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Call Now for Immediate Confidential Help and Advice 02038 115 619

24 hours rehab
Immediate Access for help and advice
24 hours rehab

Call Now for Immediate Confidential Help and Advice 02038 115 619

24 hours rehab
Immediate Access for help and advice

Rehab for Drug Addiction Explained

Drug addiction – whether to legal prescription medications or any of a huge array of illegal substances – is a huge problem in the UK. It affects hundreds of thousands of people and claims thousands of lives each year, as well as placing great strain on emergency and social care services, the police and many other public bodies. However, there is a silver lining to this picture, in the form of a growing number of excellent drug addiction treatment services and facilities working across the country to turn users’ lives around and get them back on the road to health and happiness. If you are struggling with a drug addiction of any kind, read on to find out about the type of help you may be able to access and how to access it.

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Where to Get Help for Drug Addiction/Substance Abuse

It is a cliché but, often, the hardest part of getting help for drug addiction is accepting the existence of a drug problem in the first place. Once someone suffering from drug addiction has reached that point and have decided to get help, they will be able to choose between numerous different treatment options. Speaking with a professional, such as an addiction specialist, can make all the difference when it comes to making the right choice. Along with a GP, an addiction specialist can help pick the right addiction rehabilitation centre depending on health and social needs.

Importance of treating drug addiction & when to seek treatment

Some drugs are more dangerous than others, but regardless of the nature of a drug addiction, addiction itself can ruin a life. Alongside any damage to the health that may result, addiction can destroy treasured relationships, finances, careers and much else. Once noticed, an addiction problem must be confronted right away; we must act as quickly as possible to tackle addiction, to stop it from doing even more harm.

There is never a wrong time to seek help for drug addiction. However, if there was already an attempt to stop taking drugs, or addiction has begun to harm us or our loved ones, reaching out to an addiction specialist is probably the best path to a successful recovery.

Understanding drug addiction treatment and rehab options

There are now a great many organisations and clinics in the UK with substantial experience in the treatment of drug addiction; it is an increasingly sophisticated practice. However, not every drug rehab will be appropriate for each particular situation. Of those that are, some may prefer certain providers over others for a variety of reasons, including the location, the nature and duration of the treatment provided and the cost (if going down the private route).

Regardless of whether they opt for treatment provided by the NHS, one of the several charities active in the area or a private drug addiction treatment organisation, the most important thing is receiving this much needed help.

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There is a good pool of options for someone who needs an addiction treatment specialist. Depending on the preferences and health, each person suffering from an addiction can look into:

  • Private Rehab
  • Charities
  • NHS Options
  • Residential Care

Private rehab vs free treatment options for drug addiction

Understandably, some clients prefer to investigate free treatment options before venturing into the world of private rehab. The NHS and numerous charities offer free drug addiction treatment services, many of which are of satisfactory quality. However, places tend to be very limited, and waiting times can be prohibitive. Unfortunately, long waits for treatment can be extremely distressing, and many people prefer to get help immediately, which typically involves going down the private route. Of course, this comes at a cost, but many clinics now provide credit or easy payment terms, while private health insurance pays for some clients’ treatment.

Executive/luxury rehab programmes for drug addiction

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If a person is working in a high-pressure, senior role, they may feel that taking time away from work might prove detrimental to their career. However, some treatment organisations now offer executive rehab programmes designed for clients in such jobs. Amenities, such as videoconferencing and secure internet access, can ensure that they remain closely in touch with the office and can fulfil most if not all of their professional obligations.

Instead of the standard NHS rehabilitation offers or the options available through a standard private rehab, some may wish to consider a luxury rehab programme. There, treatment is provided in a high-end facility with standards of accommodation, cuisine and fitness services similar to those provided in luxury hotels.

What Happens in Drug Rehab

It is important to bear in mind that everyone’s journey through treatment and recovery is unique; moreover, no two facilities — not even those within the same treatment organisation — are identical. With that in mind, however, it is possible to give a rough guide to a typical experience of rehab for drug addiction.

Drug rehab admission process

It is in the rehabs’ interests — and, more importantly, those of their clients — to make the admission process as straightforward as possible. People making contact with them are often at breaking point, and any extra stress at this stage can prove extremely distressing and potentially bring about more harm. Usually, when you make contact with a treatment organisation, staff will request some necessary details about your addiction and your condition before recommending a particular clinic. At this stage, private providers usually request a deposit, and once that is covered, your place at the clinic will be confirmed, and you will be able to make your way there.

Drug addiction assessment

The first thing to expect upon entering rehab will be a health assessment; it will give doctors an understanding of your condition and the severity of the condition. Based on this initial assessment, the addiction team will create an individual addiction treatment plan, which will govern the rest of the treatment. A degree of flexibility is required; doctors will need to be able to respond to any developments — positive or negative — throughout the treatment process. If the chosen rehab does not provide a perosnalised plan, there may be a problem with the offered adaptability. One-size-fits-all treatments usually don’t fit all.

