program that is partially or fully covered by your insurance, contact your provider. Addiction hotlines and rehab facilities can also be very helpful when it comes to determining insurance coverage.
How to Get into Rehab Using the ACA, Medicaid and Medicare
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) includes drug and alcohol addiction on their list of ten essential health benefits, and therefore any policies sold through the ACA are required to cover addiction treatment, whether the insurance in question comes through the state health insurance exchange or through Medicaid.
Medicaid and Medicare are state and federally funded health insurance programs that provide low or no-cost substance abuse treatment. Medicaid and Medicare eligibility depends on what state you live in, and the rules can change from year to year. Don’t think that Medicaid or Medicare isn’t an option just because you were turned down before – make sure you check to see if you are now eligible.
Despite the variations, there are some basic expectations you can have for these two programs. Anyone over 65, and individuals with disabilities qualify for Medicare. Medicaid supports low-income families and individuals, who are in a certain income bracket, are pregnant or have young children, or are elderly or disabled. The expansion of the ACA requires Medicaid insurance to cover addiction treatment and recovery services, either in part or in full, although specific provisions vary by state.
How to Get into Rehab with No Money and No Insurance
There are ways to get into alcohol and drug rehab with no insurance, too. In addition to public assistance programs, there are some treatment centers and programs that provide low or no-cost addiction treatment thanks to charitable contributions and/or state and federal funding.
Some facilities charge on a sliding scale, depending on your income and other factors, such as if you are pregnant, and some facilities have no charge at all. The federal government supports addiction treatment centers through SAMHSA, a government agency that provides resources, services, information, and grants that enable substance abuse and mental health treatment centers to help people who may not be able to afford the professional care they need.
Individual states set up and run their own rehab centers through various levels of government funding, as well as other funding sources, in order to provide low or no cost treatment to state residents struggling with addiction. They usually have specific requirements you must show for admission, such as:
- Presented information about the severity of addiction and substance abuse history
- Proof of U.S. citizenship or legal residence
- Proof of state residence
- Demonstrated inability to pay for other treatment due to lack of insurance, insufficient income, etc.
The greatest obstacle to getting treatment at a low or no cost rehab, regardless of whether it’s a private non-profit or a government-funded facility, is getting in. Most of these treatment centers have a waiting list, so you probably won’t be able to check into rehab the moment you reach out for help. Priority is given to individuals with greater need, such as pregnant women, but most people have to wait in line. Luckily, a number of these facilities offer outpatient services that can prevent wait-listed individuals from reaching a crisis point before a space opens up for them to check in.
To find out which agency is responsible for managing affordable facilities in your state, you can check SAMHSA’s Directory of Single State Agencies (SSAs).
Alternative Treatment Options
If you are waiting for a spot to open up in a low or no-cost rehab facility, or if you don’t believe that an intensive, inpatient program is what you really need, there are alternatives to rehab that can provide a great deal of help and healing to recovering addicts
Addiction support groups are a completely free way to explore your addiction issues and learn from other recovering addicts in an atmosphere of acceptance and understanding. The only requirement to join these groups is the desire to live a life free of substance abuse. The process of giving and receiving support within a community of people who truly understand what you are going through can be a big boost to anyone’s recovery.
Another alternative to checking into rehab takes a page from the kinds of therapies offered by facilities with a holistic approach to treatment. The philosophy of holistic treatment holds that to truly conquer addiction, you need to approach recovery by seeking to heal body, mind and spirit. Addiction is not just a physical issue, nor just a psychological one, but rather a disease that impacts every aspect of a person’s life and being.
Holistic treatment centers offer many therapeutic interventions that you could try outside of rehab, such as:
- Counseling– many states offer free or low-cost counseling services that will allow you to discover and work on the underlying mental health issues contributing to your addiction
- Yoga– this may seem like an option that is only available to the rich, but in fact, yoga is a healing, centering exercise that anyone can do with the help of library books and YouTube videos
- Healthy habits– no matter how you are approaching your recovery process, healthy habits such as eating nutritionally rich food, getting quality sleep, and making time for regular exercise, are essential to healing the damage addiction has inflicted on your body and mind
- Meditation and mindfulness– those who find meditation good for their mental health often refer to it as a lifesaver, but even if you find meditation amplifies instead of reduces your stress, you can still benefit from mindfulness training designed to keep you grounded in the present moment
- Nature therapy– some rehab programs offer horseback riding therapy, along with hiking and other nature-based forms of therapy. Contact with animals, whether direct interaction with a pet, or indirect interaction with animals at the zoo, as well as time spent communing with the great outdoors, are vastly healing activities
Why it’s Important to Seek Professional Substance Abuse Treatment, No Matter Your Financial Situation
Maybe you’re thinking it isn’t worth the trouble to do all the research and fill out all the forms for getting into drug or alcohol rehab with no insurance or no money, only to be put on a waiting list, but it is worth every bit of that effort and more. Treatment at a professional addiction treatment facility will give you a much better chance of recovering your health and reclaiming your life than any other approach to addiction recovery.
The fact is that addiction causes profound changes to brain chemistry and structure, which take a great deal of time and specialized treatment to heal. A qualified rehab center will keep you safe, help you heal, and make you much less likely to relapse.
Rehab can guide you safely through the detoxification process, with as much comfort and healing as possible. It can be incredibly dangerous to detox on your own, partly because painful withdrawal symptoms will make you vulnerable to relapse, but also, individuals who have particularly severe or long-standing addictions, or who abuse certain kinds of drugs, are at risk of developing withdrawal syndromes that can be fatal without swift emergency care.
To discover if you can safely detox on your own, educate yourself on what is involved in detoxing from your drug of choice, or detoxing when you are an especially heavy drinker. Many substances, such as benzodiazepines, can have a lethal effect if you attempt to quit them cold turkey. The best option in risky cases is to slowly and gradually wean yourself off your drug of choice under the guidance of medical professionals. Rehab can also facilitate the withdrawal process through medications such as methadone, buprenorphine, disulfiram and Acamprosate.
Even if your drug of choice does not have life-threatening withdrawal symptoms, all withdrawal experiences are challenging, and you will be particularly vulnerable to relapse at this time. Having the oversight of a program to keep you on your recovery path will prevent setbacks. In addition, more fatal overdoses occur after detox than any other time, because recovering addicts attempt to use at their customary dosage without realizing that their newly lowered physical tolerance has made that dosage fatal.
Another key aspect of treatment at a quality rehab facility is the intense focus on your individual addiction and the reasons behind it. Through one on one, group, and individual counseling sessions, you will come to an understanding of why you started abusing drugs or alcohol in the first place. This sort of self-discovery is essential for long-term recovery. Knowing the roots of your addiction issues will show you areas you need to address in your recovery, as well as prepare you to cope well with issues that might otherwise cause you to relapse in the future.
Rehab facilities can also provide you with aftercare support to promote a continuous, substance-free lifestyle. Recovery is not something you can take care of in a few days and be done. It is an ongoing process of self-awareness and self-care. Time in a rehab center can help you plan for what comes next after treatment, as well as offer you resources to turn to in times of need.