how to pay for drug rehab without insurance

It’s no surprise that a great many struggling addicts and alcoholics aren’t exactly flush with cash or great health benefits, so how to pay for drug rehab without insurance is often a conundrum.

Because of those challenges, a great many individuals who need drug and alcohol treatment don’t get it. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, “Among people aged 12 or older in 2019, 7.8 percent (or 21.6 million people) needed substance use treatment in the past year.” However, the report adds: “Among people aged 12 or older in 2019, 1.5 percent (or 4.2 million people) received any substance use treatment in the past year.”

When broken down by the type of treatment, the problem of how to pay for drug rehab without insurance becomes even clearer: Of those 4.2 million, only “1 million received treatment at a rehabilitation facility as an inpatient.” In other words, only 4.6 percent of the 21.6 million Americans who needed treatment for a drug or alcohol problem in 2019 actually got what they needed at a drug and alcohol rehab center.

That doesn’t mean that such facilities are off the table for those who need them — it just means that alternative sources of funding should be considered to get them that help, and a qualified drug and alcohol treatment facility has the means to help them navigate those hurdles.

How to Pay for Drug Rehab Without Insurance: Alternative Financing

If you’re looking for how to pay for drug rehab without insurance, start with the basics. So you don’t have health insurance — what sort of shape are your finances in? That may seem like a ridiculous question for a lot of addicts and alcoholics, many of whom have hit rock bottom, or are well on their way, before they realize it’s time to seek help. But while your bank account may be in the red, your ability to finance addiction treatment may not be entirely out of the question. Consider:

  • What about alternative forms of financing? Maybe you have a 401(k), for example: According to FINRA, “a government-authorized not-for-profit organization that oversees U.S. broker-dealers,” “You may be able to tap into your 401(k) plan assets during a financial emergency … while not all plans permit loans, many do. And with most plans, you repay your loan through payroll deductions so you're unlikely to fall behind as long as you remain employed.” There are pros and cons, of course, to borrowing from your 401(k), from basic fees and interest rates, but you’re essentially “borrowing your own money,” and look at it this way: If you’re struggling with a drug and alcohol problem that’s endangering your health, using that money to get the help you need for a problem that might cost you your life should be a priority.
  • What about a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)? According to U.S. News and World Report, “If you have enough equity in your home — about 15 to 30 percent — you may qualify to take out a loan or line of credit using the property as collateral. The funds can pay for anything, including medical bills.” It’s a risky venture, because if you can’t keep up with payments, you risk losing your home … but again, that’s a risk that needs to be weighed against an alcohol or drug habit that could very well cost you your home anyway.
  • No one wants to think about credit card debt, but just in case the point has been hammered home enough: We’re talking about a problem that is endangering your health and, in some cases, threatening your life. For that reason alone, considering a credit card may be the way to go, according to the financial resource website The Simple Dollar: “Credit cards provide instant access to funds. In some cases, you can also get rewards credit cards that provide spending rewards, including cash rewards, that can help offset rehab costs. There are also credit cards that are available specifically for medical expenses. Medical credit cards work just like other types of credit cards, but they may only be able to be used for medical purchases with a single provider.”
  • What about a medical loan? According to the financial website Nerd Wallet, “Medical loans — which are unsecured personal loans applied toward medical expenses — can be used to consolidate existing medical debt, cover emergency or planned medical procedures like root canals or plastic surgery, or pay for high deductibles and out-of-network charges.” There’s a catch — you must have excellent credit, the website advises, which means that specific medical loans should be a last resort.

How to Pay for Drug Rehab Without Insurance: Private Pay Options

how to pay for drug rehab without insuranceWhile financing drug and alcohol treatment through the benefits offered by a health insurance plan is always preferable, that’s not always an option. And many struggling addicts and alcoholics aren’t ready to admit they have a problem and seek help for it until they face an inordinate amount of consequences, including financial ones. But while their own cashflow may be nonexistent, that doesn’t mean there aren’t options to raising the money needed, especially if they’re trying to figure out how to pay for drug rehab without insurance.

Take, for example, borrowing money from family. According to the financial website The Balance, there are family loans — “a loan that does not use a bank, a credit union, or another traditional lender that’s outside of the family.” It’s important to note, the website points out, that a loan is a different financial animal than a gift, because in order to qualify under the law, market interest rates need to apply, and terms must be set forth. A gift, on the other hand, is the transfer of “money to your family member without the expectation of getting something of equal value in return.” Yet another option: co-signing for a loan from a financial institution, in which “your income and credit might be sufficient to help them get the loan.”