It is imperative to be completely honest with the addiction team during the assessment stage. Supplying them with incorrect information may create various issues including elements — such as the prescription of certain medications — that could be harmful.


Treatment will only be successful when there is acceptance of having a drug problem and a genuine desire to stop taking drugs; admitting to a problem is a crucial first step on the path through treatment and into recovery.

Some find it difficult; they may see it as a weakness or wish to avoid confronting the reality of what addiction has led to. Nevertheless, no matter how hard it may be, it is imperative that to make such an admission, as only then will it be possible to devote oneself.
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Medically assisted/controlled detoxification

Following the assessment, comes the first phase of treatment: detoxification (detox), during which the whole system is cleared of any substances of abuse. Depending on the nature and severity of the drug addiction, withdrawal symptoms may appear during detox. If, based on the initial assessment, doctors feel these symptoms may be especially unpleasant and distressing and/or potentially dangerous, they may prescribe medication immediately following the assessment in order to get a headstart on alleviating these aspects of the withdrawal syndrome. All medication taken during the treatment process will be closely monitored by the medical team at the rehab facility.

Further treatment will be futile if drugs are still present in the system. Detox is an indispensable part of treatment. Whether or not the detox is medically assisted, the resident team of addiction experts will be on-hand 24/7 for optimal comfort and safety, as withdrawal syndrome can sometimes be dangerous.


The next phase of treatment, the rehabilitation phase, has therapy at its heart. Once clean of all unwanted external stimuli and any withdrawal symptoms have disappeared or subsided, therapy sessions will start. The therapists and counsellors will focus on helping the person suffering from an addiction to reveal and address the causes of the condition. Additionally, both the therapist and client will work together to achieve a better understanding of these underlying causes and find suitable counter-measures to them. During this phase, bespoke dietary and fitness plans, and sometimes rehab facilities such as a gym, pool, gardens will be an indispensable part of the rehabilitation process. We highly advise those who need an inpatient drug rehab to fully focus their research on places which offer bespoke treatment and, preferably, at least a tailored dietary plan.


At the end of the rehabilitation stay, recovery will not be complete simply because the inpatient treatment for drug addiction has been completed; recovery is a long-term, even lifelong process, with many potential challenges along the way. Vigilance and devotion are necessary to preserve the hard-earned abstinence. This is why the best UK drug rehabs typically offer up to a year’s free aftercare to ensure the optimal foundations for recovery.

What Is an Inpatient Rehab Programme?

When people think of rehab, they typically mean inpatient or residential rehabilitation, in which clients reside and receive treatment on-site (normally for between one and three months). Rehabs are safe, confidential, tranquil and substance-free locations conducive to healing and introspection. In an inpatient rehab programme, as well as being provided with therapy, medication and other elements of addiction treatment plan on-site, those suffering from addiction will have 24/7 access to medical professionals. They may also benefit from the presence of fellow fighters who can provide companionship, advice and support throughout the highs and lows of treatment.

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What Is Outpatient Rehab?

Although inpatient rehab is typically seen as the approach to treatment with the highest likelihood of long-term abstinence, many consider it inappropriate if they feel unable to take the time away from obligations such as family and work. If this is the case, outpatient treatment is what they would usually opt for.

With an outpatient drug rehabilitation, the treatment is mostly realised through visiting the place of treatment on a per-session basis (such as for therapy sessions, check-ups, prescription renewals, etc). However, most of the work regarding keeping track of the condition, being aware of triggers, and recording issues along the way, are left in the hands of the one fighting the addiction. While the flexibility this provides can be beneficial, outpatient options can be problematic in that they don’t remove the client entirely from their daily environment. This often makes cravings less manageable, and clients sometimes relapse during the treatment process.

Day programmes

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Some clinics offer day programmes, in which clients will attend the clinic for treatment during the daytime (for anywhere between one and seven days a week) before returning home or to other accommodation at night. Day programmes are considered particularly appropriate in specific scenarios: if the person suffering from addiction lives close to the clinic and does not have to travel far; if they have a robust support network they can rely on during any crises; if they have obligations at home such as a young baby that would make staying overnight away from home much more difficult, or if they have completed an addiction treatment plan but still desire ongoing support.

If none of those describes your situation, day programmes may not be appropriate for you; they may likewise be inappropriate if you suffer from dual diagnosis or any other co-occurring health issues that may complicate the drug addiction treatment process.

