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Are State-Funded Drug And Alcohol Rehabilitation Programs Free?

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

Medically reviewed by

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

January 30, 2019

State-funded drug and alcohol rehab programs are available for people struggling with addiction who may be unable to afford treatment on their own. These treatment programs offer assistance that can save a life at little to no cost to the patient.

Sometimes, a person struggling with addiction cannot imagine going into a treatment center due to the perceived cost of substance abuse rehabilitation. This perception can lead to a number of failed attempts at getting clean, unpredictable cold-turkey techniques, using methods that are not recommended and possibly dangerous, and numerous relapses. Wanting sobriety and not being able to achieve that goal can lead to frustration, depression, and increase substance abuse.

There is a solution to that cycle of substance abuse for people who cannot afford to pay out-of-pocket for treatment. State-funded drug and alcohol rehab programs are available at little or no-cost for people who provide proof that they cannot pay for treatment.

What Is A State-Funded Rehabilitation Program?

A state-funded rehab program provides substance abuse and addiction services, which include detox, treatment, and support services, to individuals who otherwise would be unable to pay for these services. The program is financed through government funding that is provided by the state, using different budgets, grants, and Medicaid reimbursements.

As a state-run program, the guidelines and qualifications can be different from state-to-state. It is important to explore what options are available in the state that rehab treatment services are needed. Regardless of whether a person has qualified for other state services, treatment at a state-funded rehab facility may be an option for someone who struggles with drug or alcohol addiction.

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How To Qualify For A State-Funded Rehab Center

The funding available from the state can be different at the state and local levels. Checking those resources is an important first step. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offers a contact for these resources in each state, compiled into a list called the Directory of Single State Agencies for Substance Abuse Services. In addition to providing a contact at the state level, the directory also provides an online resource for most states that outline services available.

Once a person reaches out to these programs, an appointment is scheduled. This appointment explores substance abuse treatment options with the person, and they are typically asked to provide proof that they need assistance with funding for treatment. In most cases, people are asked to show:

  • proof of income (or lack of)
  • proof of residence (or lack of)
  • proof of legal residence
  • information about addiction (history and severity)

The information provided will help determine how much funding they will receive, what type of treatment is needed, if the person meets priority status, and how long they can receive services, so it is important to provide thorough and truthful information. When a person submits this information, and once they qualify for services, they can begin treatment if the facility has an opening.

How Long Does This Process Take?

Once a person provides the necessary information, the qualification process is not too time-consuming. However, a state-funded agency has limited funds, which can lead to a list of people waiting for treatment.

Waiting for substance abuse and addiction treatment is less than ideal, and because of this, many of these programs have outpatient and medical maintenance services for those who are waiting for a more in-depth treatment program.

Services Offered In State-Funded Rehab Programs

State-funded rehab programs tend to be straightforward, without any frills. Some services available include intensive inpatient programs, detox, medication maintenance, outpatient, and aftercare services.

While a state-funded rehab may not have the most up to date technology, or a spa-like feel of a private rehab program, these locations will offer evidence-based interventions in an appropriate environment with trained staff, as well as aftercare services once treatment is completed.

Other Options For People Who Cannot Afford To Pay For Treatment

State-funded drug and alcohol rehab programs are only one form of low-cost treatment options. Others include:


If a person has health insurance, finding a drug or alcohol abuse rehab center that is approved by the insurance company may mean calling the insurance provider and asking what facilities accept the policy they have. There may be copays or deductibles that need to be met depending on the policy, but insurance can help offset the cost of treatment. Some insurance providers offer health savings accounts (HSA) that can be applied towards treatment costs.

Sliding Scales

Many facilities offer a sliding fee scale, which requires patients to only pay what they can afford. This service is usually offered to people who are in need or services that have some form of income, and they are asked to pay a small percentage of their income toward their own treatment. These fees are usually used to cover the necessities of the patient, like food, medications, treatment materials, and staff.

Free Rehab Services From For-Profit Facilities

In 2012, SAMHSA conducted a survey and found that about half of all responding facilities offered affordable, cost effective, or free treatment for those who could not pay for services. Some of these facilities were for-profit, private rehabs (about 25 percent).


Some loan companies have special programs that offer funding for substance abuse treatment. These loans and financing options are set up for people who have the means to pay back the loan after treatment.

Grants And Scholarships

Some groups offer grants and scholarships for people who need treatment but are unable to afford it. This assistance may be offered through a private facility or institutions who are interested in helping people in need of treatment.

Where To Find State Funded Rehab Centers

Using the Directory of Single State Agencies for Substance Abuse Services available on SAMHSA’s website can help locate programs in each state that are funded through the state. This website also provides interactive web pages that allow a person to search for nearby rehab facilities. This search engine does not save the entered information, so it is anonymous.

There are several online resources that can help a person exploring low-cost, free, or other types of treatment options. Obtaining help with treatment costs can help lower the stress associated with finding a rehab that meets the many needs of a person struggling with substance abuse or addiction. We can help you find the right program for you or your loved one, and we are available today.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration - The Directory of Single State Agencies for Substance Abuse Services

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