Finding The Right Rehab – A Buyer’s Guide

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Free Rehab Q&A Cheatsheet!


All the top questions to ask, in an easy side-by-side comparison

Do you or a loved one need addiction treatment for alcohol or drugs? Thousands blindly walk into addiction treatment in expensive rehab centres and find that the reality doesn't meet expectations.

If you're considering rehab treatment, first check our ultimate guide for complete instructions on how to find the right rehab centre for you:

  • How to easily navigate the rehab treatment maze
  • Top questions to ask before committing
  • A printable Q&A cheatsheet to easily compare different providers

Step 1 - Get Clear On Your Needs


When you or a loved one are finally ready for help, it can be tempting to pick up the phone and sign up for the first rehab clinic you can find.

Worse, many will blindly sign away thousands for the very nearest facility, without further research. But spending just a little time getting clear on what you need can save a costly mistake later.

Detox .v. Rehab

A rehab stay normally follows the sequence Detox > Rehab > Aftercare, but do you need all three?

- Do you need detox, or rehab? (Be honest). Multiple previous detoxes followed by relapses, usually indicates work is required on the underlying (psychological) issues, which can only be done in a rehab stay, usually lasting 28 days.

Whereas, an individual detoxing for the first time, who already has great emotional support at home and in the community, may genuinely only require detox in a clinic.

Be honest with yourself here, as going the detox-only route initially, when underlying work is truly needed, often ends in paying for treatment twice, not once.

Detox Or Rehab?
  • Does not include rehab/therapy
  • Usually 7-14 days
  • Not for complex cases/previous detoxes
  • Budget-friendly
  • Includes detox
  • Usually 28 days+
  • Includes therapeutic elements
  • More expensive
Rule Of Thumb:

As a rule of thumb, if you suspect there are unaddressed underlying emotional or psychological issues behind the addiction, opting for a rehab package, with the option of aftercare, will likely provide the strongest foundation for long term recovery success.

For a complex history of addiction, more than one previous detox, or physical health complications, see our section below on complex needs.


Understandably, when feeling low and needing detox, most will opt for a rehab clinic close to where they live.

Yet this doesn't always mean you'll get the best treatment.

Unless you're extremely unwell, consider anything up to 100 mile radius and focus instead on quality of care.

Detox can be found in many places, but a strong rehabilitation programme with excellent therapy can mean much greater progress in the long term. It pays to shop around here.

Speed of Admission & Availability

If you've been in a state of emotional or physical decline for some time, and need help for alcohol or substance misuse, it's normal to have some urgency around how quickly you can admit to treatment.

Whilst one particular rehab provider may seem like the right choice based on other factors, many very practical issues can impede a speedy admission to treatment, e.g.

  • Is there a bed available within the clinic currently?
  • Can the clinic cater to any needs for physical care and support?
  • Can the clinic accommodate a past history of (e.g.) seizure, or liver complication?

It’s worth checking with the clinic in advance on these factors and how they may influence the speed of admitting to treatment.

If You Have Complex Needs

Like many things in life, the quality of your experience in a rehab clinic can come down to the breadth and depth of experience of the staff you're working with.

This can be especially important where you have complex drug or alcohol detox needs.

While an admissions team or sales team can give an indication of likely detox methods, this is of course finalised and decided upon by the supervising medical professionals present.

Complicating factors like liver cirrhosis, previous hospital admissions for addiction, multiple previous detoxes, or a very high intake levels of alcohol or drugs, mean that finding sympathetic professionals, who have your safety in mind, is important.

Ask around to find a clinic with professionals who have experience in detoxing your substance type specifically, e.g. a high dose methadone detox is complex, and should be undertaken only by professionals with substantial experience. The same applies to liver complications, or chronic recurring issues of alcohol or drug addiction.

In more complex cases, always ask if the provider you're speaking with is a rehab clinic or a hospital.

There's a subtle difference here. A rehab clinic is a treatment centre with appropriate medical professionals for the vast majority of needs an individual can have, in detox, and rehab.

But for the most complex cases, a hospital environment has more resources on hand for any unforeseen complications.

For the majority, a rehab clinic will be more than enough. The admissions team for the rehab clinic will ask you the right questions, before admission, to determine if your needs will be met correctly in their environment.

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- Are you a rehab clinic, or a hospital?
- What ex
perience do you have in administering detox for individuals with my specific intake and frequency?
- My case is complex - what happens in the event of complications?

