Private Alcohol Rehab - What To Beware!

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Private Alcohol Rehab - What To Beware!

The demand for addiction treatment and recovery services has led to rapid growth in private alcohol rehab centres. Unfortunately, the thriving for-profit rehab facilities offering inpatient and outpatient drug and alcohol addiction services are largely unmonitored. As a consequence, there is a risk of being part of rehab scams and unethical practices. [1]

The best way to protect people who are seeking private alcohol or drug rehab is by providing information about what to beware of when researching private rehab clinics.

Many private drug and alcohol rehab facilities work hard to provide honest and high quality care. However, there is also a risk of seeking support through a private alcohol rehab programme that engages in unethical practices such as patient brokering, deceptive marketing tactics, and over-billing. [2]

Some common forms of corrupt practices in private drug and alcohol rehab include:

Patient Brokering  

Patient brokering takes various forms. Patients new to treatment are vulnerable to the "selling approach", where brokers are paid a finder's fee for referring patients to their rehab programme. Sometimes agreements are made between recovery residences (e.g., sober houses) and treatment centres, or between two separate treatment centres, involving patient brokering. [3]

In an approach called "lead buying", treatment centres bid for patient referrals and leads. Call centres earn a commission based on the number of referrals that are placed. Call centre agents pose as caregivers without the knowledge of the patient, and auction them to the highest bidding private rehab clinic. Treatment facilities that appear as separate centres may all route referrals to the same call centre. [4]

Patient Enticement  

Patient enticement is the practice of providing incentives (e.g., money, food, gifts) to get patients to enter, stay with, or switch rehab facilities. [5]

Listing Hijacks 

Google Business or Google Maps are susceptible to edits. Unaffiliated individuals can go into an organisation's profile and alter the contacts to reroute calls and online correspondence to other residential alcohol rehab facilities. Changing listed addresses deceives patients about the actual location of the rehab clinic. [6]

Misleading Language Or Misrepresentation Of Services 

Private alcohol and drug rehab facilities may deny their affiliations with other facilities or organisations. They may inaccurately portray their accreditation status, the services that they provide, the types of conditions that they treat, the credentials of their staff, and the types of insurance they accept. They may inaccurately list the rehab clinic's location, amenities, or facilities. 

Patient Privacy Violations 

Some private rehab centres may violate HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) regulations by using their patients' private information as a marketing pitch. [7]

Insurance Overbilling and Fraud 

Insurance over-billing occurs when a facility bills an insurance company excessively for unnecessary treatment or services. Under the guise of free insurance or care, patients are enrolled in insurance plans utilizing false addresses to take advantage of the change in address exception, which permits an individual to get coverage outside of the open enrolment period. Unethical rehab clinics may also sign-up patients, without their knowledge, in premium plans that offer generous coverage, (e.g., out-of-network coverage and low out-of-pocket costs) so that they get reimbursed at a higher rate from other plans or providers.

There can be a significant rehab cost for people who, due to the long wait to get publicly-funded residential rehabilitation treatment, are seeking private services. Although there are good private rehab clinics available, these facilities do not always have the same standards and regulations that a publicly-funded, accredited centre would. [8]

Private Alcohol Treatment - What To Beware!

Beware if the service is a housing support service and not an alcohol care home service. A housing support service helps vulnerable groups acquire and maintain suitable homes. Housing support is for individuals currently experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness. [9] The staff at these services may not be qualified to deliver various therapeutic training methods and programmes to help those on their pathway to long-term recovery from alcohol addiction.

Beware of unqualified programmes. Confirm the type of programming offered at the facility by directly calling them or checking out their website. It is also important to note the qualifications of the staff involved.

Beware of admission processes. It is important to receive a complete medical examination on arrival. If this is not part of the service, the patient runs the risk of experiencing withdrawal symptoms or not receiving appropriate medical care.

What Factors Into The Cost Of Addiction Treatment? 

