Do you or a loved one need addiction treatment for alcohol or drugs? It's easy to sign up too quickly for treatment, without a proper understanding what to look for.
We've compiled this need-to-know guide, including questions to ask each clinic *before* you pay - including a printable cheatsheet.
Step 1 - Needs .v. Wants
Having gone through months (years?) of denial, when we're ready for treatment, it's easy to rush ahead into the first detox provider you call. But use your needs, and past experience, first and foremost, as your guide to what treatment will work best.
Detox-Only, Versus Full Rehabilitation Programme
Whilst most follow the conventional programme of detox, then rehab, then aftercare, it's possible to do only one of these. But is it right for you?
- Do you need detox, or rehab? It's important to be clear on this.
You could go for a detox-only programme, but run greater risk of future relapse if other supports are not in place.
Location, Location, Location?
The convenience of a nearby clinic can seem appealing when feeling in need of detox.
Unless you're extremely unwell, consider anything up to 100 mile radius and focus instead on quality of care.
Detox beds can be found in hospitals, and virtually any clinic. But does their long term support match your needs in the longer term? Asking a few basics like these upfront can save a lot of headache later.
More Than One Previous Detox?
The quality of support you receive from the clinic team, can make or break recovery results.
If you've had detoxes in the past, or complications like liver or other issues, you'll want to be extra careful here.
Most clinics have standardised approaches for routine detoxes for alcohol etc, but anything more complex will need specialist input from suitably qualified professionals.
Does the medical team at a given clinic specialise in addiction? Or do they practice in more general matters, with addiction as a second interest?
- How long should detox take, for me?
- What addiction experience do your prescribing professionals have?
- Are there suitable staff in the clinic who are equipped to handle detox complications?
Step 2 - What Does A Stay In Rehab Actually Involve?
How does admitting to rehab work?
For in-patient treatment stays, you'll have your own room in the clinic, where you stay, live and sleep, for anywhere from 7-84 days or more (28 days is the average stay).
Before admission, you should expect to complete an initial assessment over the phone with admissions staff, whose job it is to co-ordinate the information you provide with specialists inside the clinic, and ensure their facility can meet your needs.
The Plan For Treatment
If your clinic provides strong personal attention in the programme, they should help you map out what you want from treatment, exactly.
Most providers, at the start of your stay, will help you visualise personal goals and progress targets, in a specifically designed care plan.
Be sure to take an active part in this, to avoid having standardised goals laid out, that don't match your preferences or personal situation. This part is important and can determine your progress later, so don't skip it.
- Is the care planning the same for every client, or is it personalised to me?
- How do I make sure I stay on track during treatment?
- Does care planning account for my detox needs, therapy needs, or both?
- How is my treatment regimen communicated between staff members?
What's Rehab Treatment Like, Day To Day?
What is it like being in a rehab clinic?
The structure of each day will vary of course, from one provider to the next.
In treatment, you should receive some form of agenda for each day of the week. This will give a clear indication of what activities happen when, where, and what's expected of you.
Detox from alcohol or substance misuse in a clinic can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks, depending on multiple factors. The pace of your treatment can vary. For example, for those with lighter intake levels, progression beyond the detox phase of clinic work can happen in just a few days. Other times, it takes longer for the body to process the left-over substances. Clinic staff understand this.
Always enquire about having a look around the clinic, by visiting first, before committing. Most clinics don't have an open-door policy, but will happily let you see inside, by arrangement.
- Do you have a virtual online tour I can take?
- Do I take part in daily activities even during detox?
- Do you offer the opportunity to look around the clinic before admitting?
- When would I be expected to move from detox into therapy in the clinic?
A Word About Covid-19
Since rehab treatment is usually a communal environment, you should expect to have to accommodate others on the journey.
Only with the support of others on the journey, can we hope to make a full recovery.
Making long term recovery gains today, means being careful to check on some basics re covid-19 preparedness and preventative measures.
Step 3 - Managing The Budget For Treatment
Decide firstly, are you going down the public or private route?
