Getting Drug Withdrawal Treatment Without Health Insurance

Getting Drug Withdrawal Treatment Without Health Insurance

Withdrawal is a series of physical and mental symptoms that can occur when someone abruptly stops or reduces drug or alcohol use.1 The intensity, duration, and type of withdrawal symptoms can vary depending on the specific drug. These symptoms can range from mildly uncomfortable to intensely painful and even fatal.

Detox and other forms of withdrawal treatment can help minimize pain and discomfort during stimulant and opioid withdrawal. In cases of alcohol and sedative withdrawal, treatment can also closely monitor and treat any dangerous withdrawal symptoms – which  can reduce the risk of complications and death.

The good news is that finding affordable withdrawal treatment is possible, even for people without health insurance. Read on to learn more about types of treatment, costs, and how to find detox if you don’t have insurance.

How Much Does Drug Withdrawal Treatment Cost?

The cost of drug and alcohol withdrawal treatment can vary depending on several factors, including:

  • Type of program.
  • Type of services and amenities offered.
  • Duration of stay.
  • Frequency of attendance (for outpatient programs).
  • Location.
  • Staff-to-client ratio.

The type of withdrawal treatment program has a significant effect on the cost: 5

  • Medical detox centers monitor and treat withdrawal symptoms either in a hospital or other medical facility. Detox centers typically offer brief treatment for the duration of withdrawal and may recommend another facility to continue addiction treatment. Medical detox centers typically cost $300 to $800 or more per day.
  • Inpatient or residential treatment programs provide therapy, counseling, medication, and other treatment services. Inpatient programs allow people to reside in a drug and alcohol-free environment staffed with medical and addiction professionals. Inpatient and residential programs may range from $2,000 to $25,000 or more for a 30-day stay. Some programs incorporate detox into the treatment program.
  • Outpatient treatment programs provide therapy and support for several hours per week. These programs may supervise detox. Partial hospitalization programs (PHP) offer treatment for 4 to 6 hours per day, up to 5 days per week. Intensive outpatient programs (IOP) offer treatment for 2 to 4 hours per day, up to 3 days per week. Outpatient treatment programs may range from little to no cost up to $10,000 or more per month.

Free or low-cost detox and addiction programs may also be available in local community health centers, churches, or nonprofit organizations. Unfortunately, many of these programs may have long waiting lists because of the high demand for low-cost treatment. You can add your name to the waiting list and call often to see if there is space available.

How to Get Immediate Treatment Without Insurance

If you’re at risk of suicide, overdose, dangerous withdrawal, or if you have other health issues that require immediate attention, it is most important that you seek treatment. Treatment programs may be able to set you up with insurance once you begin or can treat you without health insurance.

Some drug and alcohol users may be at high risk of medical complications and/or death and require immediate treatment. These situations should be taken seriously:

  • Withdrawal symptoms. Abruptly stopping or reducing alcohol, benzodiazepines, and other sedatives can lead to dangerous withdrawal symptoms, such as delirium tremens and seizures, which may be fatal.1
  • Recent overdose. Fatal overdose may occur while using opioids such as heroin, alcohol, and prescription drugs, including barbiturates.1
  • Severe depression and suicidal thoughts. The risk for suicide may increase during stimulant withdrawal.1 

Finding affordable addiction or withdrawal treatment is possible even without health insurance. Each state has its own mental health and substance abuse program that oversees the treatment programs in that state. These programs may be able to take you without insurance if you are in a crisis situation.

  • To find your state or county’s local programs, conduct an internet search by typing in the name of your state or county with “mental health” or “substance abuse program.”
  • To determine if a state or county website is legitimate, look for websites that end in “.gov.”
  • Call the number listed on the site. Every state is different, and you may have to enter your zip code to be routed to the most appropriate person.
  • When doing an internet search of local treatment programs, be sure to keep a pen and paper handy to take notes.

