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What to do if you cannot pay for drug rehab? Financing, subsidies, public rehab...

Updated on December 15, 2008

How to pay for rehab

It's unfortunate that all of us are not able to access the best of medical care, and when we or a family member struggles with addiction and substance abuse, it can be hard knowing that there are great drug rehabs available locally, but at a price that is simply out of reach to any of us without private insurance coverage.

If you are unable to pay upfront for your drug rehab care, you are left with three options, and they are all possibilities.

Three options you have

1…Ask for a reduced cost stay

This sounds unbelievable, but the truth is that many if not most better private drug and alcohol rehabs have some form of program available for lower income participants. This can be a mutually beneficial program of subsidizing care, and the rehabs can deduct their charitable care as a tax write off. You can sometimes access very high quality and otherwise prohibitively expensive drug rehab facilities, at a price you may be able to afford.

It will probably still require of you a significant investment, but they may work with you to come to terms acceptable to all.

Additionally, although private drug and alcohol rehabs do exist to make a profit, most people working in these drug rehabs are compassioned and committed professionals who truly want to help you, and they don’t like turning away people in need any more that you like not getting help you deserve.

It won’t always work, but it worthy of an attempt.

2…Ask about financing

There are enough people without insurance coverage (and without tens of thousands of dollars at the ready!) that rehabs have had to, by necessity, arrange for credit and financing options for payment. You may never hope to be able to afford the best of private facilities (whose admissions can range upwards from $20 000 per month) but you could certainly obtain credit for a car of that amount; and if you can get credit for that--- you can get credit for rehab.

You are ultimately responsible for the full price of the rehab, but working together with staff at the facility, you may be able to negotiate a payment schedule satisfactory to all.

No one wants to be left with monthly payments for years after a rehab stay, but if it works, and if you can achieve sobriety, the savings in drugs or alcohol, in reduced health care costs and in increased workplace productivity, should more than pay for your monthly payments for treatment.

No one wants to pay for care, but addiction is a disease much like any disease, and it can kill you in the end if left untreated. You wouldn’t hesitate to pay for cancer treatment, and you shouldn’t defer addiction treatment either. You don’t have so many years in this earth that you can afford to waste many of them with a life of addiction.

3…Look into public rehab programs

There are hundreds of governmentally funded programs for drug and alcohol abuse, and some of them offer an excellent standard of care, and many of them will offer free treatment to those unable to pay for rehab.

Unfortunately, because the available treatment spots never meets demand for care, there is often a waiting list, you may not be able to stay as long as you need, and you won't get as much individual attention and therapy.

These drug rehabs do the best they can with the resources at their disposal, but these resources are inevitably stretched very thinly. Private is not always better, and there are some excellent public options, but in general, public rehabs have to treat more people each year than they can treat with an optimal level of care.

If you decide that a public rehab is your best option, you should contact your local health clinic about information on how to get onto a waiting list immediately.

Anything is better than nothing

It is well worth it to spend a little time and do some research into the best available local drug and alcohol rehab facilities. If you find a drug or alcohol rehab that would be perfect, but is slightly (or even a lot) too expensive, do not hesitate to ask about a reduced cost of stay and to ask about financing. They want to make it possible for you to enter just as you want to access great quality care.

If you simply cannot afford private inpatient care, get on a waiting list today for the next available local governmentally run program of rehab.


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    • profile image


      7 years ago

      My Wife has asked for reduced cost. and it still was more than 3 months of my pay. Getting a loan for rehab is a ridiculous notion. A loan for a car is possible with good credit, and the car is the collateral.. No bank is going to give a loan to an addict with worse than poor credit.. what person from another planet would think that is even far as getting into a public, I work and therefore she doesn't qualify.. i am going to have to kick her out before she can qualify for public help.. there is no help in this world for the middle class.. we work hard to feed the poor riding the system, and then we are left with no help when we need help.. I guess i could quit my job and let the house be foreclosed on, and loos everything, then maybe the system will help, but I have 3 children to think of too... This has been a struggle for over 3 years, and i'm ready to move on..take the kids and find a cheap apartment. I wish my wife could handle the addiction on her own, but the fact is, she needs help, and i have no financial way to help, she bleed me dry, and I have nothing left, and now my children have to suffer too.. the system/medical field needs to make help more available. and all the DEA resources should be turned into help for people, remove the demand, remove the supply.. then there are no drug dealers... the attack the problem from the wrong direction.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I am sickened by the fact that I'm an RN saving lives eveyday working 2 jobs and my insurance WILL NOT pay for inpatient rehab! I work for a hospital and I cannot get the help my 23 year old needs. I have had to Baker/Marchmen act him and then try to get him to go to "intensive outpatient" he shows up and they say, "this is one of 3 assessments, so we will see you at our next available appt in 4 days for his 2nd". This is maddening. He won't make it. I then call the crisis unit and the MD tells me Baker/Marchmen Act him again because of course he is using.... I am on leave of absense running out of money to pay my bills to save my son't life, I just heard the senate is cutting billions in resources for adult addiction... great and this is the hottest thing (prescription drugs) killing our youth even higher than traffic accidents. Hello America this is growing by leaps and bounds and crime wlll go up as there is no help , they will steal to get money for drugs. My son wants help but it is taking so long, I'm afraid he will be dead, or won't as the disease gets stronger.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      What do you do when somebody needs detox now? My grandson has been trying to get into detox and when they assess him they have said he shows no sign of needing it.

      If you are an alcoholic and you know you can't stop on your own what can you do? i AM SICK AND FRUSTRATED.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      A FOURTH OPTION - rehab centers where they put you to WORK to say your own way. See program like trosa in north carolina or delancey in california. They are two year programs but you can leave at any time. You work for their moving company or construction or catering etc etc to pay for your room board and recovery services. Their success rates SKY ROCKET past most any traditional programs. Hope this helps.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      what do i do when spouse will not pay

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      these things should be free. if you don't have money and you have to wait, sometimes it's too late. it's kind of ironic how they would expect a drug addict to have money to pay for rehab. most of the time these people have lost everything and when they find out they don't have the money to pay for this, they lose the only thing they have left:hope.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I am glad that you wrote this article. I think too often people give up on the hope of recovery due to a perception that there is no free help or assistance out there. Even after being around as a non-profit rehab for almost 40 years, I am saddened by how many people don't know that there are always options when it comes to saving their life. Thank you for getting this message out there!

    • sulli profile image


      9 years ago

      Wow, paying for rehab is something I never even though of. You always hear about people going to rehab, but I never realized the financial strain that it could leave.


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