Are There Free or Low-cost Drug and Alcohol Rehab Centers Near Me?

The single biggest obstacle between those in need of substance abuse treatment and admittance to an addiction treatment program tends to be the cost of treatment. For those with PPO insurance policies and financial means for copays, deductibles, and cash pay for treatment, options for getting into a drug and alcohol treatment center seem to be unlimited. For those without insurance and without financial means for cash payments, the disparity in what they are able to access is an atrocity that oftentimes results in the destruction of families, homelessness, and even death. It can be difficult to get someone struggling with addiction to be willing to check into treatment. The window of willingness to check in is oftentimes short-lived. It is imperative that those willing to get help find the help they need before they change their mind and end up lost in addiction.

Free Treatment for Addiction and Mental Health

In a perfect world, the same quality of care those with high-end insurance policies can access would be accessible for free for everyone willing to receive treatment. Many nonprofit organizations, government-funded entities, and faith-based organizations are doing what they can to provide this service to the public. Based on the prevalence of addiction and mental health issues rampant in America, it is obvious that these efforts are insufficient.

Low-Cost Drug and Alcohol Treatment

As mentioned later in this article, many of the nonprofit and government-funded treatment options wind up not being free. However, it is true that while the nonprofit or government-funded facilities may wind up costing hundreds to thousands of dollars, the for-profit high-end facilities tend to cost thousands to tens of thousands of dollars. Some low-cost or nonprofit treatment facilities provide subpar care due to corners being cut for costs in vital aspects such as medical staff and clinical staff.

It can be discovered by calling around diligently that some high-cost, for-profit treatment centers are willing to provide free and/or low-cost treatment to those without financial abilities and/or insurance to cover the cost of treatment. Sometimes the combined payments from other clients in their care can offset the facility’s cost of treatment for an individual in need and empower the higher-end facilities to provide a dramatically discounted rate. It is more common to find places willing to make arrangements like this when reaching out to smaller facilities. When calling a smaller facility, you may end up speaking to the owner when you call the admissions line, whereas when calling a major entity with many locations, the admissions line is typically operated by someone who has less of an ability to adjust rates through an understanding of the company’s budget.

Nonprofit Drug and Alcohol Treatment

Many nonprofit entities exist with the sole mission of providing free and accessible treatment for mental health and addiction. Some nonprofit organizations run the rehabilitation facilities themselves, some provide funding for treatment at a facility of your choice, and some provide funding for treatment at specific facilities they work with.

Targeting Specific Disadvantaged Populations

Typically, these nonprofit organizations target specific disadvantaged populations in their mission to provide support. There are many foundations that will limit intakes by gender, age, or other qualifying factors. Often times it is required that proof of low income be submitted as well.

Charle Street, First Step House, and McMillen house in Orange County provide free and low-cost treatment for alcohol addiction. The only contingency for treatment that they require is that it is for men only. They target alcohol addiction and are 12-step based.

Scholarship Treatment That Takes Time

Many nonprofit entities, such as To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA), offer treatment & recovery scholarship programs. TWLOHA welcomes those in need to submit an application for treatment and allows the applicant to provide details of the treatment facility they wish the foundation to fund treatment for them. Their website states that after submitting the application for free treatment, it can take 2-3 weeks to be approved. This is a fairly quick turnaround time compared to most other nonprofit entities offering scholarship programs for drug and alcohol treatment.

Quality of Care

Oftentimes, detox treatment provided by nonprofit entities that provide treatment themselves will not be medically supervised. Phoenix House, for example, is a foundation that operates over 130 drug and alcohol treatment centers, including detoxification services that are not medically supervised. This is actually a step above because most nonprofit addiction treatment services do not even address the need for the detoxification level of care.

Like Phoenix House, the above-mentioned Charle Street is a non-medication facility as well. This means that alcohol detox while in the care of Charle Street is completed without any medication. It is common that alcoholic seizures and other medical emergencies will occur in detox when attempted without medication. In the case of a seizure or other medical emergency, Charle Street has an estimated response time for paramedics to arrive within four minutes. From that point, medical treatment is provided by Hoag Hospital, which they are not affiliated with.

Along with detox being performed without medication nor medical supervision, a non-medical facility will often times mean that other medications are not permitted on site. Typically these facilities will limit medications to prescriptions for things such medications for heart and cardiovascular-related, diabetes, respiratory-related –Asthma, COPD and Emphysema, and some Antibiotics. Medications for ailments such as insomnia and anti-psychotic medications are oftentimes not permitted to be taken while on the premises.

Charle Street, First Step House, and McMillen house are run by volunteers who are active in the recovery community, specifically in Alcoholics Anonymous. While these facilities are not operated by professionals with any formal education in the field, they do offer incredible sober support to assist alcoholics in bearing the weight of newly found sobriety. Even if formal treatment is performed by a different entity, volunteering at a nonprofit like Charle Street, First Step House, and McMillen house is a great way to remain immersed in a sober community after treatment.

Government funded

There are many government-funded facilities for addictions and mental health treatment, both state-funded and federally-funded. Like nonprofit facilities, many government-funded facilities target specific disadvantaged populations. The most prevalent and readily available government-funded treatment facilities cater to veterans. The Department of Veteran Affairs runs many hospitals and treatment centers. There are also many grants offered by the government to support addiction treatment for pregnant women and other specific groups.