Step 2 – Understand How Rehab Works


How Does Admitting To Rehab Work?

Rehabilitation clinics operate a residential service - you stay residentially, in the clinic, 24hrs a day, usually with your own room and personal space.

Most clinics have access to communal grounds, laundry facilities, therapeutic work, gym or leisure facilities, and a team of addiction support professionals to look after you.

Since every individual is different, and needs can vary widely, (even two people consuming the same amount of alcohol or drugs can need very different timescale and treatment) - a personal assessment is usually needed, before admission to a clinic can go ahead.

This initial assessment normally takes place over the phone, and helps the centre determine if they can look after you or your loved one properly, with the right care.

Bigger Is Not Always Better

In a moment where our needs are urgent, we all naturally think of big brand names we're familiar with, for reassurance in our decision. But is it really the right approach?

A high number of people passing through a clinic is not necessarily a measure of success.

Smaller, independent clinics may not have brand awareness, but typically spend less on advertising, meaning more can be spend on client care.

And, while treating many hundreds at a time can sound impressive, smaller clinics, in more rural locations, tend to have a higher ratio of staff members to clients, meaning greater personal attention for the small number of clients in the clinic at any one time.

Sitting in a crowded group therapy session watching others make progress can be motivational, but rehab can be expensive. You're paying for the greatest possible personal attention, to help you make the most possible progress on your journey - and in some cases, a smaller clinic can be a wiser choice.

Here's what to ask your potential provider:

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- How many clients are in the clinic at any one time?
- How many clients are in the clinic currently?
- How big are group therapy sessions?
- Do I get a member of staff assigned to me individually?

What Is A Care Plan?

After admission to a clinic, staff will usually look to plan out your care in the clinic, and how that will work, for you personally.

This means a 'care plan' is drawn up, and agreed by you and your assigned care manager.

Usually it will contain an overarching approach for your stay, what therapy and support you'll receive, and your desired treatment goals and outcomes.

This is your opportunity to make sure your key sticking points, triggers, and recurring issues, are factored in, and will get appropriate attention during your stay. Make sure to take an active part in this stage.

Make sure to check: Do I get an individualised care plan? How do I stay on track during treatment? Is care planning done for me, or is it collaborative?

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A Day In The Life

What is it like being in a rehab clinic?

Without actually being in the clinic, the closest you can get is to ask questions about the daily experience of life in the clinic.

Since residential rehab is a group environment, most clinics provide each client with a daily agenda, every night for the following day. This lays out the timetable of events, and what's expected.

Make sure to be on time for the daily activities and therapy.

A typical day could look like:

  • 7.00am – 8.00am Rise & Shine
  • 7.30am – 8.30am Medication, Breakfast
  • 8.30am – 9.00am Morning Meeting, Meditation
  • 9.30am - 1.00pm Therapy
  • 1.00pm – 2.00pm Lunch
  • 2.00pm - 3.00pm Client Forum/Therapy
  • 3.00pm - 5.30pm Therapy
  • 6.00pm - 7.00pm Evening Meal
  • 7.30pm - 10.00pm - Recovery Meeting

However, the first 7 days of a stay in rehab, are usually structured differently. Since this is the initial phase of detox, most clinics will expect much more rest and down time during the first 7 days, to allow your body time to process detox medication, and get a clear head again.

The time it takes to feel better at this stage is personal to each individual. Some will be ready to start therapeutic work after just a few days. Others may take 7 days or longer. Clinic staff understand this.

Also, make sure to ask to arrange a visit to look around the clinic, first.

Ask your provider:

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- Do you have a virtual online tour I can take?
- Do you have sample daily agendas for treatment I can look at?
- Can I arrange a visit to the clinic, to look around, without obligation, before committing?
- When do you expect me to start taking part in the therapy process?

Will A Stay In Rehab "Cure" Me? (or...does rehab guarantee I'll get better?)

We have to be realistic here. As a primary care provider, a surgeon can complete heart bypass surgery, but cannot guarantee heart health forever, since he cannot control multiple long term factors that are under the patient's eating right, reducing fat intake, exercise, etc.

In the same way, a residential rehab centre is there to provide primary care help for detox needs, and jump start your psychological journey on recovery - but they are not responsible for your long term actions.

Even the best therapy in the world, with optimal long term support, cannot help someone who does not take responsibility for their own behaviour or recovery.

A Word About Covid-19

Since rehab treatment is usually a communal environment, you should expect to have to accommodate others on the journey. 

