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Step by Step Guides to Finding Treatment for Drug Use Disorders

Cost and Privacy Issues

My friend has considered treatment but is afraid of what others will think. What can I tell my friend?

Many employers, friends, and family members will be compassionate if they see a person is making a sincere effort to recover from a substance use problem. But you can also reassure your friend that laws protect the privacy of a person seeking drug treatment—or in fact, any medical treatment. Health care providers may not share information with anyone else without a patient’s permission. Some jobs may require a doctor's note saying an employee is being treated for a medical condition, but the nature of the condition need not be specified. For more information on how private medical information is protected by law, read the HHS information on Health Information Privacy (HIPAA).

How can people find a treatment center they can afford?

The Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration provides payment information for each of the treatment services listed, including information on sliding fee scales and payment assistance. You should select the “substance use facilities” section and you can enter a zip code. If you find it difficult to navigate or prefer to talk on the phone, you can call the treatment helpline at 1-800-662-4357 or 1-800-487-4889 (TTY).  You can also go to the "Frequently Asked Questions" section for more information (See “Where can a person with no money and no insurance get treatment?”). In addition, to ask about treatment centers that offer low- or no-cost treatment, you can also contact your state behavioral health agency—many states offer help with payment for substance use treatment. 

Note that the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act ensures that co-pays, deductibles, and visit limits are generally not more restrictive for mental health and substance use disorder benefits than they are for medical and surgical benefits. The Affordable Care Act builds on this law and requires coverage of mental health and substance use disorder services as one of ten essential health benefits categories. Under the essential health benefits rule, individual and small group health plans are required to comply with these parity regulations. For more information on the Affordable Care Act, you can call 1-800-318-2596 or go to https://www.healthcare.gov/.

When you research payment options, be sure you are speaking to people familiar with the new rules (old websites and pamphlets will not necessarily be accurate.)

A note on health insurance for veterans: If the person needing treatment is a veteran or is covered by health benefits for veterans, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) can help you find VA services near you. Visit the VA Substance Use Disorder Program Locator to do your search.

This page was last updated October 2019

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NIDA. (2019, October 18). Step by Step Guides to Finding Treatment for Drug Use Disorders. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/step-by-step-guides-to-finding-treatment-drug-use-disorders

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