MediCal Addiction Treatment

When individuals do not have private health insurance and do not have the financial means to fund cash pay treatment, setting up MediCal and calling the CARES line may be the best solution. They provide a brief over-the-phone assessment to link those in need to the right location for an in-person assessment. After the in-person assessment, a referral is given to the potential client so they can get the help they need. It is county-specific, so be sure to contact the county aligned with your MediCal coverage. The phone number for Riverside County is (800) 499-3008, for Los Angeles County is (844) 804-7500, and for Orange County, it is (855) 625-4657.

Government-Funded & Nonprofit Does Not Always Mean Free

Treatment through a government-funded entity may sound like it will be free, same with the nonprofit organizations. Upon further analysis, it is uncovered that treatment can have some additional costs. For example, Rosecrance, a large not-for-profit healthcare provider that runs treatment centers, provides inpatient and outpatient addiction services for adults, teens, and children. On their website, they do make it very clear that every client who is treated at Rosecrance will be billed for routine charges such as room and board, group therapy and individual sessions with a counselor. They also prepare clients to pay for non-routine services such as prescription medications, lab work, psychiatric consultations, special medical care, or certain other services. The routine items clients will be billed for are included in the daily rate, but the non-routine items are in addition to the daily rate. Many times, the non-routine items are specific for individuals’ needs and are not assessed prior to intake. It is important to understand these specifics before believing that a government-funded or nonprofit treatment facility is going to provide treatment for free or for the initial low cost that is discussed prior to intake to treatment.


One of the most widely known faith-based free treatment programs for substance abuse that provides inpatient treatment is the Salvation Army. In order to check into the Salvation Army, potential clients must achieve 72 hours of sobriety prior to intake, as they do not provide detox services. The Salvation Army is not for the weak; this program requires hard work.

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) are two of the most well-known free faith based substance abuse treatment programs. These free support group based programs provide great sober support for addicts after they have gone through treatment in a formal treatment facility. Faith based programs such as AA and NA typically has similar requirements in order to benefit from their offerings. These requirements include admitting powerlessness to the substance, believing that only a Higher Power can allow maintained sobriety, turn will and life over to a Higher Power, making a moral inventory, admitting wrongs, being ready to let the Higher Power remove shortcomings, making amends, improving conscious contact with the Higher Power through prayer and meditation and spreading the word of the program and giving back to others who are in need.

nYsion Organization

A recently established nonprofit organization called nYsion was created with the mission to improve the quality of life of those who suffer from untreated mental health conditions and substance addictions. One of the most key elements in nYsion’s mission is their focus on bridging the disparity between the quality of care that those receiving free or low-cost treatment receive versus those who pay top dollar. This organization believes in equality in the quality of care and prioritizes providing low-income individuals with the same resources and opportunities for recovery as those who have financial means. nYsion’s objective is to raise funds for treatment and to communicate and coordinate with community members about facilitating permanent solutions for those suffering with untreated mental health conditions and substance abuse disorder in the community. The quality care that nYsion facilitates is strategically implemented to promote lifelong recovery and a better life after addiction treatment.

Evidence-based treatment, individualized care, dual diagnostic mental health, and addiction treatment are key elements of treatment that nYsion has observed as lacking for those without financial means for the best quality of care. nYsion also believes in the necessity of medically assisted detox and emphasizes that experienced healthcare professionals are necessary for addiction treatment to be productive in creating change for those in need.

Other Alternatives

Sometimes high-end for-profit facilities are willing to work with those without financial means or insurance, more so than one would expect. Payment plans are often times available, paying per day is oftentimes an option, credit cards are accepted and some facilities even offer financing options. Try to find a facility that offers cash rates on a sliding scale. When discussing the cash rate, emphasize the level of commitment the potential client has in their cooperation and receptiveness to to treatment, this can help the facility to understand that additional expenses will not need to be invested in getting a difficult client to benefit from treatment.

Sometimes a family member may be willing to help with the cost of treatment. Prior to asking for support, it may help to establish a plan. Oftentimes an admissions specialist will be willing to speak to a loved one to explain how the facility will utilize the funds to change the lives of their clients. When it comes to addiction, it can be a life or death circumstance, and oftentimes loved ones are more willing to help than one may be aware. Exhaust all options and do not give up.

Paying For Treatment

At the end of the day, the daily rate a facility charges typically is directly related to the operational expenses of the facility. When a facility employs experienced and highly educated professionals, that facility is going to have higher operational expenses. When agreeing to pay a high dollar amount for treatment, it is important to ensure that what is making up for the high costs is licensed experts providing care more so than high-end facility amenities such as a swimming pool and a private chef.

When it comes to drug and alcohol addiction treatment, having a priority in quality of care can be the biggest determination of if treatment will be successful or not. Success in treatment oftentimes can determine whether a life is saved or ends up spiraling out of control and lost forever. The best route is always to ensure licensed and experienced professionals are creating treatment plans and overseeing progress.

Detox is safest when overseen by medical professionals and when medications are provided to alleviate withdrawal symptoms that prevent seizures and other health emergencies. Detoxing without the care of medical professionals is not safe.

Surviving addiction is difficult enough. It is best to exhaust all options before entering into a program that will not provide the most support possible with licensed and experienced professionals overseeing operations.

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