If you are experiencing an urgent crisis, you can locate your local crisis hotline by searching for the name of your state or county along with “crisis hotline.”

Specialized programs are also available for people who are:

  • Homeless.
  • Pregnant.
  • Elderly.
  • Under age 18.
  • Struggling with medical or mental health issues.

These people may be able to access treatment sooner. People in crisis situations may also be able to access treatment immediately or the next day. When speaking with a treatment representative, be sure to discuss your current situation and ask about specialized programs.

How Do I Sign Up for Insurance?

The first step in signing up for health insurance is to find out whether you’re eligible for Medicare or Medicaid.

Medicare and Medicaid

  • Medicare is a federal program that offers health insurance for people who have severe disabilities or are age 65 or older. You can sign up here.
  • Medicaid is a state and federal program for people with low incomes who cannot afford other types of health insurance. Some people may have both Medicare and Medicaid. To find out whether you qualify for Medicaid and/or to apply for coverage, visit this site. If you have children, you are pregnant, or you have a disability, your state will likely have coverage options for you.

Medicare is divided into different parts that can help cover the costs of addiction treatment.2

  • Medicare Part A can help pay for inpatient addiction treatment. However, Medicare Part A will only cover a lifetime limit of up to 190 days of treatment in a specialized psychiatric hospital.
  • Medicare Part B may cover up to 80% of outpatient treatment costs.
  • Prescriptions, such as methadone, may be covered under Medicare Part D.

Medicare may cover the costs of methadone and buprenorphine during inpatient detox or hospital stays if they are prescribed by a Medicare-certified facility.3 However, Medicare does not cover medications prescribed on an outpatient basis.

Medicaid coverage for medication-assisted treatments, including methadone and buprenorphine (Suboxone), varies from state to state.3,4

The cost of methadone or Suboxone without insurance can vary depending on the specific drug and the dose. A quick survey of various American pharmacies revealed that 60 sublingual tabs of Suboxone range from $250 to $400. A supply of 60 sublingual tabs of generic buprenorphine cost between $100 and $200. Several different generic forms of methadone exist and range between $10 and $50 for 120 tablets.

The Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) can help provide insurance for people who are not eligible for Medicare or Medicaid. To learn more about this program and to sign up for health insurance, see the Affordable Care Act website.

You may apply for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act if you are a U.S. citizen or national, are currently living in the United States, and are not incarcerated. You cannot enroll in the Affordable Care Act if you have Medicare coverage.

Open enrollment is a period of time during which eligible people can apply for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act. Open enrollment typically begins in November of the previous year and ends in January of that year. For more information, see the Health Insurance Marketplace’s dates and deadlines.

Certain qualifying life events allow for enrolling outside of the open enrollment period. You may be able to enroll in health insurance during special enrollment periods if you have recently experienced one of the following:

  • Marriage
  • Birth or adoption
  • Attained U.S. citizenship
  • Lost previous health coverage
  • Moved to an area where new health plans are available

States may require proof of qualifying life events in order to enroll during a special enrollment period. To see if you qualify, visit the ACA website.

To enroll in the Affordable Care Act, go to the Healthcare Marketplace website.

The Affordable Care Act requires that most insurance companies, including Medicare and Medicaid, cover the basic costs of addiction treatment.4 It also guarantees that anyone applying for health insurance cannot be denied coverage because of pre-existing addiction or mental health issues.

Even though the Affordable Care Act mandates that insurance companies cover basic treatment, including therapy and counseling, insurance may not cover every type of addiction treatment or medication. However, treatment centers may be able to offer affordable services even without insurance by lowering the fee or offering a payment plan. Consider contacting a treatment center directly to find out whether these options are available.

Finance Your Care

You may also be able to finance detox treatment without health insurance. Payment options include:

  • Bank loans.
  • Borrowing from family or friends.
  • Borrowing from a personal savings or 401(k).
  • Credit cards, including health care credit cards.
  • Crowdfunding on platforms such as GoFundMe.
  • Developing a payment plan with a treatment program.