The factors that influence the cost of addiction treatment vary between each centre. Generally, these factors include:

Type Of Centre

There is a significant difference between inpatient treatment and outpatient treatment. The former is more expensive because of accommodation and intensive care. Generally, outpatient rehab cost can range from $5,000 to $10,000, while you can pay $500 per session in outpatient care.

Standard outpatient treatment consists of services like detox, counselling, and group therapy.

Inpatient treatment, which is sometimes known as residential treatment, is more intensive and comes with higher costs. It requires the patient to check themselves into a safe environment to overcome their alcohol addiction. Patients stay at a facility where they receive 24/7 medical supervision. The cost of alcohol rehab programmes can range from $2,000 for the most basic services to $40,000 a month for comprehensive services.

The cost of these programmes varies depending on the programme and the location of the facility. A rehab clinic in an area with a higher cost of living can be more expensive. [10]

Treatment Types

The treatment options required by the patient will also affect the cost of treatment. Some people do not need detox when they go for private alcohol rehab or drug addiction treatment. For instance, cocaine users often do not require medical detox because the withdrawal symptoms are not severe. Comparably, individuals who use heroine, are experiencing alcohol withdrawal syndrome, or have alcohol use disorder usually need to undergo the detox process.

Those requiring detox from substance use (including misuse of prescription drugs) or drinking alcohol will pay more. Outpatient detox can range between $1,000 to $1,500. Most private alcohol rehab centres factor the cost of medical alcohol detox into the cost of the programme. Substances with dangerous drug and alcohol physical withdrawal symptoms have a higher cost for treatment. [11]

Therapy sessions also determine the cost of treatment. Typically, patients are required to attend therapy sessions and engage in addiction therapy or alcohol rehab work. The types of therapies provided vary depending on facility, from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), to group, family, or individual sessions. [12]


The amenities provided by a rehab clinic typically come at an extra cost. These amenities can include gyms, yoga classes, swimming pools, private rooms, chefs, spa visits, tennis courts and more.

Luxury rehab facilities cost tens of thousands of dollars per month, in large part because of the amenities they offer. [13]

Length Of Stay

The duration of stay affects the cost of addiction treatment. For instance, some centres charge around $6,000 for a 30-day programme, while some charge around $20,000 for the same programme. Those requiring 60 or 90 day programmes will incur costs from $12,000 to $60,000. [14]

Treatment Setting

The location of the facility affects costs. Drug rehab clinics located in scenic or remote locations, such as near the mountains or the ocean, will cost more compared to those located near less scenic areas.


The type of medication needed in alcohol detox or drug rehab will affect the cost of treatment. Some patients do not require medical treatment for their addiction. Those struggling with opiate or alcohol addiction may pay up to several thousands of dollars for medication. For example, heroine users pay $4,700 for a year-long methadone treatment, $5,980 per year for buprenorphine-assisted treatment, and $14,112 per year for naltrexone-assisted treatment. [15]

Services Provided

The services offered at a facility also contribute to the cost of rehab. Some private rehab facilities offer more services in tandem with the traditional and standard options such as detox, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, 12-step programmes (such as Alcoholics Anonymous), and pharmacological management.

The patient may prefer a residential treatment centre that offers holistic, complementary, and adjunctive offerings (e.g. Acupuncture, art therapy, massage therapy, mindfulness meditation, and chiropractic care).

Services such as nutritional planning, fitness programmes, aftercare, and alumni services also exist. These services will come with different costs. Most facilities will allow the patient to choose which services they want. Holistic services are more likely to be offered in premium and luxury rehab. [16]

Mode Of Payment

Many patients pay for alcohol addiction treatment using health insurance. The amount the insurance covers will depend on the insurance provider. Given that not everyone has insurance, there are alternative ways to pay for treatment. The financing option chosen by the patient (e.g. loans or credit, borrowing from a loved one, or grants) will factor into the cost of treatment.

