TRICARE and You – Dependents’ substance abuse treatment

This blog is the most recent in a series helping members of the Coast Guard family understand how to use their TRICARE benefits. The blog series will continue every Monday, right here on Coast Guard All Hands.



Written by Cmdr. Paul Fawcett

TRICARE has recently implemented changes to its substance abuse policy for non active duty beneficiaries to make it easier and cheaper for you to access these services. Policies for uniformed service members are different than dependents. Service members may self refer for alcohol treatment and may not be assessed an alcohol incident if no other factors such law enforcement involvement, or driving under the influence are present. You can review the Coast Guard Drug and Alcohol Abuse Program Instruction for more information.

The New benefit

Copays for substance abuse treatment counseling visits are dropping from $25 to $12 per visit. Additionally, the limit to he number of days allowed for residential substance abuse treatment, partial hospitalization and outpatient programs are being removed, meaning that medical need and not policy will determine what services your dependent will receive. This policy is in effect for active duty family members, retirees, and survivors. These changes to the TRICARE benefit will be effective October 3, 2016. You can read about the changes to the TRICARE substance abuse program on the TRICARE website.

The Whole Benefit

TRICARE covers substance abuse programs including detoxification, rehabilitation and counseling and therapy programs. Treatment has to be at a TRICARE authorized facility, and you will need a referral unless its for emergency treatment. If you or a family member are experiencing a substance abuse emergency you should call 911 or go to the emergency room immediately. If you or your family member are admitted, notification should be made to your regional TRICARE contractor within 72 hours so that you avoid billing problems later. See last weeks blog post to determine who your regional TRICARE contractor is and how to contact them.

Substance Abuse Resources

For emergent substance abuse situations service members may also call the Coast Guard Substance Abuse Prevention line at 757-628-4329. Coast Guard Substance Abuse Prevention Specialists (SAPS) are placed on detached duty at large commands and help provide assistance with prevention, training, education and treatment. More information about the Coast Guard Substance Abuse Prevention program is available on the SAPP website. A list of SAPS with phone numbers and locations are posted on that page. Family advocacy specialists at district or regional work life programs are also a good resource for substance abuse assistance. You can also download the HSWL APP to your phone so that you can access TRICARE, medical, and substance abuse information anytime, anywhere.

For other TRICARE questions, please contact the USCG Health Benefits Assistance line at 1-800-9-HBA-HBA or You can also leave us a comment below.

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