If you or a loved one are in the process of choosing a rehab to attend, the number of rehab options can be bewildering.
As of 2019, there were 132 active residential rehab centres registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in England.  Although that number is slightly lower than in previous years, it still represents a huge variety in terms of choice.
So what criteria do you use to choose a rehab? How do you decide which rehab is more suited to your needs? These are the questions we will help you to answer in this article.
What type of treatment will be best for me?
Broadly speaking, there are two main types of treatment for drug and alcohol addiction. They are:
- Inpatient/residential treatment. Inpatient or residential treatment refers to treatment that takes place in a residential rehab. Residential rehabs offer round-the-clock medical care, a bed to sleep in, three meals a day and a range of evidence-based therapies. Although private residential rehab tends to be quite expensive, it provides a very high standard in addiction care
- Outpatient treatment. In outpatient treatment, the patient stays at home during detox and rehab. They travel to an outpatient centre for medical care and therapy. Outpatient treatment tends to last a bit longer, as it only takes up a few hours a day. A typical outpatient treatment course might take between 8 weeks and several months, depending on the patient’s needs
- Read more about the differences between inpatient and outpatient rehab here
Some other forms of addiction treatment include:
- Day programmes. In a day programme, the patient attends a clinic for one day a week, or sometimes a few days a week. This treatment can be good for those who want to ease back into normal life after a stretch of inpatient rehab. It can also be effective for those with very mild substance problems that don’t merit a full detox and rehab
- Rehab abroad. There are several highly-specialised rehabs overseas that are worth considering if you have been to rehab before and want to try something a bit different. If you decide to go to rehab abroad, you will have access to a variety of rehab options, including some of the most luxurious and highly-specialised rehabs in the world. You can also find very good value for money abroad, with some rehabs offering the same standard of treatment that you can access in the UK, for a much lower price
What are my goals and needs for drug or alcohol rehab?
Once you have decided what kind of treatment you want to receive, it is important to think about two things.
- What do I want to achieve by going to rehab? (aims/goals)
- What is essential for me in rehab treatment? (needs)
Working out your rehab goals
For some, there will only be one goal: getting sober. That’s absolutely fine. Indeed, the most important thing to establish before going to rehab is that you do, in fact, want to get sober. Wanting to get sober is the first step on the road to recovery.
However, others will have more specific goals. For instance, they may have goals that they wish to achieve by certain dates. We can call these ‘short-term’, ‘medium-term’ and ‘long-term’ goals. These goals may relate to housing, employment and relationships as well as abstinence.
It’s important to work out what the rehab you are considering views as a ‘success’ – whether that is patients getting sober, or patients finding employment, or patients mending their relationships.
If the rehab’s criteria for success match up to your own criteria, then it’s a good fit. If not, you might want to look elsewhere.
Establishing your rehab needs
Just as with goals, some people are likely to have more needs than others. We’ve tried to cover four of the most common types of rehab needs below.
Co-occurring mental health conditions
The first need to discuss is co-occurring mental health conditions.
It is very common for those with substance use disorders to suffer from mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression or borderline personality disorder (BPD). 53% of those getting treatment for substance use in the UK have some form of mental health problem. 
People with co-occurring mental health conditions sometimes benefit from different therapies. For instance, Exposure Therapy is good for treating anxiety and may also have some benefits for treating SUDs. 
If you have a specific mental health condition, and you would like to receive a less common therapy such as Exposure Therapy, you may want to check with the rehab to make sure that they offer this therapy before booking a place.
Another need that is quite common in those going to rehab relates to disability. 18% of those getting treatment for drugs or alcohol in the UK have some form of disability. 
Whether mental or physical, disabilities create an added treatment need. For instance, someone with a mental disability like autism may benefit from different forms of therapy. Someone who is physically disabled may have specific accessibility needs.
If you are disabled, it is always worth checking with the rehab to see that they have the right facilities. All rehabs in the UK should have the capacity to treat people with disabilities, and infrastructure for the disabled has improved greatly in the last few years. 
Addiction to multiple substances (polysubstance dependence)
A third need relates to addiction to multiple substances, sometimes known as polysubstance dependence. This presents treatment issues, since withdrawal from multiple substances can provoke severe withdrawal symptoms.
Furthermore, medications that may be appropriate for one kind of substance dependency may not be appropriate for another.
Again, if you have a dependence on multiple substances, make sure to check with the rehab you have chosen to make certain that they have the correct procedures in place for dealing with this need.
A fourth, and final need comes with chronic pain. Often associated with alcohol and opioid addiction, chronic pain can stem from a severe injury, or a long-term condition. Chronic pain can be treated using alternative therapies such as acupuncture.
Not all rehabs offer treatments like acupuncture; be sure to check with your chosen rehab if you have chronic pain and they will be able to tell you what treatments they offer that can help reduce your pain.
How do I research my rehab options?
Once you’ve worked out what kind of treatment you want (inpatient/outpatient), thought about your treatment goals (sobriety, jobs, relationships etc.) and your rehab needs (mental health conditions, disabilities, chronic pain etc.), it’s time to do some research.