Families hoping to pay out-of-pocket can make payments of around $500 to $650 per day. Most programmes last for several weeks. [17]

Which Types Of Facilities Are Available? 

1. Inpatient Residential Rehab

Both short-term and long-term options are available when considering inpatient residential alcohol rehab. Long-term rehab can last around six to 12 months, while short-term rehab can last from three to six weeks. With short-term rehab, the treatment is brief but intensive. After three to six weeks of treatment, the patient transitions to therapy through an outpatient rehab clinic.

Long-term residential treatment involves 24-hour care in a safe environment, and can last for several months. One of the most popular methods used in this programme is the therapeutic community, which works to reintegrate members back to society. Both long-term and short-term treatment options involve detox, therapy, and aftercare planning. [18]

2. Partial Hospitalization Programmes

Partial hospitalization programmes (PHP) or day treatment programmes are treatment options that offer a high level of care while permitting patients to live at home during treatment. PHP offer services similar to that of inpatient or residential programmes. While programmes vary, patients typically go for treatment five days a week for about four to six hours daily. [19]

PHPs offer services that are like residential rehab treatment. They include: 

  • One-on-one therapy 
  • Family meetings 
  • Medication management 
  • Drug screening 
  • Group therapy 
  • Treatment of co-occurring mental disorders 

Some PHPs assist with medical difficulties caused by alcohol consumption or alcohol use disorder, including nutritional deficiencies and muscle wasting.

PHPs are a great option for those seeking treatment and have a strong support system outside the centre to help them maintain sobriety. It may also be a good option for those struggling to continue treatment, have a co-occurring disorder, continue to drink alcohol, or require additional support for relapse prevention.

The cost of PHP is lower compared to residential care. In most instances, families pay $350 to $450 per day. Further, these programmes last for weeks, not days. [20]

3. Individualised Drug Counselling

Individualised drug counselling seeks to help the patient overcome alcohol dependence and rebuild their life. This can be helpful for an individual who no longer wants to drink alcohol and needs support with this. Individualised drug counselling also addresses areas of impaired functioning such as unemployment, family, and social relations.

Individual counselling mostly targets a client's short-term goals. It offers an individualised approach to treatment to help the patient develop coping strategies for relapse prevention. Most programmes include 12-step participation. Medical professionals can also make referrals for supplemental medical, psychiatric, employment, and other services as needed. [21]

4. Group Counselling

Many therapeutic settings offer group counselling to help the patients reap the benefits of belonging to a social group. Studies show that positive outcomes are achieved when group therapy is combined with individual therapy. [22]

5. Nonprofit And State-Funded Rehabs

Unlike private rehab, nonprofit and state-funded rehab is either free or comes at a reduced cost. These facilities are available so that individuals can get assistance regardless of their income. The Salvation Army is one example of a nonprofit organization that offers free rehab. There are also government funded facilities for low-income earners. [23]

6. Inpatient Rehab

Inpatient rehab facilities are designed to provide the patient with intensive treatment for alcohol and drug rehab. During inpatient rehab, patients reside in a substance-free facility where they receive 24/7 medical care and therapeutic support. [24]

Inpatient rehab facilities offer effective addiction treatment for those battling excessive alcohol consumption or alcohol use disorder. They are also suitable for those suffering from co-occurring mental or behavioural disorders.

7. Outpatient Drug Rehab

Outpatient drug or alcohol rehab is an alternative for those who seek treatment but do not require or are not interested in an inpatient setting. Patients may prefer outpatient care so that they are able to continue attending to work and other responsibilities. Patients who have a stable personal support system and home environment may find outpatient treatment sufficient to meet their needs. [25]

Outpatient rehab clinics offer comprehensive addiction care and drug rehab. These clinics often provide a similar treatment plan as an inpatient setting, while allowing the patient to engage in their regular schedule outside of treatment. However, this may also make the patient more susceptible to encountering triggers that challenge their sobriety.

