In the United States, an estimated 1 in 12 people (8.1%) of the country struggles with addiction to drugs or alcohol.1 If you fall into this category and are ready to seek professional help, you may consider entering a professional drug detox program. Detox is an important first step on the road to recovery and can help you manage a potentially difficult withdrawal period and overcome other obstacles in the way of getting sober. Additionally, detox programs facilitate your transition into a longer-term substance abuse program for ongoing recovery.
However, due to the high costs associated with detox, many people forego getting the help they need. In fact, studies show that not being able to afford the cost of care is the most common barrier to both substance abuse and mental health treatment services. Although improvements in public insurance have made it possible for more adults to receive services, cost remains a major concern for those entering treatment.2 If you are considering entering a detox program and are concerned about the costs, there are many resources available to you.
Most private insurance companies cover substance abuse treatment services, but they don’t always cover all of it. If you have one of the following private insurance providers, visit their website for more information about what drug and alcohol detox programs they do and do not cover:
According to economic projections, the amount that the United States is expected to spend on addiction treatment will increase from $24.3 billion in 2009 to $42 billion in 2020. The amount of money spent by private insurance companies for addiction treatment is projected to increase from $5.1 billion to $8.5 billion during the same time period.3
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) insured an additional 16 million people by dramatically expanding Medicaid and creating federal- and state-based health insurance marketplaces.4 Under the ACA, addiction treatment is included as an essential health benefit, so if you are not currently enrolled in a private insurance plan and you want to sign up, visit HealthCare.Gov to see if you qualify for coverage.
Medicaid is now the largest payer for substance use treatment since the ACA’s expansion provided more people with the opportunity to access treatment, including detox services.4 It is a joint federal and state program that provides free or low-cost insurance coverage to people who meet low-income requirements and are:
- 65 or older.
- 19 or younger.
- Caring for a child.
Although every state is different, all Medicaid plans cover behavioral health services for people with substance use disorders. To apply online, learn more about coverage, or for more information, visit Medicaid.gov.
Not all rehab facilities accept Medicaid, so to find a treatment center that does, use SAMHSA’s Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator tool.
Medicare is a federal insurance program that provides insurance coverage to people:
- 65 or older.
- Of any age living with certain disabilities.
- Of any age living with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) or ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease).
To see if you qualify for Medicare, visit Medicare.gov. There are different enrollment periods throughout the year, but the most common enrollment time is around a person’s 65th birthday. Other open enrollment dates include:
- Medicare Initial Enrollment Period (IEP): The IEP begins 3 months before your 65th birthday and lasts until 3 months after you turn 65.
- General Enrollment Period (GEP): January 1–March 31 every year. If you enroll during this time, your Medicare coverage begins July 1.
- Medicare Special Enrollment Period (SEP): If you experience a qualifying life event (QLE), you can enroll in coverage outside of the designated enrollment dates. Examples of QLEs include moving, losing current coverage, leaving jail, or getting married.
Researchers have found that insurance coverage policies act as barriers to treatment. For example, a study found that 24.6% of single mothers who receive welfare and wanted substance abuse or mental health treatment cited cost or lack of insurance as a reason for not accessing treatment.5
Detox programs can cost anywhere from $600 to $1,000 per day and may last between several days and a few weeks, depending on the substance or substances used.6
Program prices vary based on other factors, including:
- Amount of medical care needed.
Abusing certain substances can lead to distressing withdrawal symptoms that can, in some cases, be fatal. Professional detox programs can provide the medical and psychological supervision and care necessary to minimize your risks and facilitate your ongoing recovery. Unfortunately, more than 50% of addiction treatment programs do not accept any health insurance.3
If a detox center does not accept your insurance, you don’t have insurance, or you want to pay out of pocket, you can:
- Use money from your retirement or savings fund: If you have money in your retirement savings account, you can use part of it to cover the cost of detox. Although this isn’t ideal, it may be necessary to finance entering rehab.
