Private Alcohol Rehab - What To Beware!

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Alcohol addiction treatment is a big business that accrued $42 billion in 2020 [1]. There are at least 14,000 treatment centres and growing.

A total of 3.7 million people received treatment, but there's still a high number of people who need addiction treatment, and the facilities are full. 

The demand for treatment and recovery services has led to rapid growth in private alcohol rehab centres.

Unfortunately, the thriving for-profit rehab facilities offering in-patient and outpatient services have gone mainly unmonitored. Consequently, there are cases of rehab scams and unethical practices. 

The best way to protect people is by providing knowledge about what to beware in private alcohol rehab centre. 

No doubt there are private drug and alcohol rehab facilities that work hard to provide honest and quality care services. 

But there are scandals concerning shoddy facilities, patient brokering, deceptive marketing tactics, and overbilling. There are cases of unethical and illegal conduct in the field of medicine and healthcare.

But substance abuse disorder is riddled with such issues because the field has mainly been unmonitored compared to other medical conditions. 

Some of the common forms of corrupt practices in facing private drug and alcohol rehab are: 

Practice One: Patient Brokering  

This takes various forms. There's the lead selling approach where brokers are paid a finder’s fee for referring patients to their rehab programme. Patients new to treatment are vulnerable to this approach.

Also, there are agreements made between recovery residences (e.g., sober houses) and treatment centres or between two separate treatment centres involving patient brokering. 

Then there's lead buying, where treatment centres bid for patient referrals and leads. Call centres earn a commission based on the number of placed referrals.

Call centre agents pose as caregivers without the knowledge of the patient and auction them to the highest bidding private rehab clinic. Rehab centres that appear as separate centres may all route to the same call centre. 

Addiction tourism is also present. This is the practice of sending a patient to a treatment facility in another state rather than their home state. 

Practice Two: Patient Enticement  

This is the practice of providing unethical incentives (e.g., money, food, free rent, gifts) to get patients to enter, stay, or switch rehab clinics. 

Practice Three: Listing Hijacks 

Google Business or Google Maps are susceptible to edits. Unaffiliated individuals can go into an organization's profile altar the contacts to reroute calls and other online correspondents to other residential alcohol rehab facilities or call centres.

Changing listed addresses deceives patients about the actual location of the rehab clinic. 

Practice Four: Misleading Language or Misrepresentation of Services 

Treatment facilities may deny their affiliations to other facilities or organizations; they inaccurately portray their accreditation status, the services they provide, types of conditions they treat, the credentials of their staff, or accepted insurances.

They may inaccurately their rehab clinic's location, amenities, or facilities in various ways. 

Practice Five: Patient Privacy Violations 

Some private rehab centres have violated HIPPA regulations by using their patients' private information as a marketing pitch. 

Practice Six: Insurance Overbilling and Fraud 

This entails billing insurance companies excessively for unnecessary treatment or services. This was commonly seen in urine drug screens where $10 drug tests were carried out for two days and billed at $1,000.

Under the guise of free insurance or care, patients are enrolled in insurance plans utilizing false addresses to take advantage of the change in an address exception, which permits an individual to get coverage outside 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. 

Many people seeking addiction services pay huge sums to private facilities because of the long waits to get publicly funded residential rehabilitation treatment.

Of course, there are good private rehab clinics out there, but there's no regulation to keep these facilities in check so that they do not harm patients and their families. 

What to Beware of With Private Alcohol Treatment!  

Beware of the service is a housing support service and not an alcohol care home service.

A housing support service is what it says- a service that helps vulnerable groups acquire and maintain suitable homes. Housing support is for homeless people or people at significant risk of becoming so [2]. 

Beware:  If you struggle with addiction but have no housing issues, do not go for a housing support service. 

The staff is not qualified to deliver various therapeutic training methods and programmes to help those on their pathway to long-term recovery from alcohol addiction problems. 

Beware: Confirm first the types of programmes offered by directly calling the facility or checking out their website.

Also, check out the qualifications of the staff involved. 

Beware: Make sure you receive a complete medical examination on arrival from a medical doctor.

If this is not part of the service, you or your loved one runs the risk of an alcohol withdrawal grand small seizure, resulting in brain damage, physical complications, and even death. 

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's a significant difference between inpatient treatment and outpatient treatment. The former is more expensive because of accommodation and intensive care.

Generally, outpatient rehab costs can range from $5,000 to $10,000.; you can pay $500 per session in outpatient care.  

