Can't afford alcohol rehab

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People who can't afford alcohol addiction treatment have free and low-cost options at their disposal. Some of the free options include NHS rehab services for those in the U.K.

In the UK, some funding for rehab services are available for those who can't afford rehab. 

What you need to do first is figure out what type of rehabilitation services you need. For example, do you need inpatient or outpatient services?

Outpatient care is cheaper, but it may not suit you, depending on your treatment needs. 

Outpatient treatment offers various services such as medication-assisted detox, counselling sessions, a variety of therapies and support.

This treatment plan provides medical advice and solutions for successful recovery without requiring you to stay in a rehab facility. 

There are similarities between outpatient and inpatient treatment options. But outpatient is not as intensive as an inpatient. With inpatient, you get 24/7 professional care.

In addition, the supportive community in specialist alcohol rehab treatment facilities increases your chances for recovery. 

Not everyone can successfully recover by attending outpatient services. Some suffer from addiction plus other health problems, particularly mental illness. Most people struggling with addiction avoid inpatient because of the cost of rehab. 

Those who need inpatient care have several financing options. First, they can pay using insurance as many insurance companies offer a cover for substance abuse.

If you lack insurance or are underinsured and lack funds, there are other financing options you can try out. 

How to Afford Alcohol Rehab 

One way you can afford alcohol rehab is by signing up for NHS rehab services which are free. Your first step is to visit your GP for an assessment. Your GP will determine which addiction treatment services are ideal for you. 

Your GP may recommend counselling and ongoing rehabilitation support. They may also prescribe medication to help you through the withdrawal process and assign an addiction counsellor to guide you through other therapies. 

The NHS also funds inpatient treatment. However, getting this support is extremely hard as there's usually a long waiting list, and it would take months, if not years, before your case is considered. 

You can check out the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website for referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups and community-based organizations that offer alcoholism treatment at highly subsidized rates. 

You need to get in touch with your state or local mental health or substance abuse agency. Enquire about local drug or alcohol rehab options that are either free or suit your budget. 

Alternatively, you can check SAMHSA's directory for substance abuse services to find treatment centres that can be accessed without insurance or income.

However, these centres have certain requirements that you must meet to get access to treatment, e.g., you may need to prove a lack of income and a need for intervention. 

The NIAA Alcohol Treatment navigator offers useful links to affordable rehab centres that offer evidence-based treatment.

In addition, the site offers information about accepted health insurance plans, other payment options, and ways to pay for addiction treatment (e.g., credit cards) [1]. 

Most people with addiction problems seek the help of local support groups such as: 

  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). You can attend a physical meeting or join their online support group. 
  • SMART Recovery. Assists young people and adults with drug and alcohol addiction through group therapy sessions. You can attend their meetings in person or online. 
  • SOS (Secular Organizations for Sobriety) support groups. A non-profit network of autonomous, non-professional local groups dedicated to helping people suffering from drug and alcohol addiction maintain sobriety. 
  • Salvation Army. This church has been helping people in need of addiction treatment for over 150 years. They offer a six-month addiction treatment programme for free. 
  • Narcotics Anonymous. Offers support for those in need of drug treatment. This support group uses the 12-steps approach that's also used for alcohol addiction treatment in AA. 

Some opt for self-help approaches to treatment. There are a lot of resources available to help you manage alcohol treatment. You can learn about different self-help techniques and settle for one that works for you.

There are also great books out there and success stories that can inspire you. However, it is advisable to consult your GP so that they can give you medication to manage the withdrawal symptoms, especially if you're heavily addicted. 

You can opt for online rehab [2], which offers two types of treatments that can be completed online. One treatment programme entails one-hour sessions that run for 28 consecutive days.

The second programme is a recovery session that helps you maintain sobriety. 

You can seek out other payment options for rehab. They include: 

a). Scholarships 

You can get alcohol and drug rehab scholarships to cover rehab costs. These scholarships are awarded on a "per need" basis and can give you full or partial funding for treatment.

You can begin by checking out websites such as or You can also research corporations or private rehabs in your area and inquire if they offer scholarships. 

b). Seek help from friends and family members. 

Addiction affects not only the addict but also their friends and family members. You may find that friends and family members are willing to help with the rehab cost.

Once you admit that you have a problem and need help, your friends and family members may be willing to help you raise money for rehab. 

c). Loans 

There are a variety of loans out there, including ones designed especially for substance abuse treatment. If you seek addiction treatment, but the costs are a financial burden, you can take out a loan. You should view the loan as an investment in your future. 

Numerous studies show that quality treatment increases the chances for long-term sobriety. Although you may feel that this option is not financially sound, you stand to lose more in buying the drugs or alcohol. 

d). Fundraising 

You can set up a personal fundraising platform to raise money for addiction treatment. You can check out sites such as to help you start a fundraiser. 

e). Payment Agreements 

You may find a rehab centre that offers affordable payment arrangements. The facility may allow you to make payments in instalments; for instance, they may agree to monthly payments, which may be automatically withdrawn from your account.

Alternatively, you may opt for a graduated payment plan where payments rise incrementally over time. 

