Everybody agrees more has to be done about the epidemic abuse of alcohol, opioids, and other drugs and substances. Unfortunately, of the 27 million people who abused drugs in 2015, and the 66 million who admitted to binge drinking in the previous month, only 10 percent received any type of specialty treatment for their drug or alcohol abuse. More than 40 percent of drug and alcohol abusers also have a mental illness, and fewer than half of those receive any treatment for either state.
Cost is at least part of the reason. Treatment for drug addiction is as much as $10,000 for 90 days of outpatient treatment or $20,000 for 30 days of residential inpatient treatment. Even with the mental health and alcohol and drug addiction treatment benefits mandated for most health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), many people feel they can’t afford recovery treatment for their drug or alcohol addiction.
While it can be difficult to find, financial help for drug and alcohol rehab treatment may be available through scholarships and grants from nonprofit organizations, federal, state, and local governments, and even some drug and alcohol rehab facilities.
Looking for Scholarships for Alcohol and Drug Addiction Rehab Treatment
Finding alcohol or drug abuse rehab treatment is far easier if the cost of treatment isn’t an issue. The least painful option is if your employer or health insurance provider covers alcohol and drug addiction treatment and mental health rehab treatment, or if you or your family have savings to cover the cost of drug rehab treatment. Recovery from addiction is as important as any other life-saving medical procedure; without recovery, you may die. That’s worth breaking open the piggy bank.
If not, there are other options, including government assistance and scholarships.
Where to Find Scholarships for Alcohol and Drug Addiction Rehab Treatment
- Federal: Unless you’re a veteran, a child in the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) or similar program, or on Medicaid, you’re not likely to find alcohol or drug addiction treatment rehab help directly from the U.S. government, especially on the federal level. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) can help you find a facility, and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s Essential Health Benefits requires most plans to offer some treatment for alcohol and drug abuse treatment, but the federal government prefers to make block grants to each U.S. state.
- State: The U.S. states, in turn, take federal block grants for alcohol and drug abuse rehab treatments, but how each state disburses the grants depends on the state. Some states award scholarships or state grants to individuals or organizations, while another U.S. state might use the block grants to create and pay for new or bigger or better rehab facilities. To find out if your state offers scholarships, grants, or other forms of rehab treatment assistance, possibly in a state-run addiction facility, find your state’s administrator and contact information in SAMHSA’s Directory of Single State Agencies (SSA) for Substance Abuse Services.
- Local: Your state department of health and human services also may have information on alcohol and drug abuse recovery and payment assistance by your local government—city, town, county—but your best bet is to call your city government yourself.
- Nonprofits: Some charitable organizations and foundations provide partial or full scholarships to outside drug and alcohol rehab treatment facilities. The nonprofit 10,000 Beds) provides full scholarships for qualified applicants, pending a qualification process, the availability of beds, and the rehab facilities’ evaluations. It’s not a streamlined or fast process to obtain such scholarships, but in 2017 the nonprofit awarded $2.5 million in scholarships, and plans to double that amount for scholarships in 2018. Other private organizations provide scholarships to cover the cost of drug and alcohol rehab treatment to aid in recovery.
- Churches: Some private foundations, nonprofit organizations, churches, and religious organizations sometimes help provide or pay for alcohol or drug abuse rehab treatment. The Salvation Army provides a recovery program to combat addiction that offers no-fee rehab “through holistic work therapy, group and individual counseling sessions, spiritual direction, and life-skills development.”
- Alcohol and Drug Abuse Rehab Treatment Centers: Many recovery centers have access to partial scholarships or are otherwise committed to working with your needs and your ability to pay. Maybe they will offer a payment plan that fits your budget. It could be time-consuming to find scholarships and other recovery assistance, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.
- Low-Cost or No-Cost Treatment Alternatives: Twelve-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) don’t offer medical facilities or professional counseling, just the wisdom and experience of its members who have gone through or are still going through the same alcohol and drug addiction recovery process as you. It’s not nothing, and it may be enough to get you through the dark night of the soul. Best of all, such programs are free.
How to Qualify for Scholarships for Alcohol and Drug Addiction Rehab Treatment
Resources are limited for alcohol and drug abuse rehab treatment, and not just scholarships and other forms of financial aid for treatment. If everybody who needed treatment services went looking for them at the same time, there would not be enough trained addiction specialists, rehab centers, or beds to accommodate them all. For that reason, scholarships and other forms of financial assistance for recovery treatment are usually awarded based on some established criteria, such as:
- You need rehab treatment for alcohol or drug abuse. Not all substance use or even abuse is addiction. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stop using.
- You want to get better and find a state of recovery. If you’re only seeking drug rehab treatment as a condition of keeping your job or staying out of jail but don’t really mean it, you’re just taking up space and treatment resources that someone else could use.
- You don’t have sufficient insurance or resources to cover treatment, and neither do your family or friends.
- You are willing and able to stay in rehab. Many scholarships require that you complete the treatment program or the recovery center doesn’t get paid. Whether you seek outpatient treatment or inpatient treatment, you will not reach a state of recovery in a day or two. If you need to detox from alcohol or drugs first, that treatment could take a week by itself. If a weekend is all you can spare, recovery is unlikely anyway. For drug addiction recovery, 30 days of inpatient rehab treatment is usually the bare minimum.
The U.S. surgeon general’s 2016 report Facing Addiction in America found that “[w]ell-supported scientific evidence shows that addiction to alcohol or drugs is a chronic brain disease,” which means that addicts aren’t morally weak or criminal, just sick. They need recovery treatment to control their illness, as do people with diabetes or high blood pressure, not prison time.
Treating drug addicts as criminals hasn’t worked. Drug testing hasn’t worked. Restricting the prescription of highly addictive painkillers not only hasn’t worked — it only punishes the law-abiding citizen who’s in pain — but had the unexpected consequence of increasing trafficking in more lethal replacements such as heroin and fentanyl. Providing scholarships and other forms of assistance for drug and alcohol rehab treatment may be better ways to treat addiction and promote recovery.