Getting a Professional Assessment

An assessment can help you determine whether your substance abuse is significant enough to warrant treatment. A professional assessment from a certified medical professional can help determine whether a person is in need of treatment and the level of care necessary. You or your loved one’s substance abuse may be significant enough to warrant treatment, but you may not necessarily need the most intensive (i.e., expensive) forms of detox.

Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) is an evidence-based approach that can help identify and reduce drug and alcohol abuse. The first component of SBIRT is a screening conducted by a healthcare professional. Screenings may occur in a doctor’s office, outpatient clinic, hospital, or other setting. The screening identifies if a person is abusing drugs or alcohol.

The second part of SBIRT is a brief intervention. The healthcare professional may provide feedback and advice by discussing his or her concerns about the person’s drug or alcohol use. If the healthcare provider determines that a person could benefit from help, then they may refer them to detox, inpatient, or outpatient treatment.

Finding Treatment

Below are some resources you can use to find treatment or get immediate help for a crisis.

  • SAMHSA’s Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator provides an online search of local substance abuse and mental health treatment programs in the United States. You can also call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). Representatives are available 24 hours a day and offer assistance in English and Spanish.
  • The Alcohol and Drug Helpline can assist with finding a treatment center regardless of age, income, or health insurance.
  • Boys Town National Hotline is a resource for children, teens, parents, and families in crisis. Counselors can communicate in English and Spanish and may assist with treatment referrals.
  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers free, confidential support and resources for people in distress. The Lifeline can be reached 24 hours a day at 1-800-273-(TALK) 8255.
  • The National Runaway Safe Line provides confidential crisis counseling and support. The Safe Line can be reached at 1-800-RUNAWAY.

Community Support

Community support groups can be a valuable addition to withdrawal treatment. Twelve-step support groups help members maintain sobriety by following the 12 steps developed by Alcoholics Anonymous. These programs are free to attend.

  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) focuses on recovery from alcohol addiction. AA offers face-to-face meetings in over 150 countries around the world. The goal of AA is to help members attain and maintain by developing a connection with a Higher Power and connecting with other members for support. Members are also encouraged to develop a list of past errors with the help of an experienced member, make amends for these errors, and pass along the message to newcomers.
  • Narcotics Anonymous (NA) is a popular 12-step group that helps people recovering from all drugs of abuse. Similar to AA, NA emphasizes spirituality and mutual support.
  • Cocaine Anonymous (CA) and Crystal Meth Anonymous (CMA) encourage abstinence from cocaine, crystal meth, and other mind-altering drugs using the same 12-step principles as AA and NA.

Alternative recovery support groups are also available. Unlike 12-step groups, these groups do not emphasize spirituality as a tool for sobriety.

  • SMART Recovery is a rapidly growing support group that offers face-to-face and online meetings. SMART Recovery meetings focus on teaching skills to help members maintain motivation for sobriety, cope with urges, manage thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and find lifestyle balance.
  • Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS) advocates that recovery from alcohol, drug, and food addiction can be achieved when a person makes sobriety the number one priority in life. SOS helps members by providing support in a secular, or nonreligious and nonspiritual, environment.
  • LifeRing Secular Recovery is a peer support group that emphasizes empowerment and personal growth. LifeRing helps members maintain abstinence using a secular approach.

Read next: Cost and Paying for Detox Programs

[1]. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2015). Detoxification and substance abuse treatment. Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 45. HHS Publication No. (SMA) 15-4131. Rockville, MD: Center for Substance Abuse Treatment.

[2]. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2016). Medicare and your mental health benefits.

[3]. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2015). Insurance and payments.

[4]. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2014). Medicaid coverage and financing of medications to treat alcohol and opioid use disorders. HHS Publication No. SMA-14-4854. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

[5]. These estimates are based on’s experience working with rehab centers around the country.