Outpatient alcohol rehabilitation is best suited for patients with mild addiction and a commitment to quit drinking. Outpatient rehab clinics are also an excellent "step-down" option after inpatient treatment. This treatment is often combined with sober living homes.

8. Sober Living Homes

Sober living homes can act as a transition between an inpatient setting and the outside world. They are a great option for those in addiction recovery who need time to reinforce what they learned while in alcohol or drug rehab. The patients get to strengthen their new healthy habits while still living in a structured and supportive environment.

The cost of a sober living home varies depending on location. Addiction rehab treatment centres can provide referrals and information on local sober living homes and their cost.

9. Drug And Alcohol Detox

Detox helps people manage withdrawal symptoms by making the path to recovery less painful. This is often the first phase of treating patients who are struggling with moderate to severe alcohol addictions, including alcohol use disorder. The two types of detox include medically and non-medically assisted detox. Medications such as Benzodiazepines, Disulfiram, and Naltrexone ease the severity of withdrawal symptoms. [26]

Professionals who work at detox centres are also equipped to support the patient through withdrawal symptoms and symptoms of alcohol use disorder while they safely transition to the next phase of recovery.

10. Faith-Based Facilities

Faith-based facilities prioritize spirituality in treatment. This alcohol rehab treatment is ideal for patients who want to be surrounded by like-minded individuals looking for guidance from a higher power to stay strong for the journey towards addiction recovery.

11. Support Groups

Support groups are important after alcohol rehabilitation as they help people in sustaining recovery. Many patients find these groups to be critical to their continued recovery. Support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous are free to attend and offer a much-needed supportive environment. There are also other groups such as Al-Anon, and Celebrate Recovery. Those interested in alternatives to 12-step programmes also have options such as SMART recovery. [27]

What Qualifications Do Rehab Programme Staff Require?

The relevant qualifications required by staff who work at rehab clinics will differ depending on their role. Like most organisations, alcohol rehab and drug rehab centres have executive and administrative staff. In addition, they have resident managers and housekeepers.

A rehab clinic that treats co-occurring conditions as well as drug addiction or alcohol use disorder will have a psychiatrist or a team of a psychiatrists in their facility. Depending on the degree of amenities offered, the rehab clinic may provide services including a lawyer, chef, life coach, massage therapist, nutritionist, or physical trainer. [28]

The National Institute of Drug Abuse points out that the relationship between a client and their treatment provider influences the chances of treatment success. [29] A professional environment creates a foundation of trust, which is conducive to successful treatment.

Many of the staff working at an accredited alcohol rehab clinic will have years of experience. . Alcohol rehab is highly specialized, and for that reason, the administrative, executive, and professional staff members hold degrees in their respective areas of expertise.

In some alcohol rehab clinics, the staff members have a history of addiction and are now engaged in sober living. These staff members have dedicated their lives to helping other individuals struggling with alcohol abuse achieve an alcohol-free life. These staff members combine the best of both worlds, as they have first-hand experience, as well as academic and clinical training to become staff at a drug and alcohol rehab facility.

Some alcohol rehab centres include staff biographies on their website. The job titles of staff can offer insight into the type of qualifications to expect. 

The type of staff employed at drug and alcohol rehabilitation programmes include: 

  • Detox specialist 
  • Psychotherapist 
  • Licensed counsellor 
  • Case manager 
  • Medical doctor
  • Psychiatrist  
  • Programme director 
  • Social worker/clinician/counsellor 

Licensure indicates that the staff are professionals and have the training needed to provide care. If the staff are not licensed, then it signals that they may not have the necessary requirements to provide effective care. Some of the credentials held by addiction treatment professionals may include LADC (Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counsellor), CAC (Certified Addictions Counsellor), CCDP (Certified Co-occurring Disorders Counsellor), or LPC (Licensed Professional Counsellor). [30]

Since drug and alcohol rehab centres are government regulated, the treating professionals are subjected to a stringent state credentialing process. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration released a National Review of State Alcohol and Drug Treatment Programmes and Certification Standards for Substance Abuse Counsellors and Prevention Professionals that show staff's relevant qualification requirements depending on state. [31] The report also covers compliance requirements that a rehab centre must follow, including licensing, certifications, and credentialing of rehab staff.

