If you’re in the process of choosing treatment for addiction, then congratulations! You’ve made a decision that is going to impact your life for decades to come. 

It’s normal to experience some anxiety about funding treatment for substance use disorder (SUD). As a student, you could be handling your own finances for the first time while dedicating yourself to full-time studies. But chances are, treatment is more affordable than you think. 

You don’t have to be a full-time worker to afford addiction treatment. You may find it challenging to find room in the budget for addiction treatment, but there are plenty of resources available to help you afford treatment. 

SUD affects thousands of college students nationwide, and it’s critical to get treatment now, not years down the road when your condition has gotten progressively worse. 

These are your options for addiction treatment funding when you’re in college:

Private Health Insurance

All private health insurance plans need to cover some degree of addiction treatment, according to the Affordable Care Act. The exception is short-term plans, which can refuse pre-existing conditions like SUD. 

Most private insurance companies cover a combination of: 

  • Medication-assisted treatment
  • Outpatient treatment
  • Residential and inpatient treatment
  • Partial hospitalization programs
  • Counseling and therapy programs
  • Detox services

Some plans also cover drug intervention services, family counseling, and more. Most plans also cover drug tests and screenings. 

If you’re under 26 years old, you might be covered under your parents’ private health insurance plan. Ask your parents for details about your coverage, or if you have your own insurance card, give the company a call. 

You can get your own private health coverage if your parents’ plan does not cover you. There are a few ways to do this: 

  • Apply for health insurance using the Healthcare Marketplace, which is the government-sponsored marketplace for private insurance plans.
  • If you have part-time employment, ask your employer about health insurance, as some companies offer coverage to employees who work shorter hours. 

Medicaid Insurance

Some students are eligible for Medicaid coverage, which always covers addiction treatment. Medicaid is the government-funded healthcare coverage assistance program. 

The types of treatment that Medicaid covers include: 

  • Drug tests and treatment screenings
  • Medication-assisted treatment
  • Counseling
  • Inpatient and residential treatment
  • Outpatient treatment
  • Detox services

Medicaid also covers related health complications, including mental health disorders that co-exist with SUD. 

You may be eligible for Medicaid if you: 

  • Are not listed as a dependent on your parents’ tax returns.
  • Earn less than 100% to 200% of the poverty line in most states, but this varies from area to area. 

If you’re pregnant or have a child, then this increases the chances that you’ll be eligible. However, if your parents still claim you as a dependent when they file taxes, you won’t be eligible for Medicaid. 

Tricare Insurance

If you have a parent in the military and you’re covered by their Tricare plan, then your SUD treatment is covered. 

The same is true if you’re married to someone who’s in the military, if you’re a former spouse who meets some conditions, or if you’re a family member of a Medal of Honor recipient. 

If you had a spouse or parent die in the military, then you’re considered a survivor and you get coverage. 

And of course, you’re covered if you’re in the military yourself! 

National Guard and Reserve members and their families are also covered by Tricare. 

Tricare covers many types of SUD treatment, including: 

  • Detox programs
  • Outpatient treatment
  • Inpatient treatment
  • Intensive outpatient treatment
  • Medication-assisted treatment
  • Partial hospitalization program

As of 2020, telehealth services are covered for SUD, too. 

That’s not a comprehensive list of every treatment that’s covered. Tricare covers most evidence-based and medically necessary treatments. 

There’s a short list of treatments that aren’t covered, such as aversion therapy and unproven treatments. 

Recovery Scholarships

Recovery grants or scholarships help cover treatment costs for people who can’t afford rehab, including college students. 

One example is, 10,000 Beds, a nonprofit that connects people in need with free treatment. But they’re far from the only nonprofit that offers this service. Check in with your local behavioral health services to see if there are similar programs in your area. 

In most cases, there will be requirements that include: 

  • Being unable to afford treatment
  • Having tried other ways to fund treatment
  • Being ready for treatment and committed to recovery
  • Agreeing to a 30-day treatment stay or longer

You’ll probably have to write a personal statement about your experience with SUD and why you’re ready to recover. Be honest when writing your response so the person reviewing your application can understand what you need. 

In addition, some nonprofits specialize in providing funds for people in certain demographics, such as students, survivors of trauma, or survivors of sexual abuse. If your background is contributing to your SUD or your ability to treat it, then you could qualify for one of these programs. 

A recovery grant may cover part or all of your addiction treatment at an approved facility. However, there’s a lot of competition for these funds. It can take weeks or months to get treatment coverage, so if you’re in an emergency situation, you should explore other avenues first. 

Financial Aid

All colleges have a financial aid center that helps students who can’t afford tuition, but did you know some colleges offer aid for medical expenses too? 

In particular, sober colleges are likely to have funding set away for students who are in a crisis. With half of all American college students reporting drug and alcohol abuse, even wet campuses are increasingly aware that SUD help is a critical issue for students. 

Alternately, if you have funding that’s earmarked for tuition, consider seeking financial aid for that tuition so you can use the funds for treatment instead. 

Colleges that don’t have a fund for SUD treatment might work with you by covering a portion of your tuition, lessening your educational cost so you can afford treatment. 

Colleges are motivated to keep their students healthy and successful. Be open with your financial aid center about what you need and they’ll do what they can to help. 

Addiction is much less of a stigma than it was even 10 years ago on campus, so you should feel comfortable asking for the financial help that you need. Telling your school what’s going on simply shows that you’re putting your health and education first by addressing your SUD. 

Talk to Your School Counseling Center

Most college towns have a plethora of SUD resources in the area, and your counseling center works closely with them. If you’re sweating how to pay for addiction treatment, then you should stop at the counseling center to ask for local resource referrals. 

These resources are different in every area, but most areas do have support for people who go looking for it. The problem is, it can be hard to find those resources without someone telling you where to look. That’s where your college counselor comes in. 

Your counseling center can refer you to: 

  • State-funded treatment centers that offer free programs for some clients.
  •  Local treatment centers that work with clients who need payment plans or cost forgiveness. 
  • Local organizations and nonprofits that pay for medical treatment or addiction treatment. 
  • Scholarships and grants for students who need addiction treatment support. 
  • Social services that can help you afford treatment. 

They can also talk you through the process of treatment and what to expect. Many colleges have SUD-specialized counselors who have been through the process with many students and clients already, so they’ll be the best resource for you. 

Talk to Your Treatment Center

If you already have a treatment center in mind, talk with them about your financial situation. 

Most treatment centers have financial counselors on staff who can help you with the logistics of cost. They’ll help you find an accurate breakdown of cost for the treatment that you need, and they’ll connect you with any resources they know of to help you pay for it. 

If you have any kind of health insurance plan, whether it’s private, Medicaid, or military, then your treatment center will help you work out coverage details. 

Between your treatment center’s connections and your college counseling center’s resources, you may be able to cover a significant portion of your cost. 

Paying for Addiction Treatment is Within Reach

You don’t have to struggle through your addiction alone during your college career. You’re surrounded with resources that can help you pay for treatment, no matter how strapped your financial situation is. 

Being a full-time student doesn’t mean that treatment is out of reach for you. With a combination of local, national, and campus resources, you can take back your life and your college career, and leave SUD in the past. 


  1. A Day in the Life of College Students Aged 18 to 22: Substance Use Facts
  2. FAQs: A Few Things You Should Know About Us
  3. Substance Use Disorder Treatment | TRICARE

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