Sliding fees is another payment option that can help you pay for rehab. 

f). Healthcare Credit 

Healthcare credit was created to help cover for costs of treatment. Depending on your credit score, you may use it to afford rehab. You may get funds to cover either part of your treatment or the whole of it.

On the downside, this option comes with high-interest rates. However, some programmes offer a promotional interest-free period if you complete the balance within a certain period. 

g). You can sell your stuff 

You can downsize and sell most of your stuff at a yard sale to pay for treatment. You can advertise some of your expensive stuff online to make a profit. 

h). You can use your personal credit card to pay for treatment. 

This option requires you to carefully plan your finances as credit cards come with high-interest rates. But if you can handle the expenses, you can use it. 

Kicked out of Rehab 

There are many reasons why you can get kicked out of rehab. One of the reasons is failing to follow the rules. Most drug and alcohol treatment centres have rules designed to keep you safe and prevent relapse.

Some of the rules include: 

  • No sneaking alcohol into the facility 
  • Attend all scheduled activities 
  • No use of cell phones or computers 
  • Sexual relations are prohibited 
  • No romantic relationships 
  • Do not bring reading materials unless they are recovery-related or spiritually based 
  • Repeatedly failing a drug test and so on 

One may look at these rules from the outside and feel that it's unwarranted to kick someone out of rehab centre for failing to abide by these rules. 

But these rules matter as they help the residents focus on addiction treatment. The rules help people focus on recovery and respect boundaries. 

It's not easy for a treatment facility to kick a client out. What happens is that the client may lose privileges or get a strict warning. The decision to kick out a client depends on the seriousness of the situation. 

Most rehab centres will expel a client when they feel that they cannot be trusted to abide by the rules. A client who is not committed to staying on the path to recovery will be asked to leave the treatment facility.

That said, when kicked out of rehab, most facilities will provide alternatives. For example, they could connect the client with local community support groups such as AA. 

It's difficult for you to get kicked out by a treatment provider because you've failed to cover the cost of rehab. However, many treatment centres offer payment assistance for people whose insurance doesn't cover the full cost of the treatment programmes.

For instance, a rehab centre may support you by providing you with private financing through their network of lenders. 

If you're uninsured, some facilities will require payment upfront or offer other payment options; for instance, they can accommodate your budget and require you to pay at a sliding fee.

In addition, many treatment centres offer job assistance so that if you're unemployed, you can decide to pay for treatment once you get a job. 

The cost of rehab varies, with some treatment programmes offering alcohol addiction treatment for free and others cost thousands of dollars. However, people struggling with drug addiction or alcohol can get treatment no matter their budget.

There's always assistance available; for instance, Obamacare and Medicaid offer some type of substance abuse coverage. Also, the Affordable Care Act mandates health insurance providers to give some form of substance abuse coverage. 

State and government-funded programmes are an ideal option for those who cannot afford residential treatment. 

Does Insurance Cover Alcohol Rehab? 

Around 22.7 million people need help for overcoming alcohol addiction. Sadly, 89% of them cannot get the help they need.

For most people who need it, the cost of alcohol addiction treatment is the primary barrier. As a result, many people ask the famous question, “does insurance cover alcohol rehab”?

YES! Insurance does cover alcohol rehab. You can reach out to your insurance provider to determine whether your insurance coverage caters for the full treatment or partial.

In addition, you can find a health insurance company that offers a comprehensive cover for residential treatment. 

Following the Affordable Care Act’s passing in 2010, health insurance providers are forced to offer coverage for inpatient behavioural therapy, counselling, and addiction treatment. 

Most people pay for rehab costs using insurance. However, in the event of a job loss, you can check if you're eligible for COBRA ((Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act).

COBRA provides employees and their families the opportunity to continue with the group health coverage they previously had when they were employed for a limited amount of time.

You become eligible for COBRA by going for insurance that's covered by COBRA [2]. 

To conclude 

Proper treatment is a definite way of ensuring that you stay sober. You don't need a lot of money to go for treatment in the best facilities as there are many affordable, accredited facilities with treatment options that suit your budget. 

You can search for the best treatment options near you by searching online. Type your state, county or city and search for low-cost local addiction treatment programmes.

If you urgently need care (for instance, you feel like you may relapse or overdose), you can search for a local crisis hotline and reach out immediately. 

Most people cover rehab costs using insurance coverage. Health insurance covers drug rehab and alcohol addiction care.

But the insurance coverage depends on many factors, and it would help if you reached out to your insurance company to find out your options. 

If you lack insurance, other resources can help you cover the cost of treatment, such as taking out a loan or getting a scholarship.

In addition, you can consult your treatment provider to find out the best way to cover the cost of drug and alcohol rehab. 

That said, money is not a reason to fail to go for substance abuse treatment. You can contact your preferred alcohol or drug rehab centre to explore your financing options. 

About the author

Laura Morris

Laura Morris is an experienced clinical practitioner and CQC Registered Manager with over twenty years experience, over ten of which have been as an Independent Nurse Prescriber.

She has held a number of senior leadership roles in the substance use and mental health sector in the NHS, the prison service and in leading social enterprises in the field.

Last Updated: January 11, 2024