In fact, a big part of recovering in the longer term, is re-learning to interact with others, and break the old patterns of isolation.

But doing so safely, in the age of Covid-19, means ensuring the clinic you choose has provisions in place to guard against risk of infection.

Questions to ask:

  • Does the clinic have provisions in place relating to Covid-19 prevention and detection (for your safety).
  • How do Covid-19 issues affect speed of admission into treatment, or how long you must stay in the clinic?

Step 3 - Set A Budget


Naturally, funding private rehab treatment is a concern for many.

But there are few half way house providers that exist generally, between public providers, and private treatment, so get clear from the start on which you need.


- Public providers like the NHS in the UK, will generally offer addiction keywork support sessions weekly, on an out-patient basis, with possible referral to other outpatient support services. Waiting lists are usually long. This approach is not likely to be useful for those requiring urgent detox.

- Private providers - the main advantage to private rehab clinics is fast and easy access to supervised detox, a custom treatment plan, and end-to-end joined up addiction care, all under one roof. Whilst they do come at a cost, private clinics have experience in providing specialist insight and intervention. This can have a significant impact on your longer term sobriety. Private clinics will expect you to stay in a clinic for 7-28 days+, and costs can be anywhere from £3,000 - £15,000+, depending on specifics.

For private treatment, the old adage, "you get what you pay for" applies to rehab as much as any other purchase.

Automatically choosing the lowest price provider can lead to poor care levels inside the clinic, detrimental to your recovery progress.

Instead, to keep costs reasonable but standards high, consider providers further afield, or smaller clinics with a lower headcount and rural location.

In practice, many families and groups of friends often end up pooling funds together to help a loved one access treatment at the time it's needed. 

Use this step to get a clear idea of what rough budget you can commit to treatment, ringing round a few providers for initial pricing if needed.

The government directory rehab-online should help provide contact numbers in your area. 

Try to ring direct to clinics, and avoid treatment brokers, or "free advice" services, where possible.

Other Ways To Get Help

Admitting To Rehab Via Insurance Policy

While insurance policies can be an attractive proposition, in reality only the very highest levels of cover offer options for addiction treatment.

Insurance companies are, of course, aware of the nature of addiction, and that relapses do indeed happen.

Thus in many cases policies work on an "annual credit" style system, where treatment or detox for addiction issues are limited to X times per year, or even per lifetime/policy.

If admitting for rehab via insurance policy, try to do everything possible to make as much progress as possible on the underlying (psychological) issues of addiction, as this approach will reduce likelihood of relapse and thus having to make more than one claim on a policy.

Check with your potential provider:

  • Do they provide insurance coverage for those with suitable policies?
  • What level of cover is required?
  • How is an admission to rehab arranged, via the policy?

Local Mutual Aid Meetings

Most locations worldwide hold local Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings which can assist in the mutual aid and social elements of recovery.

For most at the start of the recovery journey though, detox options are a very real need, and not something that can be obtained without more specialist help.

Local mutual aid meetings *can* be a huge help, and can be a source of potential sponsors and sober mentors for the future. But for short term help for detox, you'll need professional assistance.

NHS/Public Funding Options

Whilst the NHS do have addiction keyworkers in different regions, they’re normally overrun with enquiries and demand on resources, meaning obtaining funding for a rehab stay is difficult.

Usually only the most extreme or chronic cases are normally considered for hospital detox or residential clinics. Waiting lists are usually long, i.e. 18mths+.

Where no funding at all is available for private addiction treatment, ask your GP for advice, and a referral to the local community addiction team if possible. 

In reality, where the need for detox is urgent, we often see families and groups of friends pooling funds together, to help a loved one access treatment faster, from a private provider.

Next, it's time to get some impartial reviews.

Step 4 - Get Impartial Consumer Reports


While many treatment brokers or providers will claim to show many positive reviews, their legitimacy is not always clear.

Arm yourself from the outset, with the *only* truly impartial consumer report available for private clinics - the Care Quality Commission (England & Wales) and/or Care Inspectorate (Scotland) inspection reports.

These two regulatory bodies inspect rehab clinics on a regular basis (usually annually) and produce written reports on their findings. This includes feedback on staffing, care and support levels, management, and environment.

How Clinic Inspections Work

Inspections can be "Announced" (the clinic is aware in advance) or "Unannounced" (inspection teams arrive without warning) - so for the best insight into everyday care levels, check for Unannounced reports.

