NHS rehab

Addiction is a condition that requires ongoing treatment to manage, and with many individuals struggling to pay for addiction help, the NHS can be a great resource in getting those who require urgent support the assistance they need. While private rehabilitation centres require a payment to access services, addiction treatment through the NHS is usually free.

However, while the addiction treatment offered by the NHS does not incur a fee, this can also affect their services, meaning they are often unable to provide the same level of care as private rehab centres. Let’s take a look at how NHS rehabs work, what they offer and things to take into consideration when seeking out treatment for yourself or a loved one.

  • Jump to
  • What are NHS rehab facilities?
  • What do NHS rehabs offer?
  • Things to consider before applying to NHS rehabs
  • Get help today
  • Frequently asked questions

What are NHS rehab facilities?

NHS rehab services exist to help those struggling with addiction access the vital treatment they need to begin their recovery journeys. Addiction is a highly treatable condition and will usually require medical supervision and regular care to confront.

The NHS can be an excellent tool for those who cannot afford private rehab treatment. Unfortunately, however, with 275,896 adults in contact with drug and alcohol services between April 2020 and March 2021, gaining access to the right channels for care with the NHS can be a rather complicated and intimidating process.

What do NHS rehabs offer?

Before we go any further, it is important to clarify that there is no such thing as an NHS residential rehab. However, it is possible to be referred to a private residential rehab through the NHS, either by a doctor or occasionally commissioned through a local trust or organisation. This can be provided either free of charge, or at a subsidised fee. However, with local services overstretched, it can be extremely difficult to gain a referral to begin treatment. Residential rehab is often considered a last resort for clients, as it incurs quite a high cost, and public funding for addiction treatment through the NHS is limited.

However, there are other services provided by the NHS to treat addiction, some of which include:

Medically assisted detox

NHS rehabs for alcohol and drug treatment can provide both inpatient and outpatient detox to clients, using medicines to help manage those more uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms whilst also ensuring it is done safely. However, with increasingly high demand and pressure for treatment, as well as budget cuts, there may not be enough beds available for those who require support. This is important to remember, as many of those in need of immediate treatment can often remain on waiting lists for months, which can pose great risks to those in urgent need of care.

Addiction counselling

In providing support for addiction, the NHS can offer various treatments and addiction therapies such as group counselling and, if necessary, individual therapy to support those suffering from addiction. This will all be dependent on individual circumstances and requirements. However, waiting times for individual counselling can be quite long, sometimes eight weeks or more before treatment begins.

Referrals to other community-led organisations

For those unable to afford treatment at a private rehab, the NHS can direct you to community-based services that offer support for those struggling with addiction. These services can include:

  • Group counselling
  • Support groups
  • Access to addiction charities

Free inpatient rehabs

While it is true that the NHS does not operate its own residential rehab, it is still possible to consult with other outside groups that provide services, such as free alcohol rehab and free drug rehab.
Some useful sites that you can refer to for more information about free rehabs include:

While these facilities are beneficial in providing access to treatment for those who require urgent support, resources are often stretched to meet the needs of all clients. This can often mean that you will have less time with therapists and a limited number of resources to cater to your needs.

NHS funded rehabs

It is possible to access private inpatient rehabs and have your stay funded through the NHS. Unfortunately, though, these services can be very difficult to secure, with a strict criterion in place to determine the severity of the client’s condition. It is also important to remember that an individual in need of treatment will not be immediately referred to an inpatient facility, and clients will often find themselves jumping through hoops to gain access to the care they feel they need.

Things to consider before applying to NHS rehabs

While the NHS offer an essential service to all of those in need of support, there are some factors that must be considered prior to care, which involve:

Waiting times

Findings have shown that prior to the pandemic in February 2020, there were already 4.43 million people waiting for some form of care from the NHS. Since then, the latest figures from April 2022 show a record of over 6.48 million people waiting for treatment. This is important to note as it is likely that accessing support for addiction through the NHS may require you to wait long periods of time, which can be risky if your condition is severe.

Lack of funding

Unfortunately, with tight budgets and increasing demand, only the most severe cases are often successful in getting referred to a residential rehab clinic. Trying to obtain funding can be a very lengthy process; therefore, it is likely you will need to engage with less intensive treatments first before being considered for residential care.

Lack of choice

While treatment at a private rehab often implements a variety of different therapeutic models tailored to the individual, NHS treatments can be quite limited given their lack of space and funding. For example, instead of inpatient treatment, support for addiction might involve sessions at a drop-in day centre that is only available for care during working hours. With many programmes oversubscribed, it is likely that you will be placed into a treatment that does not take your personal needs into consideration.

Demand for treatment

There seems to be an increasing demand for care. As of February 2022, for example, the NHS has needed to open two new gambling addiction clinics in an attempt to meet the needs of those suffering, and this still leaves a lot of individuals in need of help waiting for guidance.

Get help today

Though the NHS is a wonderful institution that provides an incredible service to all UK residents, it is important to be realistic in regard to care, reminded that their service is simply not equipped to provide residential rehab to all those who need it. However, there are a lot of people out there available to offer help in getting you on the road to recovery, and a little support can go a long way. Here at UKAT, we have a team of advisors who are always available to address any concerns you might have about treatment. Give us a call today on 0800 511 8111.

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Frequently asked questions

How can I get into an NHS rehab?
You need to contact your GP for advice about seeking addiction treatment. Alternatively, there are various organisations that specialise in assisting people struggling with an addiction, and there will likely be treatment services in your local area that can offer support.
Are there any other organisations that offer free treatment besides the NHS?
Yes. With a number of charities that specialise in helping those who suffer from addiction, those within the local community are a great resource to get you on the road to recovery. While this will be dependent on where you live and what treatment you seek, you can find organisations that may help.
Does the NHS offer inpatient treatment?
While outpatient addiction treatment is available for free through the NHS, they offer inpatient treatment for services like medical detox, and residential rehabilitation is only available through referral to other private addiction centres.
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If you successfully complete our 90-day inpatient treatment programme but experience a relapse within 30 days of leaving, we will welcome you back for complimentary 30 days of treatment.*

* Click here to learn more or contact UKAT directly for rehab availability.

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