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State-Funded Rehab for Veterans

State-funded rehab centers are low- to no-cost rehab facilities for people living with substance use disorders, including veterans. These rehab centers are designed to help low-income individuals afford vital substance abuse treatment. Many low-income veterans who struggle with substance abuse may benefit from attending a state-funded rehab. However, before you attend a state-funded rehab, it’s important to understand how they’re different from private rehab centers, and whether or not you or your veteran loved one is eligible for treatment.

Table of Contents

What Are State-Funded Drug & Alcohol Rehabs?

State-sponsored drug rehabs are funded by the government. They provide drug and alcohol rehab services to people who are unable to afford treatment or do not have private health insurance coverage. The sources of funding for these rehabs vary depending on the state. Many rehabs receive their funding through state budgets, federal grants, and Medicaid reimbursement.1

State-funded rehabs can be inpatient, residential, or outpatient centers. They incorporate a variety of therapy types, including specialized therapy for veterans, though these centers tend to prioritize and provide services that are deemed medically necessary.

State-sponsored rehabs are sometimes included as part of other state services, such as criminal justice, child social services, and prison provisions. This means the funding is provided through a person’s connection with these programs—e.g. if your children are in foster care while you attend rehab. There are options for people not involved in these programs, provided they show they qualify for these state-funded rehab centers.

What Programs Are There?

There are a few different types of state-funded programs, including:

  • Medicaid: Medicaid covers the cost of rehabilitation in drug and alcohol rehab centers that accept Medicaid. Under the Affordable Care Act, substance use disorder is not considered a pre-existing condition, and all insurers (including Medicaid) must cover the cost of drug and alcohol rehabilitation.2 Eligibility requirements vary from state to state; in some states, you may be responsible for paying a portion of treatment.
  • Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities: Available to active-duty military and veterans, these programs are specifically tailored for veterans and provide various treatment services including detox, inpatient, and outpatient treatment.
  • Local facilities: Every state has state-funded rehab facilities that provide treatment for veterans and low-income individuals who can prove residency in the state in which they are seeking treatment.
  • Tribal facilities: The Indian Health Service (IHS) — a federal health program for American Indians and Alaska Natives — covers the cost of rehab for Native Americans/Indigenous Peoples.3

Pros & Cons of State-Funded Rehabilitation Centers

State-funded rehab centers provide high-quality treatment and care in order to help guide you to a successful recovery and life of sobriety. As with any rehab facility, there are pros and cons to these services:

Pros of state-funded rehab:

  • Accessible to all due to low to no cost.
  • Both inpatient and outpatient treatment is available.
  • Every state has free rehab centers, which makes it easier to find a local facility and stay close to home.
  • Held to professional standards and use evidence-based treatments.

Cons of state-funded rehab:

  • Long waitlists.
  • Basic services only (no amenities).
  • Programs sometimes involve short stays, which may be detrimental to recovery, as sometimes more time is needed for a full recovery.
  • Fewer staff members/less individualized attention.

How to Find a State-Funded Rehab

If you have limited financial resources to help pay for addiction treatment and you’d like to find a state-sponsored rehab for care, finding a program is the first step.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration provides a comprehensive listing of options available in each state. You can use this listing to find a rehab center near you. The Directory of Single State Agencies for Substance Abuse Services has contract information for each state’s substance abuse agency; it, too, can help find a center near you.

Eligibility for State-Funded Rehabs

State-funded substance abuse programs typically have strict eligibility requirements, as demand is high and spots are limited. Each state has different requirements. In most cases you will be asked to provide:

  • Proof of U.S. citizenship.
  • Residency in the state you’re seeking treatment.
  • Income verification.
  • Family size.
  • Existing health insurance (or lack thereof).

To get information on eligibility requirements for the state you live in, visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website for state-to-state information.

Do Veterans Qualify for State-Funded Programs?

The VA provides healthcare of all types for veterans, including substance use disorder treatment. However, in some cases, veterans are able to receive care from a community provider (such as a state-funded rehabilitation center) when the VA cannot provide the care needed.

For example, if the VA rehab is full, you may be able to seek treatment at a state-funded rehab center so that you do not need to wait for a spot to become available at the VA. This treatment is paid for by the VA’s Community Care program, which is available to veterans based on eligibility and other conditions, depending on the care being requested. The VA must authorize access to care outside of the VA before you can receive care from a community provider.4

In some cases, veterans are charged a copayment for non-service-connected care. If you have private insurance, the VA may charge your health insurance for rehab and any prescriptions you are taking. However, if you are attending a state-funded rehab rather than a VA rehab, then this is not a concern, as state-funded rehabs generally serve individuals who do not have private insurance.

