Navigating the Healthcare System When Facing Addiction

Find the resources you need to overcome substance abuse disorder.

A worker at a call center takes a call from a person who needs help accessing healthcare for addiction.

Medically reviewed in August 2021

Navigating the healthcare system can be a confusing and daunting task. Therefore, understanding how to properly access prevention, treatment and recovery services is crucial to an individual suffering from substance use disorders. Insurance coverage for mental health services, including substance use disorders, has been expanded due to The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 and the substance use parity rule. These require private health insurance plans to offer substance use disorder and mental health services, with equal coverage for mental health treatment compared to treatment for other health conditions. These laws were made to ensure equality, but will require time, effort and collaboration to make it a reality for all Americans.

Understanding your insurance plan and coverage is important for seeking healthcare. Call your insurance provider before receiving treatment in order to understand which providers and services are covered on your insurance plan. Depending on your plan, in-network providers may be a more reasonable price, as they are required to use the pre-determined rate approved by your insurance provider. Some insurance plans cover out-of-network providers; if yours doesn’t, ask your insurance provider prior to receiving care about filing an appeal to have this service covered.

Your healthcare provider may be able to recommend a treatment facility for you, but it’s important to research treatment facilities in your area and be ready to discuss options with your healthcare provider.

Use these tools to search facilities in your region:

Support groups may provide useful tools for navigating the system based on others’ experiences.

If you or someone you love is in a crisis, please call 911 or a 24-hour emergency helpline:

Mental Health America Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255 or call, text, or chat 988
Narcotics Anonymous
Alcoholics Anonymous

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