With a new star 'checking in' to rehab every other week, The Mix decided to find out what all the fuss is about.

People sitting on chairs in a circle at group therapy

Group therapy is sometimes part of going to rehab

What is rehab?

  • ‘Rehab’ usually refers to a person being placed in a residential rehabilitation unit, but it can also refer to ‘out patient’ treatment, support groups and care centres. The patients are often treated for heavy drug or alcohol dependency, but people may also go into rehab to deal with gambling or sex addictions.
  • These placements usually last between six and 12 weeks, but they can continue for much longer; some very severe cases can stay for up to a year.
  • Residential Centres are usually placed within rural settings.
  • It is thought that by removing the person from their habits and contacts (friends they drink with, dealers they know) they will have the time and sobriety to focus on their drug and drink use and abuse using counselling and other non-medical treatments and therapies.
  • Some people are able to get to grips with their problem without professional help, however most require the more structured methods of rehab and the support that comes with it.

The different programmes

Minnesota model: This is associated with the Alcoholics Anonymous/Narcotics Anonymous 12-step programme. At first glance it can feel a bit overbearing and religious; but there are plenty of testimonials to show that it works if you adhere to the steps properly. The model sees addiction as a disease, and aims for long-term abstinence.

General house programmes: These are based on group and individual therapy; approaches differ.

Therapeutic communities: These operate a hierarchical structure which residents work through based on intense therapy sessions.

Christian house programmes: Usually run by Christian staff, some involve religion in the recovery programme thus non-Christians will not be admitted.

Who needs rehab?

You don’t need to be an addict to seek help with a drugs or alcohol problem. Read The Mix’s article on Coming off different drugs and Staying off drugs for information on changing a short-term pattern of drug and alcohol use.

Amy Winehouse sang about not wanting to go to rehab (“I said no, no, no”), which is a common feeling. It’s rare that people who go into drugs and alcohol rehabilitation centres desperately want to be there. They are admitted because they need to be there; they have pushed themselves too far into a longer-term cycle of addiction to find their way back by themselves.

Getting into rehab

If you or a loved one needs to go to rehab there are two main routes in:

  • Private: If you can afford to pay for a private clinic you just need to find a decent, accredited centre with space available and check yourself in. If you have private health insurance you may be covered for a stint in rehab. The Priory may well be a little out of your price range though; the likes of Johnny Depp and Kate Moss have allegedly paid up to £2500 per week for their services.
  • Public: If you can’t afford to go private you will need to be assessed by your local authority to see if they will cough up the money instead. Costs can also be met through benefits. Contact your local drugs advice centre for more information. Police, prison and probation services will also refer people with serious drug and alcohol dependency through the criminal justice system.

How to find out about rehab centres in your area

  • Call one of the free, confidential telephone helplines in our next steps box at the bottom of the page or on our helplines page.
  • Use our Local advice finder to locate drugs services in your area and go along to one the local drop-in centres.
  • Visit your doctor (GP). They can help with initial problems and refer you to other services if they think you need them. However, not all doctors are as sympathetic as you’d hope, if you feel you are getting a raw deal try one of the other two routes above.

Things to consider

Before rehab: Virtually all rehab centres require users to be completely detoxed and abstinent from drugs and alcohol use before they enter the building. That said there are some ‘wet hostels’ that work with heavy drinkers, while many inpatient detoxification units offer medically-supervised withdrawal.

After rehab: How will you manage when you return to the outside world? You may have to change your lifestyle very drastically, including the places you go out and the people you see, at least until you feel strong enough to say no.

Photo of people in group therapy by Shutterstock

Next Steps

  • Addaction helps people recover from drug and alcohol addictions.
  • FRANK offers friendly, confidential advice on all things drugs-related. Call now on 0300 123 6600
  • Release offers free and confidential advice on everything to do with drugs and drugs law. 0845 4500 215
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

By Susie Wild

Updated on 29-Sep-2015