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 misuse issues.1
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 misuse 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 concerns, you deserve proper care for all of your service-related healthcare needs.2
After you’re enrolled with your VA insurance provider, visit your VA medical provider and talk to them about the struggles you are having related to substance misuse 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, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or anxiety. These could all can contribute to your substance use disorder and should be factored into your addiction treatment plan.
As you review alcohol and drug treatment for Veterans, 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 use disorder 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 misusing substances than other people. Sometimes you’re trying to shut out specific traumatic experiences or quiet PTSD. Whatever your unique needs are, to overcome substance misuse you need a program tailored to Veterans.
The VA is the first place to look for care. However, because VA substance use disorder 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.
- Outpatient treatment.
- Inpatient treatment.
- Opioid and substance use disorder 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. Speak with the treatment program before you enroll to ensure it accepts 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. Reps 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 page or call our toll-free admissions helpline at
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 doing so 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 use disorder 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.
What Benefits Do Spouses and Dependents of Veterans Receive?
As a spouse, dependent, or survivor of a Veteran, you may qualify for benefits related to healthcare, education and training, employment counseling, home loans/financing counseling, life insurance assistance, burial benefits, a survivors pension, survivor/dependent compensation, and more.9 Most often treatment for substance use disorders falls under the healthcare umbrella.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers several health care programs geared toward spouses, dependents, and/or survivors that may provide substance use disorder treatment. For example, if you’re a family member of a retired, active-duty, or deceased service member, National Guard soldier, Reservist, or Medal of Honor recipient, you may qualify for the Tricare health care program. Similarly, if you’re a current or surviving spouse or child of a Veteran with disabilities or a service member who died in the line of duty, and you don’t qualify for Tricare, you may be able to get health insurance through the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA).10
The best way to determine your eligibility is to contact the VA directly. You can also explore various healthcare benefits for spouses, dependents, and family caregivers. To determine your Tricare eligibility, review plans and eligibility online, and to gather insights about Tricare’s addiction-related coverage, check out the program’s list of covered services for substance use disorder treatment.
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 not only is close to home, but also involves 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.
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2020). Substance Use Treatment for Veterans.
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2021). How to Apply for VA Health Care.
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2021). Find VA Locations.
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2020). VA Health Care and Other Insurance.
- Tricare. (2019). Covered Treatments.
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2019). Survey of Veteran Enrollees’ Health and Use of Health Care.
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2021). VA Mental Health Services.
- Healthcare.gov. Mental health & substance abuse coverage.
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2022). VA Benefits for Spouses, Dependents, Survivors, and Family Caregivers.
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2022). Health Care for Spouses, Dependents, and Family Caregivers.