Intensive outpatient programmes

Created in response to the demands of modern life, intensive outpatient programmes are shorter and more intensive than traditional outpatient programmes, with clients attending the clinic for four or more sessions per week and sessions typically lasting between three and five hours – much longer than standard outpatient sessions. Because of the comparatively large amount of time, those suffering from addiction are able to spend outside the clinic, in an intensive outpatient programme, they will be required to engage in regular drug testing to ensure compliance.

Ongoing care

Ongoing care — another term for aftercare — is care provided following the completion of primary, and sometimes secondary, drug addiction treatment. Anyone who has gone through treatment usually requires supplementary assistance, such as counselling, as well as the further prescription of medication if the recovering client continues to suffer withdrawal symptoms (such as in cases of post-acute withdrawal syndrome, or PAWS).

A quality rehab will give an aftercare plan covering up to a year’s assistance after leaving the clinic. This plan may include a schedule of appointments (growing less frequent as recovery solidifies), as well as a commitment on the one being treated, ‘s part to participate in, for example, ongoing counselling or support group meetings like those provided by an organisation such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA).

How Is Medication Used to Treat Addiction?

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There is no pharmaceutical cure for drug addiction. However, medication may be prescribed for a number of purposes, including to reduce the frequency and severity of cravings, to act as a substitute for a dangerous and/or illegal substance of abuse, to help reduce drug intake, to alleviate certain withdrawal symptoms and reduce as much as possible the danger posed by withdrawal syndrome.

Medications used in addiction treatment & rehab

A significant number of medications have been approved by UK authorities for the treatment of drug addiction symptoms and co-existing disorders, though understandably not every medication is relevant in every case of addiction.

It is absolutely imperative that those suffering from addiction never attempt to self-medicate as some medications interact dangerously with others, or with certain substances of abuse, while some can cause problems for clients who suffer from health issues, such as dual diagnosis, that can complicate treatment.

People suffering from addiction must take medication in strict accordance with the instructions of the prescribing doctor.

  • Naltrexone (Vivitrol)
  • Buprenorphine (Buprenex)
  • Methadone
  • Disulfiram (Antabuse)
  • Acamprosate (Campral)
  • Paroxetine (Paxil)
  • Modafinil (Provigil)
  • Desipramine (Norpramin)
  • Mirtazapine (Remeron)
  • Bupropion (Buproban)
  • Gabapentin (Fanatrex)
  • Vigabatrin (Sabril)
  • Baclofen (Kemstro)
  • Topiramate (Topamax)

Psychotherapy for Drug Addiction Treatment

The treatment of drug addiction invariably has therapy at its heart. Taking the perspective of “healthy body, healthy mind”, if detox could be said to treat the body, therapy treats the mind — and both aspects of treatment need to be engaged in if the treatment is to be successful. Tackling only one of the many components will inevitably result in the possible overall failure of treatment. Both therapy and detox are required to achieve and then sustain the desired abstinence.

Coping-focused psychotherapy

Coping-focused psychotherapy models such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT) aim to enable clients to develop better-coping strategies than those they have employed in the past. As we grow from childhood through adolescence into maturity, we develop mechanisms to cope with the challenges with which we are confronted during our lives. In psychotherapy, coping means “to invest conscious effort to solve personal and interpersonal problems in order to try to master, minimise or tolerate stress and conflict. Unfortunately, the coping strategies some people develop prove insufficient, and many subsequently adopt substance abuse itself as a coping strategy, with obvious ramifications. In coping-focused psychotherapy, the therapist will work with the client to investigate how and why the client’s existing coping strategies have been unsuccessful, to help them learn from these failures and to create more effective and less harmful coping strategies that can be employed once the client leaves the clinic.

Social skills/interpersonal/growth psychotherapy

The connections between poor social skills, substance abuse and addiction are many and profound. Inadequate interpersonal skills can make it very hard, if not impossible, for a person to develop and maintain important relationships such as fulfilling romantic and sexual ones. This, in turn, can create significant psychological challenges that some people seek to resolve via negative coping strategies, including substance abuse.

Interpersonal psychotherapy sees the therapist and client working together to improve the client’s social skills, with the aim of enabling them to develop better and longer-lasting relationships of all kinds. This will reduce the severity and impact of any challenges linked to interpersonal interaction. Not only does this have benefits for the client’s life once they leave the clinic, but it can also make treatment itself easier and more effective as the client becomes able to express themselves more articulately during therapy.

Exploratory psychotherapy

Exploratory psychotherapy — also known as psychodynamic psychotherapy — examines the connections between past events and experiences and present behaviour. The better the client’s understanding of the origins of their problematic thought processes and behaviour, the more effectively they are typically able to address and remediate those factors. Often, trauma of one form or another in a client’s past is a major contributing factor to the development of addiction. Working extremely carefully (in recognition of the distress the exploration of traumatic events can cause), a therapist guides the client through past events and works with them to analyse, and gain maximal therapeutic benefits from, this exploration.