This info is an invaluable insight into how a clinic operates, before you commit, so search for any clinics you're considering, on the regulatory sites above, or ask the clinic directly to send you a copy of their latest inspection report. The most transparent will provide links to the reports directly on their website.

Step 5 – Arrange a Visit


Since you’ll be spending some time (and money) in whichever clinic you choose, it makes sense to get a feel for the setting, the staff, and the environment, before committing.

Although not widely advertised, most clinics will allow you to visit, before admitting, to help you make the right decision. This should of course, be without charge or obligation.

If a clinic you’re considering does not allow pre-admission visits, or worse, charges for them, it’s worth asking why.

Important: Unless circumstances disallow it, *always* arrange a pre-admission visit to any potential treatment provider.

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Ideally, arrange a visit to 2 or 3 different providers within your budget range, to compare.

What To Look For During A Clinic Visit

  • Do staff seem sympathetic and accommodating, or rushed, and over-busy?
  • Are your questions being answered realistically, or simply as a means to convince you to commit?
  • What is the overall feel of the environment and care level?
  • Do existing clients seem happy there?
  • Ask about how your particular case and needs compare to what that clinic normally deals with. Do they foresee any issues? 
  • What outcomes have others with similar history experienced from that provider?

Step 6 - Watch Out For Hard Sales Tactics


Rehab treatment can be expensive, and sadly, this can mean sales tactics are pushy.

Some providers will attempt to have you sign up for aftercare treatment, that happens after your residential stay, before you've even arrived!

A standard treatment stay in rehab is normally 28 days - and some providers insist upon this. But, this doesn't mean shorter stays aren't possible. Ask about 14 day or even 7 day stays. In many cases, it's possible to extend your stay once you're in the clinic.

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You may be more comfortable committing to a longer stay, after you're settled in the facility.

Other top tips to look out for:

  • Avoid signing up to an aftercare package, before entering treatment - wait until you've settled in the clinic, met staff, and gotten comfortable with the therapy, before committing further.
  • Ask why a particular treatment style or duration, is being recommended for your needs. The most expensive/closest/most luxurious clinic, is not always the right one.
  • Ask about extras - what exactly does the price include? What optional extras are available and what do they cost?
  • Ignore any attempt to reduce or vary pricing in order to obtain a deposit for treatment at short notice. There is no urgency to obtain treatment, beyond your own needs.
  • Likewise, some providers will attempt to have clients sign up on the promise of “free aftercare included” when in fact this has already been factored into the price of treatment. Ignore such claims and treat any attempts like this as a red flag.

Step 7 - Arrange Admission


Now that you've read up, and compared a few clinics in person, it's time to arrange admission.

When you call the admissions team for the clinic you’ve chosen, expect to go through an initial telephone assessment, and pay a deposit towards treatment, as explained above.

Be sure to get your questions answered first, before committing. If you have any last minute queries, this is the time to field them.

For the assessment, the clinic or admissions team will usually ask a number of questions, sometimes quite personal – be assured that this is normal, as they must provide this information to their medical teams. This ensures that the clinic you’ve chosen is both suitable, and safe, for your needs.

An assessment shouldn’t normally take more than 20 minutes, after which you can pay any required financial deposit over the phone and expect some form of booking confirmation, and receipt of payment.

If you’re paying via an insurance policy, this is the time that will get sorted out also.

Step 8 - Paying For Rehab


Most clinics will expect payment of a deposit, toward the full balance of treatment, prior to admitting.

This is normal, and helps the clinic themselves cover the cost of preparing for your admission, arranging appropriate medical attention, and allocating your care needs to a member of their team, ready for your arrival.

The deposit could be anywhere from £500 - £3,000, depending on specifics. Most clinics accept payment over the phone by card.

A few offer payment plans to help spread the cost of rehab, although nowadays this is less common.

Clinics are not usually finance providers directly, therefore, if you do need credit facilities, it's likely you'll find better rates by looking externally, to other providers, for e.g. a personal loan.

Where no budget is available for treatment at all, see our section above on other options.

You should expect some kind of booking confirmation from the provider, usually by email, after any deposit or balance payment is made. This should acknowledge receipt of your funds, and confirm the next steps.

Remaining Balance

Clinics will normally expect payment of the remaining balance of treatment, upon arrival and admission to the clinic, so be prepared to make a payment at this time.

It’s worth making the effort to settle this on time, as some providers can levy surcharges for late payment, and this quickly adds up, on larger balances.