The differences between public and private options are vast.
As you can imagine, the cheapest provider is not always the best.
Double check standards of care and therapy provided for lower cost providers - you may be surprised. Opt instead for a middle-tier clinic, with a better balance of cost to care levels provided.
Get a rough indication of costs at this stage by calling a few clinics direct and make it clear your call is just an initial enquiry, to avoid over-committing to one provider too early.
Options Beyond Rehab
Mutual Aid Support
Most cities and towns across the world play host to mutual aid style meetings locally, like the 12 step driven groups of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.
However, specialist medical help will be required to kick start the journey with detox, which cannot be obtained via such community groups.
Mutual aid meetings have earned their place in everyone's recovery. But initially, it's important to get professional help to detox safely, and comfortably.
Community Healthcare Options
Obtaining short-term detox from NHS services is unlikely, due to demand on resources.
This is not a question of lack of intention to help, but more of resources and strain the healthcare system experiences, under heavy demand.
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.
Step 4 - Read The Only Impartial Reports
Opinions on different clinics' standards of care are ten a penny on the internet, but how do you know who to trust?
The industry regulators - the Care Quality Commission in England & Wales, and the Care Inspectorate in Scotland, publish the only independent reporting on standards available, for private rehab clinics.
Inspectors from these organisations visit private clinics nationwide, and check they comply with minimum standards of care, producing reports which they publish on the world wide web.
Clinics are reviewed on quality and expertise of their service, staff, and care levels provided.
Important - Regulator Inspections
In some visits, the provider is made aware in advance, that the inspection is occuring - these are what's known as "Announced" inspections. Other times, inspection teams show up without warning - these are "Unannounced" inspections - therefore, to get the most reliable information, look for reports which state the inspection was Unannounced.
Step 5 - Complete The Initial Assessment
Now is the time to come to a decision about where you're completing treatment.
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.
You can normally complete the necessary steps over the phone in 20 minutes or less, and then make an initial deposit towards treatment, that's used to hold the room in your name, until you arrive at the clinic.
Now is also the time to finalise any other arrangements re payment, like paying via insurance policy.
Step 6 - Financing Treatment
As mentioned above, paying a deposit means the clinic can prepare for your arrival, and allocate your room booking.
Because the total booking value is high, even a small percentage deposit could work out anywhere from £2,000 - £4,000 for the higher end providers.
It's less common nowadays to see treatment clinics themselves offering payment plan options.
Be sure to get a written confirmation of receipt for your deposit, and confirm with the provider any admin fees due, in the event of admission delays, or even cancellation, due to unforeseen circumstances.
The Remaining Funding
Treatment providers will expect payment for the remainder of the balance of treatment, upon arrival the clinic.
Pay this on time to avoid surcharges that could quickly mount up later.
Step 7 - Get Started
By now, you should have an agreed time and date of arrival at a clinic.
Pack enough essentials for your treatment duration, like:
It's worth checking usage policies re internet and wifi, and devices, as you may be disappointed if the clinic you've chosen asks you to hand them in, before your stay begins, without prior warning.
Treatment centres must co-ordinate their clinical and medical teams availability for your arrival - so being on time matters. Try to arrange your transport to the clinic, ahead of time, to make sure things run smoothly.
And of course, enjoy your recovery!
Are You Asking The Right Questions?
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 clinics.
You can download the cheatsheet, here.
Thanks for reading our free guide.
Help for addiction is available at Abbeycare's UK clinics.
We've helped thousands overcome their addiction to alcohol or drugs.
In these last 15 years, our experience has gone from strength to strength.
Even if you're not local, we can still help with transport into treatment (full transparency - some costs do apply).
Our admissions team will help you navigate the treatment options.
The Abbeycare medical team can help you detox comfortably.
Our therapeutic team can help you identify the issues behind addiction, and stop the pattern in your life.
Our clinical team are ready to help you start the journey.
The only thing left is - are you ready?
To ask a question, or to arrange admission, ring our team now on 01603 513 091.