Unfortunately, many people with a substance use disorder (SUD) don’t get the treatment they need. In 2019, about 18.9 million people aged 12 or older had an SUD but did not get treatment.1 For roughly 1 out of 5 of these people, the reason they didn’t seek treatment was because they had no health care and couldn’t afford it.1
Cost shouldn’t prevent you from getting the help you need. Many options exist for low- or no-cost treatment. This article will explain how you can find free rehab programs to help you start on the road to recovery.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) makes it easy for you to find free SUD treatment. Use their Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator to find free detox centers, inpatient rehab, outpatient rehab, and more in your local area.
To begin, just type in an address, city, or ZIP code where you want to look for free drug and alcohol treatment centers. A map will pop up with results. Narrow them down to free or low-cost facilities by clicking the “SU & MH” drop-down list and filtering for “Payment assistance.”
When you contact a treatment center, have information about your income and insurance ready so they can verify that you qualify for their free services.
Don’t have any health insurance? It doesn’t have to be a barrier to treatment. Many affordable rehab centers take payments, offer a sliding scale, or even have financing options. Research your options for treatment without insurance to see what would work for you.
Who can use free drug and alcohol rehab centers depends on the program. Many places have strict rules so they can help the people most in need. Not having enough money to pay is the main rule. But you may also still be able to get free care if you meet certain social requirements, such as:
What is a priority population? It’s any group of people who may be at higher risk for more severe health issues from substance use. Every state or region might have its own priority populations. As an example, in South Carolina, priority populations for free substance use help include:2
Keep in mind that most of your treatments should be covered if you have insurance. You can always check this by verifying your insurance.
Some programs also allow partial payment. This means part of your treatment costs may be covered, but you’ll need to foot the bill for the rest of your services.
Every free drug and alcohol rehab center is a little different. Services may vary according to the program you choose—it can include anything from outpatient medical maintenance to intensive inpatient treatment.
Some programs cover a full range of treatment. This is ideal because you’ll likely go through many stages of treatment including detox, inpatient care, and outpatient care. All of these services combined form the foundation of effective treatment.3
That said, no matter what is included, treatment is still valuable. In one study that looked at people with SUDs, those who did not enroll in any treatment had an increase in mental health problems compared to those who did get treatment.4
There are many types of free rehab treatment centers. The kind you choose will depend on your specific needs.
There are many free addiction treatment programs at the federal and state level. These might include state-funded rehab centers, government-funded facilities, or even VA treatment centers.
To qualify for these, you may need to show proof of residency, lack of income, and addiction status.
Many recovery-focused nonprofits make it their mission to help certain populations with SUDs. If you fit into one of these underserved populations, you may be able to take advantage of free addiction help. Some programs include:
Free faith-based drug rehab centers include:
Most SUD support groups are free. These aren’t technically rehab. But studies show they can be just as effective as other SUD treatments while reducing overall healthcare costs for people with SUDs.5 Some common mutual-help groups include:
As with most things in life, there are pros and cons to free inpatient or outpatient rehab. Learning more about these can help you make the best treatment decision for your needs.
The biggest advantage of free rehab is just that—it’s free. You won’t have to empty your savings or take out a loan to get the help you need. Everyone can get the help they need in a safe environment without fear.
Not only that, but you’ll be surrounded by caring staff. This might be a big change from your usual life, especially if you have limited support from your friends or family.
Unfortunately, you’re not alone in needing help to pay for rehab. The high demand for free rehab services might mean you have to wait for treatment. While eventually getting treatment is important, studies show that waiting to get treatment can result in poorer outcomes.4
Many of these treatment centers also have a limited budget since they spend most of their money on offering low-cost or free services. This may mean equipment is outdated or there aren’t as many amenities. But as long as you’re getting evidence-based treatment from qualified professionals, this shouldn’t be too much of a drawback.