How to Find Substance Abuse Treatment Without Insurance

For those people who are looking for drug and alcohol treatment in Florida or elsewhere, navigating the different types of care that are covered by different insurance companies can be a difficult task. Oftentimes calling around to different facilities in your area and discussing what insurance carriers are in-network with those places can be the best option. For those patients without insurance, it can oftentimes be much more complicated. Cost is always a difficult factor for both patients and clinicians working in the substance abuse treatment and addiction area. This is because the best drug and alcohol rehabs want to give patients every possible advantage to achieve sobriety, and medical care from professionals has costs associated with it that are unavoidable. In a previous article this week, we discussed the fact that AA and NA meetings are free, but if you or your loved one has severe substance use disorder, medical care is likely the best first option for getting clean and sober. For those people who are without insurance coverage, any medical care beyond free AA meetings will have to be budgeted and planned for. Today we will discuss the best first steps for people facing these situations for the first time.

Finding Rehabilitation Options Without Insurance

In most cases, if a person does not have medical insurance, we can assume that the person also does not have a lot of money in the bank. Certainly, most of the best drug and alcohol treatment facilities are willing to take cash for services if a person can afford it, but we must assume that many uninsured people do not have large amounts of money to spend on treatment. For our purposes here today, we will also assume that uninsured people do not have Medicare or Medicaid coverage. Finding good treatment options on a Medicare plan can be difficult, but we will cover that topic in an upcoming article, and we will soon be adding a section on this website that covers different insurers including federal medical insurance plans like Medicare.

The key to finding good treatment options without insurance or expensive cash payments is timing and diligent information gathering. I will discuss the exact steps that a person in that circumstance can begin taking the moment that substance abuse treatment becomes the best option for you or your loved one. Most major cities in the United States, and even many rural and suburban areas, have treatment options that are free or near free. The only drawback to these low-cost options is the fact that most beds (places for patients to stay during rehab) are taken most of the time. There are many more people needing treatment at any given time than there are programs to serve them. As an example, for this story I was able to contact a free program in Chicago, and a very low-cost option in Indianapolis. The free option in Chicago had a long waiting list, but I was told that beds could become available at any time. The low-cost option in Indianapolis had an open bed when I called. When I say low-cost, I mean incredibly low cost in comparison to other in-patient rehab programs for drug and alcohol abuse patients. The program I found in Indianapolis is under 200 dollars for a 10-day stay, which can be extended. Comparable private insurance options would cost thousands of dollars for a similar stay, up to 10,000 to 60,000 dollars.

Charitable and Religious Facilities

In many cases, some charitable organization is covering the rest of the cost for a person’s treatment. Many of these organizations are connected to religious organizations, but these facilities do not require that a patient has any type of religious affiliation, but the treatment program may often include some spiritual or religious education as a small portion of the treatment. The Salvation Army runs drug and alcohol treatment programs around the United States, and they are a Christian organization. This could be a positive aspect for Christians who need treatment, but from what I have learned non-Christians would not be proselytized to in these programs, and the treatment regimen includes the same medical treatment and medical personnel found at many non-religious facilities. I have, in the past, had some critiques of Salvation Army facilities, but considering the cost of their programs, they can be a great option for many people with limited financial resources.

The Catholic church is responsible for many large hospital networks in the United States. Those hospital chains will often include some connected drug and alcohol treatment facilities in the same networks. People who are looking for drug and alcohol treatment without insurance should contact hospitals and ask for information on drug and alcohol treatment. Tell the person that you speak with that you are uninsured, and many times charitable or religious organizations will have programs in place to help. I found a large Catholic hospital on the north side of Chicago that had a drug and alcohol treatment program that was free or low-cost depending on a person’s income, this was a different facility than the other Chicago program I mentioned above. If the Salvation Army is active in your area, that should be your next call. Even though a Salvation Army rehab may not be close to your home, if you find an open bed a few hundred miles away, it can make sense to make that trip if you are able to save thousands of dollars, that you don’t have, and receive comparable treatment.

Let’s discuss these first steps once more.

  1. Call large hospital chains in your area, including religious affiliated hospitals
  2. Call the salvation army in your area
  3. Search for inpatient rehab facilities in your area, and inquire about free or low-cost options
  4. Make a list of who you have contacted
  5. Get on every available waiting list, including long waiting lists. Beds become available all the time, and there are many great people working in addiction treatment who may be able to help!

By T.A. Cannon (Contact me at