Does VA Insurance Cover Addiction Treatment?

Military life is unique and it can be challenging for civilians to relate to what military personnel have endured during their time serving in the armed forces. The unique stressors of being a military service member, especially in war zones, mean that military members are more likely than average Americans to struggle with substance abuse issues.1

Veterans, active military personnel, and their families often wonder whether VA benefits assist with addiction treatment. Fortunately, VA insurance includes treatment for substance abuse, mental health, and other co-occurring disorders. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), substance abuse and mental health treatment coverage is required in all long-term health insurance plans.

Checking Your VA Coverage

You had the courage and strength to face the enemies of this country, so we know you have the courage and strength to face and heal from addiction. To get started in finding the best addiction treatment, fill in this confidential form to check your insurance coverage and benefits or call our free, 24/7 addiction helpline at . To find VA benefits, type in “Vet” and choose the appropriate option. TRICARE and Medicaid are also options.

How Do I Get Addiction Treatment Through VA Insurance?

The first step to receiving addiction treatment or mental health treatment using your VA insurance benefits for substance abuse treatment is to enroll in a healthcare plan. Hopefully, you’ve already signed up for VA benefits, but if you haven’t, now is the time. Beyond substance abuse concerns, you deserve proper care for all of your service-related healthcare needs.2

After you’re enrolled with your VA insurance provider, you’ll want to visit your VA medical provider and talk to them about the struggles you are having related to substance abuse and mental health. Being honest is essential, and your doctor can provide the screenings, diagnosis, and referrals you need. You may be struggling with more than one mental health issue, such as depression, grief, survivor’s guilt, or anxiety. These could all can contribute to your substance use disorder and ought to be factored into your addiction treatment plan.

As you review treatment programs, focus on those that work closely with the VA and have specific programs that address the needs of vets. For example, the Salute to Recovery program can help you address PTSD and other unique struggles you face due to your experiences.

Being around other veterans for your treatment program can make a world of difference in how comfortable you are sharing your concerns and what you’ve been through.

If you don’t currently have a VA doctor, you can get one quickly and easily. Simply visit a local VA center or contact the VA at 800-827-1000. The staff can help assess your needs and match you with a provider either in-person or virtually.3

What if I Have VA Insurance and Another Health Insurance Plan?

Many veterans have a separate insurance along with their VA benefits. It can be challenging to know which one applies to your treatment. The good news is that you can use alternate insurance without losing your VA benefits if your alternate insurance benefits you more when receiving addiction treatment.4

The VA will need details about your other coverage whether it’s Medicare, TRICARE, or a private insurance plan. That way the VA can cover your service-connected needs and your insurance can be billed for non-service-connected care that you might receive.

You’re encouraged to enroll in Medicare when you turn 65, even if you have VA benefits. Under Medicare, you’ll have a broader range of doctors available to you, and if budget cuts ever impact your VA care, you’ll still have medical coverage.

Addiction Treatment Designed for Veterans

Because the experience of military veterans is so different than average Americans, you need a substance abuse program that directly fulfills your needs. It’s much easier to open up to fellow service members about military-related challenges than to a person who’s never endured similar experiences.

Military members have different reasons for abusing substances than other people. Sometimes you’re trying to shut out specific traumatic experiences or quiet PTSD. Whatever your unique needs are, in order to overcome substance abuse you need a program tailored to veterans.

The VA is the first place to look for care. However, because VA substance abuse treatment is in high demand, programs near you may be full or have a waiting list. The VA can help you review additional options, such as facilities that are part of the VA’s community care program.

Finding a private treatment center with a veteran-specific program gives you more choices while still respecting your military service and addressing your needs.

American Addiction Centers offers specialized addiction treatment for veterans and military personnel.


Active military members and some veterans are covered by TRICARE. This insurance can work with your VA insurance benefits to help you access the treatment programs you need.

TRICARE includes benefits such as:5

  • Drug testing.
  • Detoxification.
  • Outpatient treatment.
  • Inpatient treatment.
  • Opioid and substance abuse treatment programs.
  • Family therapy.


Medicare is a federal program that provides health insurance coverage to those age 65 and older, along with some younger disabled Americans. Many veterans have both Medicare and VA insurance benefits, but you can’t use both for the same care.