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

Inpatient treatment, or as it is known as residential treatment, is more intensive and costs higher. It requires patient to check themselves in a safe environment to overcome their addiction treatment.

Patients stay at a facility where they receive 24/7 medical supervision. The cost of inpatient rehab 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 a state with a higher cost of living like California can be more expensive.  

Treatment types 

The treatment options you need also affects the cost of treatment. Some people don't need detox when they go for drug addiction treatment.

For instance, cocaine users don't require medical detox because the withdrawal symptoms are not severe. But alcohol and heroin users usually need to undergo the detox process.  

Those requiring detox will pay more. Outpatient detox usually ranges from $1,000 to $1,500. Most inpatient rehab centres include the cost of medical alcohol detox in the cost of a programme.

Substances with dangerous detox side effects have a higher cost for treatment.  

Therapy sessions also determine the cost of treatment. Typically, patients are required to attend therapy sessions.

The types of therapies provided vary depending on facility, from cognitive behavioural therapy to group, family, or individual sessions.  


The amenities provided by a rehab clinic come at a cost. These amenities include gym, yoga classes, swimming pools, private rooms, award winning chefs, spa visits, tennis courts and so much more. Luxury rehabs are expensive because they offer extensive amenities.  

Luxury rehab centres cost tens of thousands of dollars per month. One of the reasons for this is the amenities they offer.  

Length of stay  

The duration of stay affects the cost of addiction treatment. For instance, some centres charge around £9,000 for a 30-day programme. But well-known centres charge around £20,000 for the same programme.

Those requiring 60- or 90-day programmes will incur costs from £15,000 to £60,000+.  

Treatment setting  

The location of the facility affects costs. Drug rehab clinics located in the mountains or on a beach are likely to cost more. Basically, centres located in scenic or remote locations will cost more compared to those located near your home.  


The type of medication needed affects the cost of treatment. In the UK most of the meds are included in the treatment programme. In the USA, some patients don't require medication for their addiction.

Those struggling with alcohol addiction or opiate addiction will have to pay several thousands of dollars for medication.

For instance, heroin users pay $4700 for a year-long methadone treatment, $5,980 per year for buprenorphine-assisted treatment and $14,112 per year for naltrexone-assisted treatment [3].  

Services provided  

Aside from the types of treatment, the services offered 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-steps, pharmacological management and so on.  

You can find a residential treatment centre that offers holistic, complementary, and adjunctive offerings, for example: Acupuncture, art therapy, massage therapy, mindfulness meditation, chiropractic care and more.  

You can find services such as nutritional planning, fitness programmes, Aftercare and alumni services, traditional housing and so on. These services will attract different costs.

Most facilities will allow you to choose which service you want. Furthermore, you are likely to find these holistic services in premium and luxury rehabs.  

Mode of payment  

How you choose to pay for rehab affects cost. Most patients pay for alcohol addiction treatment using health insurance. 

The amount the insurance covers depends on your insurance provider. You can pay using public, private, or military insurance.  

Not everyone has insurance, but there are other ways to pay for treatment. The financing option that you choose (e.g., loans or credit, borrowing loved ones, grants) factor in the cost of payment.  

Families hoping to pay out-of-pocket can make payments of around $500-650 per day, not forgetting that most programmes last for weeks [4].  

What Facilities are Available? 

1. Inpatient residential rehab 

There is long-term and short-term residential alcohol rehab. Inpatient rehab can either be short-term or long-term. Long-term rehab can last about 6 to 12 months, whereas short-term rehab can last about 3 to 6 weeks.

With short-term rehab, the treatment is brief but intensive. After three to six weeks of treatment, the patient transitions to outpatient therapy for some time. 

Long-term residential treatment entails 24-hour care in a safe environment for months.

One of the most popular methods used in this programme is the therapeutic community (TC), which works to reintegrate members back to society.

Both long-term and short-term treatment options involve detox, therapy, and aftercare planning. 

2. Partial hospitalisation programmes 

Partial hospitalization programmes (PHP) or day treatments are treatment options that offer a high level of care but permit patients to live at home during treatment.

PHP offer services are like that of inpatient/residential programmes. While programmes vary, patients typically go for treatment five days a week for about 4 to 6 hours daily. 

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

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

Some PHPs assist with medical difficulties caused by alcoholism, 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.

However, it may also be a good option for those struggling to continue treatment, have a higher chance of relapse, or have a co-occurring disorder. 

