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What is Rehab?

Last updated on 4th May 2023

Government statistics found that there were 275,896 adults in contact with drug and alcohol services between April 2020 and March 2021. This is a small rise compared to the previous year (270,705). The UK has the highest prevalence of drug misuse in Europe, with a staggering one third of adults reporting using drugs at least once in their life.

Rehab helps people who have problems with addiction (such as drug and alcohol misuse) by providing treatment to aid recovery. This is usually for an addiction to drugs or alcohol, but it can include other addictions. In the UK the Office for National Statistics found that there has been a steady rise in drug related deaths over the past 10 years. Rehab is something that can help people with addictions to overcome their illness and become free of their dependence.

What is rehab?

People go to rehab to receive health and rehabilitation treatment to overcome addiction. An addiction is an impulsive behaviour that causes someone to seek out the thing they are addicted to; no matter how harmful this can be to their life and health. This is because the person has become dependent on that particular thing.

As well as drugs and alcohol, someone can be addicted to a number of other things including:

  • Gambling.
  • Sex.
  • Prescription drugs such as antibiotics.
  • Food.
  • Internet.
  • Shopping

However, for the purposes of this article, we will focus our structure on drug and alcohol rehab.

Addiction makes you crave a particular thing, and often people behave out of character until they can meet their next craving. The cravings can be so strong that a person will do anything to meet them. This can include taking fake substances such as fake alcohol. Chasing cravings can negatively impact on many areas of your life, so rehab treatment works by treating addiction as a whole. It allows you to become free of addictive substances and offers you support to rehabilitate and get your life back on track.

To overcome addiction, rehab uses a range of therapies and treatments to support you to become free of addictive substances or the activity you are addicted to. There are different rehab centres that treat the different addictions (those listed above). These can be treated in an inpatient or outpatient setting (which will be explained further on in this article).

The different formats of rehab treatment vary in how they deliver treatment to you. This means that you can pick the type of rehab that will best match your personal circumstances, making the treatment flexible to your individual needs.

Rehab treatment

How does rehab work?

Rehab treats addiction by targeting both the physical dependence of the addiction, as well as the behaviour change caused by the psychological dependence; which is often the root cause of addiction. Addiction can very quickly take over your life, leaving you feeling out of control and impacting all areas of your life. This is because addiction to drugs and alcohol affects the chemicals in the brain, creating an imbalance which feeds into the addiction.

The aim of rehab is to break the cycle of addiction. It does this by creating a treatment programme for clients to work through. By the end of the treatment programme, the client should be free from addiction and be ready to restart their life. Treatment programmes contain a mixture of therapies that each aim to tackle a different aspect of the addiction. This is a holistic form of addiction treatment that treats the whole person and not just the physical addiction. This can help people to lead happier and healthier lives.

Rehab is a necessary part of addiction recovery because it helps people to become free from addiction safely. There are some substances that cause so much change to the body, that a medical detox is needed to help you stop taking these safely. For example, suddenly stopping taking drugs or alcohol can cause withdrawal symptoms such as seizures that require medical attention.

What are the different types of rehab?

There are two main forms of rehab that clients can embark on. These can be accessed at rehab treatment centres; so, you must attend the centre for your addiction treatment programme. The first option is outpatient treatment. This can be accessed as a free service or through private funding, and is less disruptive to your life. The second option is inpatient treatment which is mainly accessed at private rehab services, so you must pay for this type of treatment yourself (although some health insurance providers or charities may cover this). The type of treatment you choose will depend on your personal circumstances.

Outpatient rehab treatment

Outpatient rehab treatment is provided to clients whilst they continue living at home. This form of treatment works by clients visiting the rehab treatment centre for their planned appointments, and then going home to practise what they have learned. This can be a good option for people who have commitments at home that they are unable to leave.

In outpatient rehab, you are supported by a team of medical and therapeutic professionals during your treatment programme. They will facilitate group therapy and help you to stay on track with progress during your planned appointments. As the support is only offered during your visits to the rehab centre, this treatment is also referred to as day rehab. There is a high demand for this because it is available on the NHS as a free service. Many people with addiction problems cannot afford to pay for rehab themselves because their addiction takes most of their money. This can make accessing the support harder as there can be long waiting lists for free NHS services. The Guardian found that the total cost of treating drugs and alcohol addictions in 2017 was over £3.5 billion!

Inpatient rehab treatment

Inpatient rehab treatment is provided whilst clients temporarily live in the inpatient rehab treatment centre. This requires a greater commitment because you have to put your life on hold. However, this can also provide a greater chance for clients to break free from their lifestyle triggers. This is because inpatient treatment provides clients with the ability to remove themselves from lifestyle triggers that may usually contribute to their addiction. It is a residential rehabilitation where clients stay at rehab centres for the duration of their treatment. Many people find this form of treatment programme more desirable because it offers a safe space to focus on recovery whilst receiving professional support 24 hours a day. You stay alongside other clients embarking on rehabilitation, forming support networks for ongoing recovery, even after you leave rehab. The rehab centre has all of the necessary amenities you need for a comfortable stay.