To access VA benefits, you’ll need to see a VA medical provider or attend a treatment program through the VA. If you instead get help from a non-VA doctor, or attend a private treatment program not connected with the VA, your Medicare Part A and Part B insurance will apply.

The VA tends to offer more extensive benefits to veterans and military personnel than Medicare, which is why it’s often an ideal place to start looking for treatment. However, if the VA programs aren’t available or are too far from where you live, Medicare may be able to help you with treatment coverage. Be sure you talk to the treatment program before you enroll to ensure they accept Medicare.


Medicaid is a state-based program designed to help low-income people access healthcare. A 2019 VA survey found that around 7% of VA benefits enrollees also reported having Medicaid coverage. The percentage was highest in the Priority 4-6 categories, which reported 12.4% of veterans with Medicaid coverage.6

Some addiction treatment programs will accept Medicaid for payment, but not all will. It’s important to start with your VA benefits first, but if you want to use Medicaid contact the treatment program directly. They can tell you whether Medicaid is sufficient payment or if you have other funding options.

American Addiction Centers accepts various forms of payment. If you’re curious about whether your method of payment is accepted at any of our rehab facilities, visit our Payment Options webpage or call our toll-free admissions helpline at .

How To Find Veteran Rehabs

Rehabs that serve Veterans are scattered across the United States. Rehabs that take part in the VA Community Care Network actively work with VA referrals to bring treatment to Veterans that is not only close to home, but with less wait time, and more specialized addiction treatment. Call us today at to find out which AAC facilities work with the VA to provide treatment.

Desert Hope Treatment Center Spotlight
picture of Desert Hope in Nevada Desert Hope Treatment Center is a Joint Commission-accredited addiction treatment facility offering a medically supervised detox program, inpatient rehab center, outpatient care, and sober living residences. Desert Hope is one of American Addiction Centers’ rehabilitation locations that offers a uniquely-designed program for United States military veterans. Located in Las Vegas, this rehab center offers a destination treatment center with comprehensive detox and inpatient rehab center programs to fit your personal needs.

Services offered include:

  • Veteran’s program.
  • Individual and group therapies.
  • Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT).
  • Co-occurring disorder mental health treatment.
  • Live-in rehabilitation.
  • Aftercare planning and access to our alumni network.
  • Translation services (Spanish 24 hours a day & other languages with notice).

During the COVID-19 (aka coronavirus) pandemic AAC is available to answer questions about addiction and treatment options. Our Nevada facility, Desert Hope Treatment Center, as well as our other rehabilitation centers across the United States, are open and accepting patients.

Explore our treatment centers and find out which one’s have Veteran programs today!

Does VA Insurance Cover Mental Health and Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment?

Mental health has been a pressing concern for military members for many years – and the VA takes these needs seriously. The challenges you face while courageously serving your country can have profound effects on your psyche – and not always for the better. Getting treatment for substance use disorders and other mental health conditions requires a lot of courage, but can also be extremely beneficial.

Some mental health services covered by the VA include:7

  • Grief treatment.
  • Anxiety treatment.
  • Depression treatment.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) treatment.
  • Military sexual trauma (MST) treatment.
  • Substance use disorder (SUD) treatment.
  • Other needs based on your situation.

The ACA defines mental health services and substance abuse treatment as essential benefits, so all permanent health insurance must have some level of coverage. The specific benefits you receive and how much of your treatment for an SUD or mental health condition will be covered can vary. So, be certain that you fully understand your plan before committing to treatment.8 Through the VA, you have access to a wide range of treatment options, including inpatient, outpatient, counseling, and other services.


  1. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2020). Substance Use Treatment for Veterans.
  2. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2021). How to Apply for VA Health Care.
  3. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2021). Find VA Locations.
  4. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2020). VA Health Care and Other Insurance.
  5. TRICARE. (2019). Covered Treatments.
  6. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2019). Survey of Veteran Enrollees’ Health and Use of Health Care.
  7. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2021). VA Mental Health Services.
  8. Mental health & substance abuse coverage.
Last Updated on October 14, 2021
Amelia Sharp
Amelia Sharp
Amelia Sharp is a Senior Web Editor at American Addiction Centers.

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