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

3. Individualised drug counselling 

Individualized drug counselling seeks to help the patient overcome alcohol dependence and rebuild their life. It addressed areas of impaired functioning such as unemployment, family, and social relations. 

Individual counselling mostly targets a client's short-term goals. It offers an individualized approach to treatment to help the patient develop coping strategies for maintaining abstinence.

Most programmes include 12-steps participation. Medical professionals also make referrals for needed supplemental medical, psychiatric, employment and other services. 

4. Group counselling 

Many therapeutic settings offer group counselling to help the patients reap the benefits of belonging to a social group.

However, studies show that positive outcomes are achieved when group therapy is combined with individual therapy. 

5. Non-profit, state-funded rehabs 

Unlike private rehab, low-income rehab is either free or comes at a reduced price. These facilities are available so that people can get assistance regardless of their income.

The Salvation Army is one example of a non-profit organization that offers free rehab. There are also state-funded facilities for low-income earners. 

6. Inpatient rehab 

Inpatient rehabs are designed to help the patient uncover every area contributing to their addiction.

During inpatient rehab, clients reside in a substance-free facility where they receive 24/7 medical care and therapeutic support. 

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

7. Outpatient rehab 

Outpatient rehab is an alternative for those seeking treatment but don't want to be put in a safe environment. There are several reasons why patients would prefer outpatient rehab.

For instance, patients who prefer outpatient care are unwilling to set aside their work or other responsibilities. Other patients are open to outpatient treatment because they come from supportive, stable homes. 

Outpatient rehabs offer comprehensive addiction care. They have a similar treatment plan as inpatient rehab, with the only difference being that the patient gets to engage with the real world.

Yet, it is because the patient is exposed to the real world that makes outpatient less effective than inpatient. As a result, patients are susceptible to encountering the triggers that challenge their sobriety. 

Outpatient alcohol rehabilitation is best suited for patients with mild addiction and a dedication to quit drinking.

This rehab treatment plan is also an excellent "step-down" option after inpatient treatment and is often combined with sober living homes. 

8. Sober living homes 

Sober living homes act as a transition phase between inpatient care and the outside world. They are a great option for those in recovery who need time to reinforce what they learned from rehab.

The patients get to strengthen their new healthy habits while still living in a structured environment. 

The cost of a sober living home varies depending on location. The price ranges from $450 to $800 a month, not counting incidentals.

Addiction rehab treatment centres can provide referrals and information on local sober living homes and their price. 

9. Drug and alcohol detox 

Detox helps people manage withdrawal symptoms making the path to recovery less painful. It's often the first phase of treating patients struggling with moderate to severe alcohol addictions.

There are two types of detox: medically and non-medically assisted detox. Medications such as Benzodiazepines, Disulfiram, and Naltrexone ease the severity of withdrawal. 

Detox centres professionals are also equipped to aid the patient in minimizing the risk of withdrawal symptoms and 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 addicts in sustaining recovery. Many patients find that they are critical to their continued recovery.

Support groups such as alcoholics anonymous are free to attend and they offer the much-needed supportive environment. There are also other groups such as Al-anon and celebrate recovery.

Those interested in non 12 steps also have options such as SMART recovery.  

What are the Relevant Qualifications of Staff to Administer a Rehab Programme? 

The relevant qualifications differ depending on the staff. Typically, alcohol rehab centres have an executive and administrative staff like most organizations. In addition, they have resident managers and housekeepers. 

A rehab clinic that treats co-occurring conditions and substance abuse will have a psychiatrist or a team of a psychiatrist in their facility.

In addition, depending on the degree of luxury or amenities offered, the rehab clinic could have a lawyer, chef, life coach, massage therapist, nutritionist, physical trainer and so on. 

The National Institute of Drug Abuse points out that the relationship between a client and his treatment provider influences the chances of treatment success [5].

While it's hard for a facility to determine the dynamics between the staff and their clients, a professional environment creates a foundation of trust, which is conducive to successful treatment. 

Most of the staff in an accredited alcohol rehab clinic have decades of experience. The executive and administrative staff members medical doctors or professional addiction specialists.

Even though these professionals don't offer their services directly to clients, they must have experience.

Alcohol rehab is highly specialized, and for that reason, the administrative, executive, and professional staff members are degree holders in their related areas plus work experience. 

In some alcohol rehab clinics, the staff members are recovered drug abusers who successfully beat addiction. In addition, these staff members have dedicated their lives to helping other addicts achieve an alcohol-free life.