What to expect at rehab

Depending on the type of rehab that you have chosen, you can expect to receive your treatment either whilst staying at home or living in a hospital or rehab facility. The more severe forms of addiction, such as drug addiction, often require a residential rehabilitation service.

Before starting any treatment, a health professional will offer you an appointment to discuss your addiction. They will ask about your impulses, your lifestyle, and recent changes in your life. You may also have to provide a sample of urine to be tested for drugs and alcohol. After this you may be assigned an allocated worker to be your named person during your rehab treatment.

After being admitted to rehab your treatment will consist of the following:

  • Detox – this is a period of supported abstinence. Completing a detox as your first form of addiction treatment is crucial for your engagement in the remainder of the rehabilitation. This is because harmful substances alter your brain functioning, so you will engage best with the remaining treatment when you are free of addictive substances.
  • One-to-one therapy – after your detox, you will receive one-to-one therapy which will be a form of talking therapy that you do with a therapist. This will help you to face your past and think honestly about what causes you to use something addictive. This works by giving you a safe space to talk about your feelings and experiences to help you work through the underlying problems that contribute to your addiction.
  • Group therapy – group therapy involves a group of people attending rehab discussing their lives, addiction and issues together. It can be reassuring to hear other people’s stories, and give you confidence that you can recover from your situation. A professional from your rehab centre will facilitate the group therapy to ensure that everybody feels conformable contributing. You will also learn healthy coping mechanisms and tools to help you avoid addiction triggers.
  • Holistic therapies – your rehabilitation may also involve holistic therapy such as mindfulness, yoga, art therapy and exercise to help you learn about yourself and become more confident in yourself. This can help clients to lead a healthy and happy lifestyle.

The benefits of rehab

Rehab offers the best prospect of long-lasting change because it not only addresses the physical addiction, but it also targets psychological and social areas of addiction to help you abstain from substances outside of rehab. There are many free outpatient treatment services available that will offer support alongside a detox, but it can be difficult to abstain from substances once this treatment has ended. Inpatient treatment is the more intensive option and gives you the tools and techniques that give you the best chance of long-term abstinence to transform your life for the better.

Other benefits of attending rehab include:

  • Receiving evidence-based therapies.
  • Embarking on holistic treatments.
  • Meeting other people that are going through similar situations.
  • You have a safe space to work through your rehab programme.
  • You can be removed from triggers that tempt you to relapse.
  • Your family and friends can be involved in your treatment for additional support.
  • All rehabilitation programmes are CQC registered, offering greater assurance that you are in safe hands.
  • You have a choice over what type of rehab you go to.
Rehab meeting

What are the stages of rehab?

Modern rehabilitation facilities have become more creative when offering treatment to clients in need of addiction support.

Some rehab providers offer treatment programmes in stages, which are as follows:

Stage 1

Stage one of modern rehabilitation consists of a short rehabilitation programme that can last anytime from two to twelve weeks. The duration of your stay is dependent on your level of addiction. People with more severe addictions will usually have a longer rehab stay. Stage one of treatment offers an intensive intervention as a “fast track” to breaking the cycle of addiction.

Stage 2

Stage 2 of rehabilitation treatment is an extension of stage 1, providing a longer rehabilitation stay to address other areas of addiction other than just the physical addiction itself. It offers more life skills to help clients develop healthy lifestyles that can help them stay free from addiction.

Stage 3

Stage 3 offers a more long-term rehabilitation treatment where clients may live in supported living accommodation and have professionals on hand to support them reintegrate back into society following their period of addiction. This helps clients to maintain an addiction free life and helps them to get back on track with employment and maintaining their homes.

How long is rehab?

Rehab can range in duration depending on the need of the client. This means that rehabilitation is bespoke to each individual client. The minimum rehabilitation programme is for at least two weeks; with some clients receiving treatment in hospitals or supported accommodation for up to two years. Clients who are using free rehabilitation services will be discharged upon professional advice when the professional assesses that the client is ready to return to their normal life. However, if you have purchased private rehabilitation, you can be more in control of the duration of your treatment, paying to extend your stay if you feel this is necessary.

What happens after rehab?

Once clients are discharged from rehab, their next goal is to incorporate all that has been taught in rehab into daily life. To help you do this, there is often access to aftercare services which offer you continued support as you embark on the next stage of your recovery journey from addiction. After completing a treatment programme with most rehabilitation providers, you will automatically be enrolled on to an aftercare programme to access continued support. It can be a little daunting to restart your life after rehab, so aftercare will give you ongoing help and advice to help you stay free of addictive substances or habits.

Throughout your rehab journey it is likely that you will have made friends with other people on a similar recovery journey that you may like to stay in touch with. This is called peer support, and can be achieved independently or through attending ongoing group therapy to help you stay motivated. As well as this, aftercare programmes allow access to information and advice from trained professionals for any times that you may feel triggers in your lifestyle.

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About the author

Maria Reding

Maria Reding

Maria has a background in social work and marketing, and is now a professional content writer. Outside of work she enjoys being active outdoors and doing yoga. In her spare time she likes to cook, read and travel.

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