Here’s three things you can do to research your treatment options.
- Contact someone who can give you impartial advice. At Rehab 4 Addiction, we are always available to offer guidance and support. However, there are lots of other people you can contact, including counsellors, social workers and therapists. Getting in touch with someone who knows about different rehab options is a great first step to take
- Browse available information online. If you aren’t quite ready to pick up the phone, there is a wealth of information on the Internet which you can use to find out more about your addiction, possible treatments and rehab options
- Make use of a free helpline. There are lots of free helplines which can offer further advice on addiction. You can find links to several helplines, suggested podcasts and other useful resources here
What should I consider in a rehab?
Say you’ve done some research, and made a shortlist of rehabs you like the look of. How do you narrow it down? What other features of a rehab are worth considering?
We’ve listed some things below which can help you decide between different rehabs.
- Experienced staff. A good rehab should have a range of experienced staff, including a medical director, nurses, case managers, psychiatrists, nutritionists, addiction therapists, holistic therapists and more. You can very quickly check whether a rehab has a full set of experienced and highly-trained staff by going to the ‘Staff’ section on their website (nearly all rehabs will have this page)
- All drug and alcohol rehabs should be accredited. In the UK, look for UKAS accreditation. UKAS is the National Accreditation Body for the United Kingdom
- Range of treatment options. Given the huge variety of treatment options that exist nowadays, you should be able to explore any kind of therapy and treatment which will benefit you the most. Make sure to check that the rehab you are considering provides a healthy range of treatment options
- Aftercare is the treatment which comes after inpatient rehab. It can incorporate sober living homes, support groups, therapy, counselling, medical check-ups, mentoring and 12-step groups. Good rehab courses should come with a set period of aftercare, sometimes for as long as a year after the initial stay in rehab. Given the high rates of relapse that often go hand-in-hand with addiction treatment, (with 40-60% of those with SUDs said to relapse after treatment), aftercare can help keep you abstinent. 
- It is worth knowing how much you should expect to pay for inpatient rehab. In general, 28 days of inpatient rehab in the UK should cost between £7,000 and £20,000, although this varies depending on the rehab. If a rehab costs significantly more, or significantly less, than these figures then that might be a cause for concern
- Accommodation might not seem as important as the actual treatment on offer, or the friendliness of the staff, but remember that you are going to have to stay in this place for at least a few weeks. Cramped accommodation can seriously impact your mental health at a time when you need to be as comfortable and relaxed as possible
- Amenities are important for a few reasons. Firstly, if you like to exercise, it’s important that you go to a rehab which allows for that. Exercise can be enormously beneficial during the rehab phase, when you are building up your strength after detox. Look out for gyms, outdoor spaces, and other amenities which promote exercise
Secondly, amenities should allow for relaxation. Many rehabs nowadays have meditation rooms, saunas, lounge areas and other spaces where people can relax.
- Reviews are a great way to learn about a rehab, from the point of view of people who have actually been to that rehab. Reviews offer an unvarnished account of a rehab’s positives and negatives. You should definitely read the reviews of a rehab before you decide to book
What questions should I ask when I contact a drug or alcohol rehab?
Now that you’ve made a shortlist, and narrowed it down to a few candidates, it’s time to call up the rehab and ask a few questions. There are loads of things you can ask about. We’ve compiled a long list of possible areas you might want to discuss. Consider this a menu of possible questions you could ask.
- Is your rehab accredited by a government body?
- Do you offer aftercare? How long does your aftercare last after rehab?
- Do you give medical assessments?
- Do you help patients to create tailored treatment plans?
- What treatments do you offer?
- What treatments can you offer for co-occurring mental health disorders?
- Do you allow family to visit? Do you offer family therapy?
- How can I get to your rehab? Is it easy to find?
- Do you have comfortable accommodation? What amenities do you offer (e.g. lounge room, meditation room, swimming pool, garden etc.)
- Can I come and visit before I make up my mind?
- How much does it cost? Are there different rehab packages at different prices?
- Can you offer medication during detox?
- Are all staff members qualified and experienced?
- Are there any rules I should be aware of?
We think we’ve covered the main points about choosing a drug or alcohol rehab. If you follow the steps we’ve recommended, you should find a rehab that suits you and your needs.
Ultimately, while it is important to find the right rehab, change has to come from within.
At Rehab 4 Addiction, we believe that everyone has what it takes to lead happy, healthy lives. If you’d like to discuss any of the advice in this article, or if you need help choosing a drug or alcohol rehab, then give us a call at 0800 140 4690.
 Gov.uk, ‘Substance misuse treatment for adults statistics 2018-19’. https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/substance-misuse-treatment-for-adults-statistics-2018-to-2019/adult-substance-misuse-treatment-statistics-2018-to-2019-report#mental-health
 R. Kathryn McHugh, PhD, ‘Treatment of Co-occurring Anxiety Disorders and Substance Use Disorders’
 NIDA. 2020, July 10. Treatment and Recovery. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/treatment-recovery on 2021, January 11