Cost Comparison: State-Funded vs VA vs Private

State-funded, VA, and private rehabs all provide treatment for substance use disorder. However, there are differences between these facilities, what they offer, and the cost of attending.

Cost of State-Funded Rehab

State-funded rehab programs depend on funding that is used toward treatment rather than amenities. These facilities offer basic services such as detox, therapy, and inpatient treatment. They tend to have shared bedrooms, basic meals, and few amenities or holistic therapies.

These rehabs have limited funding and space in their programs, and most people must go on a wait-list before being given space at the facility. Wait times can be weeks or months. If you’re ready to get help immediately, this can be discouraging. Because the state-funded rehab programs have limited funding, this generally means there may be fewer staff members per patient, and your care and attention may be somewhat less individualized.

State-funded rehabs are closely monitored by government (state) agencies, and all treatment techniques used must be evidence-based and proven effective in treating drug and alcohol addiction.

Cost of VA Rehab

The Department of Veterans Affairs Alcohol and Drug Dependence Rehabilitation Program provides therapies to veterans with substance use disorders, including those who have unhealthy alcohol use to life-threatening addictions. The programs offer detoxification, rehabilitation, and psychiatric care. VA rehabs are located in VA medical centers and clinics across the United States.

VA rehabs use evidence-based techniques and offer specialized counseling specifically for veterans.5

In order to attend a VA rehab, you must either be currently enrolled or qualify for enrollment in the VA healthcare system. Attending VA rehab requires no out-of-pocket expenses for veterans who qualify to attend.

If you are no longer active duty, your character of discharge or service must not be under dishonorable conditions in order to receive treatment at VA rehabs. In some cases, the VA may make exceptions. To find a VA medical facility near you, visit the VA directory.

Cost of Private Rehab

Private rehab treatment facilities are generally more expensive, and costs are covered through insurance and private payments. The cost of private rehabs varies greatly, depending on the location of the rehab and amenities offered. Some individuals may qualify for a scholarship or payment plan if they cannot cover the costs up-front. Private rehab facilities generally have more amenities, including private rooms, gourmet meals, recreational facilities, and spa options (e.g., yoga or massage).

Private facilities use evidence-based techniques. Treatment may also involve complementary techniques, such as acupuncture, and other newer treatment modalities. These facilities also tend to offer other programs such as family counseling and music and art therapy. There are generally shorter waitlists to attend a private rehab as there are many such facilities throughout the country. Because they are privately funded, they have more staff on hand. Patients have a higher chance of receiving more individualized treatment and attention.

Are There Truly Free Rehab Programs?

Yes. There are free drug and alcohol rehab centers intended to help people with substance use disorder. Some of these facilities are not-for-profit organizations, and others are faith-based. Government-funded programs, available free of charge, include state-sponsored rehab centers and VA rehabs. Free rehab programs vary in what they offer, but they all provide addiction treatment services ranging from detox to long-term residential care.6

Is Attending State-Funded Rehab Confidential?

The stigma attached to addiction is often a barrier to accessing treatment, especially for veterans. Veterans may feel uneasy about asking for help, as such attitudes can be discouraged while serving in the military. However, there is no need to worry about your privacy being breached when you attend rehab. Addiction treatment is private, and your confidentiality is absolutely assured when you attend state-funded rehab.

Federal laws and regulations ensure the privacy of anyone who attends treatment, whether at a VA, privately-owned, or state-funded rehab.7 These laws were enacted to help protect your privacy and reduce the stigma of receiving treatment.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) was enacted to ensure the privacy of what is known as protected health information (PHI) in all forms, including written, verbal, and electronic communication/information. HIPAA states that historical, current, or future health information cannot be shared without the consent of the patient, except in certain situations.8 These protections allow everyone, including veterans, to attend a rehab program with a sense of security and privacy.

You Might Also Be Interested In


  1. Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. (2000). Integrating
    substance abuse treatment and vocational services
    . Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 38. HHS Publication No. (SMA) 12-4216. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
  2. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2019). Mental health & substance abuse coverage.
  3. Indian Health Service. (2021). Alcohol and Substance Abuse Program.
  4. U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. (2020). Community Care.
  5. U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. (2021). Substance Use Treatment for Veterans.
  6. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2019). Paying for treatment.
  7. American Society of Addiction Medicine. (2020). Confidentiality (42 CFR part-2).
  8. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2020). Your rights under HIPAA.