If you are struggling with a drug or alcohol problem and need treatment, don’t let money stand in the way of getting the help you need. Although many treatment centers for substance abuse are private pay or insurance-pay only, there are a number that also offer free or low-cost treatment. They do this on the basis of grants and scholarships. Some even have available financing. So, how do you go about finding free drug and alcohol treatment? Here are some tips.
Research National and State Databases
Start by researching what’s available on a state-by-state basis using the facility locator at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) site. Part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the SAMHSA substance abuse facility locator is a searchable directory of drug and alcohol treatment programs available around the nation. These listed facilities – more than 11,000 – treat alcoholism, alcohol abuse and drug abuse.
Treatment facilities include residential centers, outpatient treatment programs, and inpatient hospital programs and also include treatment for marijuana, heroin and cocaine addiction and programs for drug and alcohol treatment for adults and adolescents.
While not every listed drug and alcohol treatment facility will offer free treatment programs, the list serves as a useful starting point.
In addition, once you click on the locator by state, enter the city and state (required), and your search will deliver the number of facilities within 100 miles of your starting point. You can also enter the zip code and street address, if you know it. Here’s how it works: Click on the state, California, in this example. Enter the city of Los Angeles in the search criteria and it brings up 500 facilities within 100 miles.
• First on the list is the Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic Drug Dependence Treatment Program. Among the payment forms accepted are self-pay, private insurance, Medicare and military insurance. But the VA program also offers payment assistance (check with facility for details).
• Community/Family Counseling Programs, a couple listings down, offers outpatient substance abuse treatment for adolescents and criminal justice clients on a self-pay or assistance on a sliding-pay scale.
• New Beginnings has outpatient and partial hospitalization/day treatment services covering substance abuse with special programs for adolescents and individuals with co-occurring substance abuse and mental health disorders. New Beginnings accepts self-payment and also offers a sliding fee scale (based on income and other factors) and payment assistance (check with facility for details).
• Alcoholism Center for Women Inc., Miracle House Residential, provides residential long-term (30 days) treatment for women with substance abuse and also women with co-occurring substance abuse and mental health disorders. Alcoholism Center for Women Inc. also operates an outpatient center providing substance abuse treatment for women and adolescents in another location. Both facilities are self-pay and both also offer payment assistance (check with facility for details).
Another search method is SAMHSA List Search, which can be used to find facilities in a specific city, county, in one or more zip codes, one or more states, the entire U.S., or to search for a facility by its name (or part of its name).
A listing of State Substance Abuse Agencies is also available. Each listing contains the name, address, phone and fax numbers, email contact address and agency website URL. Taking California as an example again, clicking on the state’s Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs website brings you to a home page with links to a great deal of information. Click on the Treatment tab at the top of the page and you come to another page with links on Find Treatment Help, Resource Center, Youth Services, Women’s Programs, Driving Under the Influence, Co-Occurring Disorders, Problem Gambling and Contacts. Find Treatment Help lists hotline phone numbers, county programs, resource center, print directories and a link to Treatment Works. The latter is the Alcohol and Drug Program’s (ADP) online directory that can help provide information on 2000 treatment and recovery programs in California’s 58 counties (private, public and not-for-profit programs).
Make a List of Facilities
After checking through the SAMHSA and state databases, make a list of drug and alcohol treatment facilities that offer payment assistance or sliding-scale pay programs. Then, start checking them out on the Internet. Read through the About Us pages, compare the treatment programs, and see if you find several that you’d like more information on. Then call or email them (although a phone call is quicker and you can get more information that way) and start the ball rolling. Be sure to ask upfront about the payment assistance or sliding scale programs and any eligibility criteria.
Perhaps your clergyman or physician can provide a referral to a substance abuse treatment facility that specializes in your type of addiction – and also offers payment assistance. It always helps to have someone in your corner so that you’re not approaching a facility cold. They can, in effect, pave the way. Sometimes personal recommendations make the difference between your being able to get into a facility that usually doesn’t take (or takes very few) of these clients. Use your contacts to your best advantage. Remember, the goal is to get into free or low-cost treatment for drug and/or alcohol problems.
Other Avenues of Assistance
Although it’s not treatment, until you can get into treatment for drug and/or alcohol problems, don’t discount the various 12-step groups that are available to you. Whether it’s Alcoholics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, Crystal Meth Anonymous, Marijuana Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, or any of several others, participation is always free and membership is open to anyone who is serious about overcoming their addiction and living a drug- and alcohol-free life. Most 12-step organizations offer both land and either online or chat meetings (or both). Most are available in one form or another in nearly every U.S. state as well as some international locations.
What goes on at meetings? You can get a good idea by viewing what’s posted on the site, but many 12-step meetings follow similar formats. The meetings