Rehab has become a buzzword in Hollywood recently, with everyone from Selena Gomez to Ant (of BGT fame) going. But it’s not just a celeb retreat. Rehab can be the life-saving experience that an addict desperately needs. The Mix breaks down the realities of recovery in rehab.

A young woman is walking down the street. She is staring at her phone, trying to find rehab options. She is wearing a black puffer jacket. This is a close-up image.

What is rehab? 

Here are some of the basics:

  • ‘Rehab’ usually refers to a person being placed in a residential rehabilitation unit, a.k.a residential treatment, but not always. It can be ‘out patient’ treatment, support groups and care centres as well. Even though rehab is typically for substance misuse, it also deals with any form of addiction.
  • These rehab programmes usually last between 6 and 12 weeks, but they can go for up to a year, depending on the severity of the case.
  • Residential Centres are usually in the countryside.
  • The general idea is that if a person is removed from their habits and contacts (friends they drink with, dealers they know) they’ll have the time and sobriety to focus on their drug and drink use and abuse. There will also be support systems like counselling, and other non-medical treatments and therapies to support them.

Types of treatment programme

Minnesota model: This is part of the alcohol rehabs associated with the Alcoholics Anonymous/Narcotics Anonymous 12-step programme. At first glance it can feel a little much; but there are tonnes of testimonials to show that it works if you stick with it.

General house programmes: These are based on group and individual therapy; there are different approaches based on where you go.

Therapeutic communities: These have a hierarchical structure that people in recovery work through based on intense therapy sessions.

Christian house programmes: These are usually run by Christian staff. Some involve religion in the recovery programme, so non-Christians won’t be admitted.

Who needs rehab? 

Rehab isn’t the only form of addiction treatment, in fact it’s usually used as a last resort. 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.

As Amy Winehouse sang, ‘They tried to make me go to rehab but I said “No, No, No”’ (look it up, she’s an icon). It’s rare that people who go into drugs and alcohol rehabilitation centres actually WANT to be there. They are admitted because they NEED to be there; they’ve exhausted all options and have no other choice.

It’s a really difficult position to be in, so try to be gentle on them and yourself. Addiction is never a choice, it’s the outcome of a series of fucked-up factors. Remember that they’re trying to be better and that’s what counts. 

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 Bob’s your uncle. If you have private health insurance you may even be covered for a stint in rehab. No need to go too wild though; the likes of Johnny Depp and Kate Moss have allegedly paid up to £2,500 per week for their services.
  • Public: If you can’t afford to go private you’ll need to be assessed by your local authority to see if they’ll cough up the money instead. Costs can also be covered by benefits. Contact your local drugs advice centre for more information. Police, prison and probation services can also refer serious cases 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 helpline’s 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 any worries you have and refer you to other services if need be. Keep in mind that not all doctors are as sympathetic as you’d hope. If you feel you’re getting a raw deal, try one of the other two options above.

Things to consider 

Before rehab: Practically 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. What’s more, many inpatient detoxification units actually offer medically-supervised withdrawal using prescription drugs.

After rehab: How will you manage when you return to the outside world? You may have to do a 180-flip on your lifestyle, including the places you go out and the people you see; at least until you feel strong enough to say no.

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 Nishika Melwani

Updated on 05-Aug-2021