For instance, social workers in a drug or alcohol rehab facility are required to have an undergraduate or graduate degree and a certain number of clinical hours. After that, they are required to pass the necessary state exams in order to receive the license to practice.

Any act of noncompliance is a sign that the rehab centre is not up to standard.

Compare Rehab Facilities And Make An Informed Decision

Your Rehab Needs And Goals

Select a treatment clinic that offers a variety of treatment options. Most patients have certain needs and behaviours that they would like to address while in rehab. It may be difficult for some to distinguish their needs, goals, and how to accomplish them. The patient can work with a treatment provider and complete an initial assessment for substance or alcohol abuse which can help target goals for treatment. For example, someone who has co-occurring mental health and substance use struggles will require a treatment plan that offers both substance abuse and mental health treatment.

Research Various Rehab Options

Alcohol rehabilitation facilities differ depending on the care given, duration of treatment, and intensity of the programme. The patient can learn about a specific drug or alcohol rehab programme by going to their website or calling the facility directly to learn more.

Patient-Centred Approach

A good drug and alcohol rehab facility puts the needs of the patient first. They prioritise the well-being of the patient and create a treatment plan that comprehensively covers the patient's needs. The best way to know if a rehab centre is patient-centred is by asking someone who has attended that clinic. You can research that alcohol rehab facility online or ask around in your fellowship support meeting.

Treats Alcohol Addiction As An Illness

An excellent private alcohol rehab centre treats alcoholism as an illness. Such a facility is committed to helping its patients by providing an alcohol rehab treatment to set them on the journey to long-term recovery.

Personally Visit The Facility

If possible, the patient can visit the drug and alcohol rehab facilities to take a tour and learn more about their programme. This will allow the individual to get a feel of the centre's quality and atmosphere. Good rehab clinics have staff who are friendly and courteous.

You should note that reputable private alcohol centres are accredited by The Joint Commission or the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). Both bodies are independent and nonprofit, and base their accreditation on industry performance standards and demonstrated results, quality and value. State licensing is different from accreditation, particularly because each state has its own licensing requirements. [32] [33]

In addition, alcohol addiction centres need a certification from LegitScript before they advertise on Google and Facebook. This certification ensures that only legitimate alcohol rehabs advertise their services. However, this is not a mandatory requirement. [34]

By considering these factors, the individual can choose the facility that is best for them. The patient can make an informed decision by determining what characteristics are essential to their treatment, and pick the drug or alcohol rehab facility that suits their needs.

Once the patient identifies the facility they would like to attend, they can contact the drug or alcohol rehab programme to discuss next steps. Every drug rehab centre has its own admissions process. Many facilities will allow the patient to enrol via their website or by telephone. The patient should ensure that they follow the admission procedure for successful enrolment. 

Choosing the right private alcohol rehab clinic can be challenging. With so many private drug and alcohol treatment centres, it can be difficult to find the one that will meet the needs and requirements of the individual.

It is not always obvious if a private drug or alcohol rehab facility practices by ethical standards. The best way to protect people seeking private alcohol or drug rehab is by providing knowledge about what to beware in private rehab clinics.

About the author

Laura Morris

Laura Morris is an experienced clinical practitioner and CQC Registered Manager with over twenty years experience, over ten of which have been as an Independent Nurse Prescriber.

She has held a number of senior leadership roles in the substance use and mental health sector in the NHS, the prison service and in leading social enterprises in the field.

Last Updated: January 11, 2024