Also, these staffs combine the best of both worlds as they have first-hand experience, academic and clinical training to become drug and alcohol rehab staff. 

Some alcohol rehab centres place their staff's biographies on their site. The staffs' titles also offer insight into the type of qualifications to expect. 

The type of staff at rehab centres include: 

  • Detox specialist 
  • Psychotherapist 
  • Licensed counsellor 
  • Case manager 
  • Doctor (MD), 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 what it takes 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) or CCDP (Certified Co-occurring Disorders Counsellor), or LPC (Licensed Professional Counsellor).  

Since drug and alcohol rehab centres are state 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 [6].

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 an alcohol rehab centre are required to have an undergraduate or graduate degree and a certain number of clinical hours.

After that, they are required to pass the state exams to receive the license to practice. The qualification requirements vary from state to state. 

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

Compare Rehab Facilities and make an Informed Decision 

Comparing rehab facilities and making an informed decision increases your chances of completing a programme successfully and maintaining sobriety in the long run.

When comparing rehab facilities, you need to consider the following: 

a). Your rehab needs and goals 

Go for a treatment clinic that offers a variety of treatment options depending on your needs. Most patients have certain needs and behaviours that they would like to address. 

But it may be hard to distinguish your needs, goals and how to accomplish them. You can work with a treatment provider and complete a substance abuse evaluation to help you uncover your needs.

For instance, you may be struggling with a co-occurring disease, and you haven't realized it. In that case, you will require a treatment plan that offers both substance abuse and mental health treatment. 

b). Research the various rehab options 

Alcohol rehabilitation facilities differ depending on the care given, duration of treatment and how intensive the programme is.

You can learn how an alcohol rehab programme works by checking out their website. Also, you can call the facility directly to learn more. 

c). Patient-centred approach 

A good alcohol rehab facility puts the needs of the patient first. They prioritize 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. 

d). Treats alcohol addiction as an illness 

An excellent private alcohol rehab centre treats alcoholism as an illness and doesn't handle its patients like crazy people who have done wrong.

Instead, 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. 

e). Personally visit the facility 

If the private alcohol rehab facilities you've listed are near your home, you can take time to visit them personally. This will allow you to have a feel of their quality and atmosphere.

If you're unable to make the visits, you can ask a friend or family member to do so on your behalf. 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 non-profit. They base their accreditation on industry performance standards plus demonstrated results, quality and value.

State licensing is different from accreditation, particularly because each state has its licensing requirements. 

In addition, alcohol rehabilitation 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. 

Choosing the right facility means that you have considered all the factors covered here.

You make an informed decision by determining what characteristics are essential to you, and you pick the alcohol rehab clinic that suits your needs.

You may not find a perfect match, but you can find the right alcohol rehab centre that will help you get started on the road to recovery. 

Once you identify the right facility, it is time to commit to the alcohol rehab programme. Every drug rehab centre has its admissions process. Many of them will allow you to enrol via their website or on the phone.

Ensure that you follow their admission procedure for successful enrolment. 


Choosing the right private alcohol rehab centre is not an easy feat. With so many private alcohol treatment centres, it can be challenging to settle for the one that will meet your requirements.

But with the information provided here, you can find a programme that's the best fit for you. If you need assistance, you can reach a dedicated treatment provider. 

It's not always obvious that a private alcohol rehab facility is ethical or unethical. Therefore, you should be cautious when researching. Be alert when you find a rehab clinic that has multiple negative reviews. 

About the author

Peter Szczepanski

Peter has been on the GPhC register for 29 years. He holds a Clinical Diploma in Advanced Clinical Practice and he is a Clinical Lead in Alcohol and Substance Misuse for Abbeycare Gloucester and works as the Clinical Lead in Alcohol and Substance Use in Worcestershire. Find Peter on Respiratory Academy, Aston University graduates, University of Birmingham, Q, Pharmaceutical Journal, the Dudley Pharmaceutical Committee, Dudley Council, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Peter has been on the GPhC register for 29 years. He holds a Clinical Diploma in Advanced Clinical Practice and he is a Clinical Lead in Alcohol and Substance Misuse for Abbeycare Gloucester and works as the Clinical Lead in Alcohol and Substance Use in Worcestershire. Find Peter on Respiratory Academy, Aston University graduates, University of Birmingham, Q, Pharmaceutical Journal, the Dudley Pharmaceutical Committee, Dudley Council, Twitter, and LinkedIn.