- Paying in cash: If you are able to cover treatment independent of insurance, you can always pay for your treatment in cash.
- Borrowing from family and friends: If your friends and family have the resources available and are willing to support you financially, you can ask for their help in covering treatment costs. Depending on your arrangement, this money could be paid back at a later date.
Nothing is more important than your sobriety and health, and there is always a way to get the help you need. If you do not have insurance, you can finance detox through several methods, including any combination of the strategies listed below. The important part is getting started and committing to getting clean.
- Sliding scale: Most rehab programs offer you the option of paying for treatment according to your ability to pay. If you meet certain income criteria, you may be charged less than another person if you are unable to cover the full cost of treatment.
- Payment plan: If you cannot cover the full cost of treatment all at once, you can ask the treatment facility if they offer payment plans in which you can pay a set amount each month until your detox is paid off.
- Personal loans: You can talk to a bank or lender about whether you qualify for a personal loan to use toward treatment.
- Specialized healthcare loans: Some institutions specialize in providing healthcare loans to help people cover drug rehab costs. Financial lending businesses that offer these types of loans include Prosper Healthcare Lending and My Treatment Lender.
- Crowdfunding: Websites such as GoFundMe, Crowdrise, and IndieGoGo can help you create online campaigns where you can share your addiction story and ask friends, family, and the general public for money. Depending on how much you raise, you may be able to cover the entire cost of treatment.
- Healthcare credit card: You can apply for a credit card to cover your treatment costs. Even if you have poor credit history, you can find cards that will accommodate you. Keep in mind that credit cards usually have high interest rates, so try to pay it off as soon as possible. If you’re concerned that you won’t be able to afford the monthly payments, seek out other options before applying for a credit card. Racking up credit card debt can create unnecessary financial stress, which is a big reason many people relapse.
Scholarship programs are available to cover your detox costs—research your options online, getting started with these options:
- 10,000 Beds: This scholarship provides grants to help cover the cost of treatment. You can find an application online and apply.
- Sobriety Foundation: This foundation helps people who are struggling with alcohol or drugs; you can submit an application anytime using the online portal.
- Non-profits: Most cities have a robust network of non-profits that receive government funds or outside grants to help people struggling with substance use get into treatment.
- Churches: It is common for churches to raise funds to help support people during difficult moments in their life. Reach out to see if a church near you offers assistance for detox services.
- Treatment centers: Some rehabs offer free beds to people who present with extreme need.
While it may seem expensive to enter a drug detox program, this cost is minor compared to the price you pay for an untreated substance addiction. Nothing is more important than your sobriety and health—there is always a way to get the help you need.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2015). Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
- Mojtabai, R., Chen, L. Y., Kaufmann, C. N., & Crum, R. M. (2014). Comparing Barriers to Mental Health Treatment and Substance Use Disorder Treatment among Individuals with Comorbid Major Depression and Substance Use Disorders. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment.
- Andrews, C., Abraham, A., Grogan, C. M., Pollock, H. A., Bersamira, C., Humphreys, K., & Friedmann, P. (2015). Despite Resources From The ACA, Most States Do Little To Help Addiction Treatment Programs Implement Health Care Reform. Health Affairs (Project Hope), 34(5), 828–835.
- Guerrero, E. G., Garner, B. R., Cook, B., Kong, Y., Vega, W. A., & Gelberg, L. (2017). Identifying and reducing disparities in successful addiction treatment completion: testing the role of Medicaid payment acceptance. Substance abuse treatment, prevention, and policy, 12(1), 27.
- Ann Priester, M., Browne, T., Iachini, A., Clone, S., DeHart, D., & Seay, K. D. (2016). Treatment Access Barriers and Disparities Among Individuals with Co-occurring Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders: An Integrative Literature Review. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 61, 47–59.
- American Addiction Centers. (2017). Treatment Costs.