How to Pay for Addiction Treatment

How to cover the cost of drug addiction treatment is often foremost in the minds of families seeking care for a loved one living in addiction.

With so many options available and little guidance in terms of how best to navigate the options, many people let their pocketbook be the deciding factor.

Especially after living through the crisis of addiction – a bankrupting experience for many families – money is certainly an issue. But the good news is that even if money is tight, your family doesn’t have to forego effective and comprehensive treatment for you or your loved one. There are a number of affordable options as well as resources to pay for treatment costs.

Health Insurance

If you have health insurance, the current law provides that you will have coverage for addiction treatment and mental health treatment that is comparable to the treatment provided for physical ailments. This means that you will have coverage for all care that is deemed medically necessary by your physician, but it does not specify any details. That is, exactly what portion of the cost is covered or what is defined as “medically necessary” will vary widely.

In many cases, health insurance providers will cover the cost of the most basic outpatient treatment services, but may need some interaction from your doctor to cover inpatient treatment, long-term maintenance medications, and some holistic treatment services that support ongoing sobriety. There may also be a time limit. For example, your health insurance policy may cover inpatient treatment for fewer than 30 days but cover the cost of outpatient treatment for three months. Every company and every policy is different. If you can prove that you have a medical need for a specific treatment with the help of your doctor then you should be able to get some portion of the costs covered minus deductibles and copays.

If you do not have health insurance, it may be less expensive to secure a policy and use it to pay for the costs of treatment than it would be to pay for the entire bill out of pocket. Take your time and explore your options, taking care to find out what addiction treatment services are covered and in what amount, copays that are relevant, deductibles that may apply, and how the policy handles other related issues such as long-term therapeutic care and detox or maintenance medications.

Choosing Treatment Wisely

Especially if your health insurance only covers certain kinds of treatment, you may be faced with choosing between paying a large sum out of pocket and agreeing to a less intensive treatment program. It is important to note that less intensive does not necessarily translate into less effective. Substance use disorders occur on a spectrum, and for some people, outpatient treatment services are an appropriate response. For many, an intensive outpatient treatment that allows them to continue working and to live at home with the heavy support of a treatment community is ideal. For those who do not have a safe and sober place to live, who struggle with intense mental health issues, and/or who have lived for years, if not decades, in active addiction, inpatient drug rehab is the best choice.

Though it is absolutely not a good idea to choose a less intensive program due to the lower price tag if it is not ultimately going to be effective, take some time to discuss options with your doctor to determine what is truly necessary for you to build a solid foundation in recovery.


Health insurance does not always cover the entire cost of treatment. Many people find that they would benefit from augmentative therapies or more time spent in active treatment and must come up with the ability to pay the cost on their own. Few families in this situation have money sitting in the bank that is ready and available for this purpose. Rather, most pull from a number of different resources to pay the bill. Some options include:

  • Government-funded programs: There are often funds available in the state or city budget for covering the cost of treatment for certain populations or for providing a specific group or service. Find out what is happening in your community and if there is something that would fit your needs.
  • Savings: Though there may not be a lot of extra money in the savings account, you may consider the option of cashing out some savings that may be earmarked for other things. Vacation funds, college funds, retirement, and other options may be a good choice depending on your financial situation.
  • Sales: It may be easier and more appropriate to sell some items you have at home. Whether it’s a big ticket item like a car or exercise equipment you have in the house or it means holding a garage sale to unload unneeded clothes and house items, it can give you some cash in hand to start dealing with the treatment costs.
  • Friends and family: Those who are close to your family may want nothing more than to support your family in the recovery process. You can create a Go Fund Me page that gives those who are interested in contributing a way to help out or create a contractual loan with a family member who has the means to provide significant support.

Waiting Is Not an Option

Even if finances are tight, if there is a substance use disorder in the family, it is not an option to postpone treatment. Every day spent actively using drugs and alcohol can result in more emotional and physical harm. Immediate treatment is recommended. If you are unsure about how to begin to navigate the financial aspect of rehab, contact us today to speak with a counselor about your options.

About The Contributor

Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff, American Addiction Centers

The editorial staff of Desert Hope Treatment Center is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have... Read More

Have you lost control of
your substance abuse?

Traveling for healthcare & essential services is permitted across the US. Addiction treatment is essential, and we are here for our patients in this difficult time.

Begin Now