Affordable Treatment?

There is a growing trend across the nation to make addiction treatment available to everyone-and that is a great thing.  But what is not being talked about is middle America and the shrinking availability to us.  There are millions of us who work but cannot afford the monthly premiums for employer provided insurance.  We don’t qualify for medicaid plans because we work to pay our rents or mortgages and put food on our tables.  Most of us don’t have a savings plan we can dip into to pay for alcohol or drug treatment-out of pocket costs can soar into the tens of thousands.

If we do not work and have medicaid, we get free detox, free medication assisted treatment, and free inpatient, outpatient, and counseling services.  If we do work but cannot afford the insurance premiums, we are financially shut out from treatment.  For those of us who can afford to pay the monthly premiums, our deductibles are the prohibitive factor-I don’t know of many middle income families that can afford a 5 or 7 thousand out of pocket cost, plus affording to take the time off of work to seek treatment.

If we are opioid dependent and opt for Methadone, Medication-assisted treatment programs have adapted, and offer a ‘cash pay’ strategy where we can pay daily (anywhere from 12.00 /day to 18.00 /day), but we must go daily, attend groups or counseling, and often this just isn’t conducive to working full time or having toddlers to care for.  Out of pocket costs for addiction counseling can cost 75.00 per session and up.  Another drawback to this is the cost of the assessment to enter counseling; these can be anywhere from 125.00 and up, and is subjective depending on the person conducting the assessment.

Most outpatient facilities can charge 225.00 and more for intensive outpatient, while regular outpatient averages around 75.00; an over-inflated assessment can be the difference of hundreds of dollars.  Also, intensive outpatient groups are usually 3 days per week, for 3 hours each time, with limited 1-1 counseling, and mostly based upon 12-step groups.

So what is the alternative? 

Our communities!

12 Step Groups

In almost every community throughout America, support groups for alcohol and drug addiction exist.  These are comprised of people, just like us, who have a desire to stop drinking or using.  They are filled with people in all stages of recovery-from the just beginning-one day sober to people with years and decades of recovery.  These are free, available for women only, men only, closed meetings (meaning only people with addiction attend), speaker meetings (where one person will share their story),  LGBTQIA, teens, medical providers, and more.  They are also drug or alcohol specific:  AA for alcohol, CM for methamphetamine (crystal meth), CA for cocaine, NA for narcotics, MARA for medication assisted, HA for heroin, and more.  Free.

SMART Recovery

Smart Recovery is another option, and the largest alternative to Alcoholics Anonymous. SMART Recovery is a self-empowering alternative to the 12-step method. The fundamental difference between SMART and AA is locus of control. That is, whether one’s recovery should be guided from within, or by an external higher power.  Free.

Women for Sobriety

WFS is dedicated to helping women discover recovery from any Substance Use Disorders. Founded in 1975, the WFS New Life Program is based on thirteen Acceptance Statements which encourage emotional and spiritual growth. WFS has certified facilitators leading mutual support groups online and in person, as well as phone volunteers available for one-on-one support. Any woman seeking an abstinent New Life is welcome to join WFS, and all expressions of female identity are welcome.  Free.

LifeRing Secular Recovery

LifeRing is a secular, non-profit organization providing peer-run addiction recovery groups. The organization provides support and assistance to people seeking to recover from alcohol and drug addiction, and also assists partners, family members and friends of addicts or alcoholics.  Free.

Celebrate Recovery

CR is a Christ-centered, 12 step recovery program for anyone struggling with hurt, pain or addiction of any kind.  Celebrate Recovery is a safe place to find community and freedom from the issues that are controlling our life.  Family and supports are welcome.  Free.

Yoga 12-Step Recovery-Y12r

Y12r  “connects the dots” between the ancient wisdom of yoga, the practical tools of 12-step programs, and the latest research on trauma healing and neurobiology. As part of a holistic recovery program, it works in tandem with traditional treatment to address the physical, mental and spiritual disease of addiction.  Online classes are available and free.

A link to these resources is:

In the not too distant past, many of us went into recovery and chose to return to school or classes and become an addiction counselor.  We made up the majority of counselors in the field.  We had walked the walk and changed our lives to make a difference to others.

With the rise in medicaid and insurance interest, policies now are requiring more and more that addiction counselors have higher education levels (and more designations behind their names).  Many counselors cannot afford the time or financial hardship of taking on more student loans, so the traditional addiction counselor numbers are dwindling.  Masters-level counselors with degrees in mental health increase, while the experience level with actual addiction dwindles.  There is a strong comorbidity between mental health and addiction, but the cookie cutter approach with more emphasis on mental health is now the norm rather than the exception.

While the community groups are not treatment, they provide everything that an outpatient addiction treatment can provide, and more.  Times can be adjusted to your schedule- groups can be available 24/7 if you want to incorporate online.  There is no cost (although donations are appreciated), and you can try many, many types of groups before you decide on one or more that suits you.

You will find enormous support, make friends to last a life time, hear personal accounts from people who have walked your walk, get valuable referrals and find resources, and can proceed at your own pace-individual to you.  You can go to as many or as few as you wish, combine a bunch of different types, and take or leave what works for you or doesn’t work for you.

If you need or want individual mental health counseling, there are many licensed, independent counselors who can work with you on a sliding scale basis.  There are also free mental health support groups out there:   -

Recovery from alcohol and addiction is hard- nothing easy to it-but it is possible and help is all around you-please check out this site: and browse this site.  You can also reach out directly via email for more questions and help.  I care!


As always, my hopes are for your hopes and dreams….     T