Successful exploratory therapy usually results in long-term improvements to mood regulation, self-awareness and self-esteem. These benefits often continue to be felt long after a client leaves rehab, and it is not unusual for clients who have gone through exploratory therapy as part of an addiction treatment plan to continue therapy for many years after the end of treatment.

Types of psychotherapy used in drug addiction treatment

Significant advances in psychotherapy have been made in the field of addiction in recent decades, with many new methodologies being developed to tackle drug addiction specifically. Of course, any given clinic can provide only a limited selection of those methodologies, so if you are keen on one therapeutic model, in particular, get in touch with an addiction specialist to find out which clinics, if any, might offer the therapy types you seek.

Some people need to try out various therapy models before settling on an approach that works best for them. Not all clinics allow such experimentation, however. We advise everyone to have an initial chat about their treatment and how personalised it will be before actually enrolling into their chosen drug rehabilitation programme.

  • Acceptance and commitment therapy
  • Art therapy
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy
  • Counselling
  • Dialectical behavioural therapy
  • Experiential therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Fitness therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Holistic therapy
  • Individual therapy
  • Meditation
  • Music therapy
  • Psychodynamic therapy

The Recovery Process

Treating drug addiction can be a difficult process as maintaining hard-won abstinence will not come easy. In some ways, the most difficult part of recovery only starts at leaving the clinic.

Elements of recovery

While in the clinic, it can sometimes be helpful to break the recovery process down into various distinct components, each of which can be seen as an independent part of the treatment process. Different types of therapy can help to develop different tools and techniques to help grow stronger in each of these elements of recovery.

  • Developing hope
  • Secure base
  • Sense of self
  • Supportive relationships
  • Empowerment
  • Social inclusion
  • Coping skills
  • Giving meaning

How Long Are Drug Rehab Programmes?

The length of drug rehab will be determined by a number of different factors, including physical and mental health, the severity and length of the addiction, the type of treatment programme and how the clients respond to treatment once it is underway.

Stays in residential drug rehab typically last for between one and three months; however, it is vital that people suffering from addiction retain a degree of flexibility regarding the timeframe for their treatment, because they may need to adjust that timeframe once they are in treatment. For example, if they respond especially well to treatment, their doctors can recommend them to leave the clinic earlier than planned. On the other hand, it may become clear that the client would benefit from an extension to the treatment programme.

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What Does Drug Rehab Cost in the UK?

It is difficult to give anything other than a very rough guide to potential treatment costs in the UK. Rates are affected by numerous factors including the type and duration of treatment and the standard of the clinic. Because of this very broad range of costs, it is vital to get precise costings from any clinic before actually attending the treatment programme. An addiction specialist can help in getting a better understanding of cost and may also be able to suggest more affordable treatment options.

Drug Addiction Recovery and Aftercare

Because recovery can be so difficult, even if the drug rehab stay has been a success, quality treatment organisations usually offer up to a year’s free aftercare. All who are suffering from an addiction should take advantage of every opportunity for ongoing care offered so that they make use of all the available support for their recovery.

Recovery and community

A strong support network is a hugely important factor in recovery, but we should not think only of family and friends when considering the support network to which we would have access. One silver lining to the UK’s addiction epidemic is the presence across the country of a large community of recovering users we can turn to for help in times of need and, in turn, provide help to. Supporting fellow recovering users can be of immense therapeutic value and can also help to resolve issues that may continue to be a burden after leaving the clinic.

Support groups

Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and various other drug addiction support groups are active across the UK, hosting meetings (usually on a weekly basis) where recovering users can come together to provide each other with advice and companionship. Attendance at such meetings is usually free, with the sole criterion for attendance being a commitment to abstinence.


NA operates on the 12-step model initially developed by the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Millions of people around the world have been helped by 12-step organisations (though the model may be incompatible with some people’s personal beliefs). An addiction specialist or a representative of the NA or AA can give more information on the subject.
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Ready to Start Drug Rehab?

Do not let yourself become one of the victims of addiction. No matter which substance you are addicted to, there is expert help available that can help you defeat your addiction and return to a life free of substance abuse. Call your GP and/or an addiction specialist to find out about treatment options.

Take control of your life — get started on the road to recovery

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You may feel you have lost control of your life to drugs and be unable to contemplate a life without them, but it is never too late to take back that control and achieve an abstinent life. Your GP and/or addiction specialist can guide you through the UK’s addiction treatment landscape and help you make the right choices for treatment. No matter how severe and crippling your addiction, you can get the support you need to conquer it. Making that initial connection with an addiction expert could be your first step on the road to recovery and to the life of happiness and success you want and deserve.
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