While a rehab stay of 28 days will certainly help re-orient your life and priorities towards recovery, the reality is that longer term outcomes are of course down to each individual.

In the same way that a heart surgeon is not responsible for his patient's poor eating or health habits 20 years later, a rehab clinic cannot provide a guarantee someone will never relapse again. This is the brutal truth.

Thus, regardless of the success rate of any one treatment provider, there will inevitably be a small minority who relapse back into addiction later in life.

And therefore, it's easy to see why clinics seldom offer a refund facility.

Turn this around, and use it as a motivator for you to take full advantage of all the treatment options on offer in the clinic, and follow through thoroughly on all aftercare options given to you, to minimise the likelihood of relapse in future.

Additionally, when booking, it could be useful to ask about any potential refund policy in the event of cancellation, or inability to attend for admission, due to unforeseen events.

Step 9 – Consider Aftercare


Which brings us to aftercare. This is the continuing care element, provided by a treatment clinic, to streamline you, from residential care, back in to daily life outside the clinic.

This means setting you up with enough supports, and specialist help if required, to help you continue in sobriety long into the future.

Aftercare, and relapse prevention planning, play a huge role in long term success, and their importance cannot be underestimated.

Aftercare usually includes elements such as working with a sponsor, attending local recovery meetings, connecting with others in recovery locally, and taking up referrals to other specialists, where required.

Paid aftercare options are often available. This often means additional one-to-one sessions of therapy, to continue the work started during your residential stay.

Paid aftercare can be a positive, since it's very easy to continue a therapeutic relationship with a therapist you already know, but with these caveats:

  • Wait until you've settled in the clinic and built a relationship with staff and therapists that you're happy with, before committing to longer term paid options.
  • Watch out for providers pre-selling aftercare before you've even entered the clinic. Wait to see how much support is provided as part of residential treatment, and from other sources, before deciding on longer term options with financial commitment.

Families & Loved Ones

Aftercare can also include additional provision not only for you, but also for the family members or loved ones, connected to the individual undergoing treatment.

Some clinics offer family-only aftercare meetings every few weeks, in the style of al-anon or narc-anon, where family members can gain support from the group organiser, as well as other families in the same position.

Questions to ask a potential provider:

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- What aftercare options are provided?
- Are aftercare options personalised to individual needs?
- When, during a residential stay, does aftercare planning begin?
- Are paid options available?
- Can I decide on that during my stay?
- Do you provide family group sessions or support for the other around me?
- Do these incur additional charges?

Step 10 - Admit To Treatment


By now, you should have an agreed time and date of arrival at a clinic.

Pack enough essentials for your treatment duration, like:

  • Casual clothes
  • Basic toiletries
  • Accessories for any gym/swim/leisure facilities
  • Any prescribed medication you normally take

Ask the admissions team about policies for:

  • Mobile phone and internet (wifi) use
  • Visits in person, from family or friends
  • Any leisure facilities available
  • Accessing cigarettes, if you are a smoker
  • Any special arrangements you should know about, for covid-19.

Make sure to finalise transport arrangements a few days in advance, to ensure you attend the clinic on time, and avoid any surcharges on delays on treatment.

And of course....enjoy your recovery!

Free Cheatsheet - Compare Providers Side-By-Side

Thanks for reading our guide.

We’ve compiled the top questions to ask a provider, in one easy to print PDF to have handy, when you ring treatment providers.

Using it, you can compare providers side by side, on key factors, like Price, Location, and Availability.

Download it free below (PDF direct download - no sign up required):

Free Rehab Q&A Cheatsheet!


All the top questions to ask, in an easy side-by-side comparison

Abbeycare Clinics Serving The UK

Abbeycare have provided this guide free of charge, to help you make the right decision when considering addiction rehab treatment options.

Abbeycare have two UK locations. We've worked with thousands from all over the world, and we can probably help you too.

In our 15 years, we've worked with even the most complex detoxes, needs, and issues.

We can even arrange to assist with transport to the clinic (some extra charges do apply).

Check our independent inspection reports, available on our clinic pages for Abbeycare Scotland, and Abbeycare Gloucester.

Our admissions team are ready to listen to your needs.

Our medical team are ready to help you detox, comfortably.

Our therapists are ready to help you get the insights you need, to stop the pattern of addiction, and reclaim your life.

Our clinic team are ready to help you make the progress you need.

Are you ready?

To ask a question, or to arrange admission, ring our team now on 01603 513 091.