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How To Find Free, Low Cost And Public Assistance Drug Treatment Programs


Part of the cause of the drug epidemic is a lack of access to affordable treatment care. If you or someone you know need addiction treatment, there are possible low-cost, no-cost and public assistance options available.

  • Alcoholism and drug addiction are classified as fatal diseases.

As a result, all levels of drug treatment are considered healthcare. Since substance abuse rehabilitation is addressed medically, it is often funded by insurance. As healthcare, they are expensive, sometimes even with insurance.

  • Sooner or later, most addicts and alcoholics reach a pivotal moment where they decide they’ve had enough and want help.

That decisive moment can be the first step down the road to recovery. In most cases, recovery support is necessary. Achieving long-term abstinence without assistance is rare. Help can come from both professional and non-professional guidance.

  • If you have any type of healthcare coverage, be sure and try and use it.
  • For those who need it, there are low-cost and no-cost options.
  • Treatment is the best way to begin recovery.
  • Getting safely and properly detoxed/stabilized is the first phase in the process.



samhsaThe Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the most comprehensive resource for finding information on substance abuse recovery programs. Calling a government agency may sound intimidating, or even a waste of time. In this case, SAMSHA is an amazing and painless resource.

Although SAMHSA’s database is not overly difficult to navigate, we suggest calling the SAMHSA helpline first. It is the quickest and easiest way to get accurate and timely information. When you call SAMSHA, you’ll quickly be connected to a real person; trained to respond to all questions. SAMSHA’s there to help provide referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations.

  • SAMSHA’s no-cost helpline: 1-800-662-4357
  • SAMHSA is the federal government’s main division for providing drug and alcohol help and information.
  • It is possible to find a free, or low cost program by calling SAMHSA’s toll-free number.
  • The SAMHSA helpline is totally confidential and available 24/7, 365-days-a-year, no-cost service.
  • Services are provided in both English and Spanish.

You can also access SAMHSA’s database directly on its website. That database contains a comprehensive list of facilities and programs at all levels of care. Access is at the city, state, county or zip code level. Type in where you want to search, level of care, and what kind of insurance (if any) available.

  • Click to access SAMSHA’s nationwide database

2) Salvation Army

Although the Salvation Army sounds unattractive, it has helped thousands of people get started in recovery. Most are well managed and help when no one else will.

From Salvation Army’s website: “For over 100 years, The Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Centers and Harbor Light Programs have offered spiritual, emotional, and social assistance to those who have lost the ability to cope with their problems and provide for themselves.”

  • The Salvation Army has more no-fee rehabilitation facilities than any other organization in the world.
  • There is no-cost for attending their inpatient, residential program

3) Twelve-Step Programs

Believe it or not, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) have helped millions of people around the world get clean and sober through their 12-step programs.

Although not officially a treatment program per se, lots of people have started recovery by going to 90 meetings in 90 days. AA and NA are fellowships of men and women who help each other stay clean and sober, one day at a time.

  • Technically, AA or NA are not a rehab (or detox) program.
  • All it takes to begin recovery is to walk into an AA or NA meeting with an open mind and willingness to change.
  • The only ongoing requirement is the desire to not drink or use any other mood-altering chemical.
  • There is no cost. Contributions ($1) are strictly on a voluntary basis.
  • Go to 5-6 meetings before deciding if AA or NA are a viable option for you

It can all start by finding a meeting nearby you. Both websites have comprehensive databases of meeting times and locations.

  • Find a local AA meeting
  • Locate NA meetings in your area


1) Sober Living or Halfway Houses

For those with little financial resources and no insurance, consider the possibility of a sober living house (SLH).

  • See a full discussion about Sober Living Houses (SLH’s) as a possible lower-cost recovery path.

One week of sobriety may allow someone in early recovery to qualify to live in a SLH for the cost of rent and food. As a resident, they will continue to recover using AA or NA 12-step programs (usually a requirement). SLH’s are not rehab and are rarely, if ever, covered by healthcare insurance.

2) Teen Challenge

Teen Challenge is a faith-based organization that offers help for teens or adults overcome addiction.


Medicaid may assist with all levels of treatment services. From their website; “In all states, Medicaid provides health coverage for most low-income people. In some states, the program covers all low-income adults below a certain income level.”

  • For up-to-date information about Medicaid eligibility head to the Health and Human Services website.
  • To officially determine Medicaid eligibility
  • To apply for Medicaid

Affordable Care Act (ACA)

The federal government’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) was created to help lower-income people gain access to health care Insurance. Insurance acquired through ACA may pay for a major portion of recovery and may be a good lower-cost recovery path.

Unfortunately, ACA’s open enrollment period for 2019 closed on December 15, 2018. Open enrollment for 2020 starts November 1, 2019 and closes December 15, 2019.

  • There is possibly a way to qualify for insurance through ACA for this year.

That possibility is called a Qualifying Event (QE) where some may be eligible for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP). That SEP could occur any time in a year that’s outside of normal Open Enrollment dates. Two major Qualifying Events are: loss of a job and consequently loss of healthcare; or recently getting married. There are more QE’s than those two.

To see if you are eligible for one of ACA’s Qualifying Events, check here.


For those already on Medicare, some rehabilitation facilities might accept Medicare, especially for detox or Intensive Out Patient (IOP). To find out which facilities take Medicare in your state, call SAMSHA’s National Helpline 1-800-662-4357.




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