It's understandable that approaching family members for help might be seen as a last resort, one that a great many addicts and alcoholics, struggling though they might be, are reluctant to pursue. After all, there’s a great deal of shame, regret and embarrassment associated with addiction, and because of the actions and choices made while under the influence, many loved ones may not be willing to help. However, we’re talking about your life here, and regardless of whatever ill feelings may exist between family members, they probably would much prefer you alive to repair those relationships than for you to lose your life to drugs and alcohol.

And if nothing else, the online marketplace LendEDU has another suggesting: raising funds via social media. “Crowdfunding platforms, including GoFundMe and Indiegogo, allow individuals or organizations to raise funds for specific campaigns or initiatives. Crowdfunding campaigns may be used to help fund an individual need — such as covering the cost of drug rehabilitation — with help from friends, family, and local communities easily and quickly.”

Private pay options, incidentally, aren’t set in stone with most drug and alcohol treatment centers. By charging a bundled rate — meaning, all services are paid for in a lump sum on the front end — some drug and alcohol rehabs will offer a discount to those capable of doing so. For those who aren’t, there are payment plans that can be set up, meaning a deposit is paid in advance, and payments are made on a recurring basis to ease the outright financial burden. It’s important to understand that the overarching mission of a drug and alcohol treatment facility is to help suffering addicts and alcoholics, and while they’re all businesses that have to serve a bottom line, by and large many of them also serve a higher calling.

Breaking the bank of patients and their loved ones is not part of that calling. The best way to understand and navigate private pay options is to have a frank and open conversation with a representative of those facilities about what your options are, and how best you or your family members can pay for drug and alcohol treatment without a health insurance policy.

How Much Does It Cost, and What Does That Money Buy?

On the surface, it may be difficult to determine whether the price of such treatment is “worth” it, especially if you don’t know exactly what you’re getting for your money. By and large, most drug and alcohol treatment programs offer everything from a 3- to 5-day stay in a Medical Detox program, all the way up to a robust three-month comprehensive treatment package that includes 30 days of residential inpatient treatment, combined with 60 days of intensive outpatient treatment and residence in a Sober Living community.

According to the medical website WebMD, the average range of rehab costs are:

  • $250 – $800 per day for 30-day drug detox
  • $1,400 – $10,000 for 3 months of outpatient care
  • $3,000 – $10,000 for a 30-day intensive outpatient program
  • $5,000 - $80,000 for residential treatment, depending on the length of stay

That’s a lot of money — but in figuring out how to pay for drug rehab without insurance, don’t let the “sticker shock” make you shut down and give up before truly understanding what that money buys. Medical detoxification, including room and board, meals, medical supervision and the medications necessary to slowly, safely and comfortably wean you off of alcohol and drugs. Thirty days in a semi-private room with three meals a day, plus counseling, therapy, access to psychiatric services for dual diagnosis treatment of co-occurring mental health issues like depression and much, much more. Access, in some cases, to an on-campus fitness center and an on-campus ropes course as part of activity therapy. All of these services combined in one facility would cost several times those amounts if obtained individually, so in reality, these prices are actually a bargain.

It may not seem like it at first, but consider, too, that all of these services are ultimately buying one thing: A new way to live. Alcohol and drugs strip individuals of everything — jobs, families, careers, and even lives, and recovery from those substances involves so much more than stopping the use of them. Recovery is about learning, in a relatively short period of time, a way to deal with trauma … addressing unresolved issues … finding new coping skills … developing new attitudes and habits … and preparing to handle life’s challenges without resorting to substances in order to cope.

Is there really a price tag that can be put on such freedom?

It’s understandable that figuring out how to pay for drug rehab without insurance is both complex and frustrating, but it can be done, sometimes with resources you may not have considered. The most important thing you can do? Make that first phone call to a facility that can help you explore your options, find a way to get you in the door, or help refer you to facilities that can meet your recovery needs while also meeting your financial limitations.

Recovery shouldn’t be off the table for anyone, and determining how to pay for drug rehab without insurance isn’t something you have to do alone. The help you or a loved one needs, however, can’t be obtained unless you’re at first willing to reach out and explore your options.