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Free or No-Cost Rehab: Scholarships and Other Routes to Affordability

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Figuring out how to afford rehab for alcohol or drug addiction can be one of the main barriers that prevent people from getting the treatment they need. Costs for standard drug treatment programs can run into thousands of dollars per month, which is a lot for anyone to cover without assistance. You may assume that you need health insurance to afford proper treatment or that there is no way you can cover the costs on your own. 

Fortunately, there are many programs throughout the country that have been designed to provide free or low-cost addiction treatment programs. Everyone deserves the chance to recover from a substance use disorder. An inability to afford treatment should not be the reason you don’t receive it. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), nearly 24 million people struggle with substance abuse issues every year, yet just more than 11 percent of those people receive the specialty treatment they need. Publicly funded rehab programs provide an affordable way for many of these people to get treatment. The greatest percentage of admissions are related to alcohol abuse, either on its own or in conjunction with another misused drug. Publicly funded rehab programs come in many different forms, but all strive to provide free or affordable addiction treatment to people who need it.

Government-Funded Rehab Programs

Government-funded rehab programs receive money from federal or state governments to implement effective addiction treatment programs. Licensed clinicians run these programs, and they offer comprehensive treatment. They are sometimes limited by the variety of resources they can provide, such as the range of therapies they can work with, but that does not mean they cannot be effective and life-changing. 

In government-funded programs, treatment is often based on a sliding scale. That is, you are only expected to pay what you can afford based on your income. For some people, this may mean they receive treatment for free. In addition, many government programs provide the option of creating a payment plan to pay your portion of treatment fees over time. 

If you enroll in a government treatment program, you can expect to benefit from a full set of treatment services. Services offered in these treatment programs include:

  • Medical detox
  • Medication-assisted treatment
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Additional behavioral therapies
  • Aftercare and relapse prevention planning

When selecting a government-funded program, some people are worried they won’t get all of the care they need. Government programs undergo rigorous monitoring and evaluation from their funding sources. If government-funded programs do not perform well, they run the risk of losing funding and being shut down. The biggest catch to government-funded programs is there often are waiting lists to get in, some with a wait as long as six months. If you are fortunate enough to be admitted into one of these programs, it is up to you to take advantage of the services available and work through your recovery process. 

Insurance Coverage

All major health care insurance companies provide at least partial coverage for addiction treatment, with some plans providing close to full coverage. How much coverage, however, depends on your individual treatment plan.

In most cases, you will be responsible for paying a copay, coinsurance, or deductible for any services you receive. In general, the lower your monthly insurance payment, the higher your deductible and copays will be. The higher your monthly insurance payment is, the greater percentage of costs will be covered.

Insurance companies that provide partial or full coverage for substance misuse disorders include:

  • United Healthcare. Behavioral health services, including addiction treatment, can be accessed through UnitedHealthcare’s Live and Work Well website. Options for affordable in-network treatment of mental health and substance use disorders are available.
  • Cigna. In addition to behavioral health services, Cigna offers the Cigna Designated Substance Use Treatment Provider Program to provide in-network access to addiction treatment centers across the country.
  • Aetna. Aetna provides a Behavioral Health Condition Management program that is included in members’ behavioral health benefits. It provides treatment options for mental health and substance abuse.
  • BlueCross BlueShield (BCBS). Coverage through BCBS varies by state, so you must visit your state’s local website to confirm your benefits. Behavioral health services, including treatment for substance use disorders, are available. 
  • Anthem, Inc. Anthem provides coverage for substance abuse treatment, though medical necessity will need to be established to receive coverage for services. Anthem works with BCBS and can take advantage of BCBS’s large network of service providers.
  • Humana. Behavioral health services are offered through Humana’s employer-sponsored and Medicare Advantage plans. Preauthorization is likely required to receive treatment, but this will also help you understand your responsibility for treatment costs.
  • Centene. Centene provides substance abuse treatment that can be covered through its Medicare and Medicaid plans. Detoxification, inpatient, outpatient, and sober living accommodations all receive some percentage of coverage. 

The only way to know if your insurance plan provides full coverage for addiction treatment is to contact the customer service department of your insurance company. Telephone numbers can typically be found on the back of your insurance card or online through your member account. Representatives from addiction treatment programs can also help you to confirm your coverage.

Nonprofit Rehabs

free treatment

Nonprofit rehab programs provide another affordable option for treatment. They usually receive funding through grants, scholarships, and money raised to support their cause. Nonprofit treatment is delivered through inpatient and outpatient settings that can be short-term or long-term. Similar to government-funded treatment programs, nonprofit rehabs often have waiting lists. You will probably have to provide evidence of your income to demonstrate your need for low-cost treatment.

Unfortunately, many people don’t qualify for nonprofit rehab because their income levels are too high, but they also can’t afford the high costs of private treatment centers. If this is the case, you may still be able to receive low-cost treatment through a government-funded program.

Rehabs Through Religious Organizations

Rehab programs provided through religious organization, also referred to as faith-based treatment centers, are another option for receiving affordable treatment. If spirituality plays a significant role in your life, it can also be a valuable tool in recovery. Finding a treatment program that harnesses the power of spirituality can make rehab even more impactful for you. 

SAMHSA has partnered with more than 800 faith-based community organizations in the U.S. that are focused on providing substance abuse and mental health services. The goal of these partnerships is to support recovery and build resilience in individuals as they go through substance abuse treatment, particularly in underserved communities. SAMHSA helps organizations like these by providing training and curriculum for effective programs as well as grants available through state funding.

Similar to nonreligious rehab programs, faith-based treatment centers provide comprehensive treatment services. Medical detox, access to medications, and counseling and behavioral therapies are all likely to be included at any rehab provided by a religious organization. In addition to these services, however, an exploration of spirituality and how it plays a role in your recovery will likely take place. The costs of faith-based treatment programs vary like any other type of treatment. Some facilities may have partially or fully funded programs, while others are still relatively expensive. If you have insurance, utilizing it to attend a faith-based treatment center is an option. You’ll want to consult with your insurance company, however, to determine if the religious program you are interested in is within network or not. Oftentimes, insurance companies don’t cover fees associated with religious practices, though some evidenced-based therapies within the program may be covered.

Charity Rehab Programs

Many charities across the country have established rehab programs for people who cannot afford to pay for treatment but are ready to get help. High-quality services are provided at little or no cost to the participants. Oftentimes, these programs are aimed at helping homeless populations or people from very low-income communities. Specific populations, such as women or adolescents in need of addiction treatment, may also be targeted by charity organizations. 

Like government and nonprofit rehab programs, accessibility remains one of the biggest challenges to charity rehab programs. The need is high for free or low-cost treatment, but resources are limited. If you are fortunate enough to be admitted to a charity rehab program, you are likely to receive treatment services similar to those offered in any other treatment program. Residential and outpatient settings are often available. 

Many charities have a religious affiliation, but they don’t necessarily require that you share their beliefs. The Salvation Army, for example, is an international charity that provides many services, one of which is addiction treatment. Free programs offered to qualifying individuals include the following:

  • Food and housing
  • Counseling
  • Community engagement
  • Employment
  • Alcohol and drug dependence

Each year, more than 150,000 people in the United States receive free services through the Salvation Army. It provides access to more free rehab facilities that any other program in the United States. Its addiction treatment programs focus on combating addiction, building work and social skills, regaining personal health and stability, and reuniting families that have been torn apart by addiction. 

Private Treatment Programs

If you have your heart set on attending a particular private rehab program that feels like the best fit to meet your treatment needs, you may still be able to find ways to afford it. Many private rehab programs have scholarships available. While it can be time-consuming to apply for a scholarship, it could give you access to the treatment program you would really like to attend. Another option to help you with paying for private rehab is to establish a payment plan with financing options through the treatment center. Private programs, in particular, are well-equipped to work with you to make treatment a possibility. If they don’t have any scholarships available, you will most likely be able to establish a payment plan, so you can start treatment as soon as possible and pay for the services as you go.

Resources for Finding Affordable Rehab Programs

According to the Salvation Army, costs related to drug abuse total over $700 billion dollars per year. The costs for people to attend effective drug treatment programs are a fraction of this price and an investment in the future of families and communities across the country.

If you are looking for free or no-cost rehab, there are many routes to affordability for you to take advantage of. Resources are available to identify government-funded, nonprofit, and charity rehab programs that could be appropriate for you.

SAMHSA provides a great free and confidential online Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator. By entering your location, SAMHSA can provide resources for affordable treatment options near you. 

GuideStar is another online resource for researching charities and nonprofit organizations in the United States. It provides a comprehensive database of all charities but has a subcategory of more than 8,500 charities and nonprofits dedicated to providing addiction treatment services.


(April 2018). About Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. from

Combat Addiction. The Salvation Army USA. from

BCBS Companies and Licensees. BlueCross BlueShield. from

(January 2012). Behavioral Health Medical Necessity Criteria. Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield. from

Behavioral Health Programs. Aetna. from

Behavioral Health Services. Humana. from

(March 2011). Drug Facts: Treatment Statistics. National Institute on Drug Abuse. from

Live and Work Well. Optum. from

Our History. Centene Corporation. from

(May 2017). The Cigna Designated Substance Abuse Treatment Provider Program. Cigna. from

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