Addiction Rehab Centre – factors to consider

How do you choose an addictions rehab clinic that is right for you?

help with addiction recovery

I was answering the telephone at The Haynes Clinic the other day and the person making the call had called to request that he come and visit and see what the clinic was like. He hoped to visit various other addiction rehab centres that he had found on the internet.  I asked him if he knew what he might be looking for in choosing a detox clinic or addiction treatment centre and his answer was a very clear “No.”  That is really the main problem for people, that there is no clear indicator in choosing one rehab clinic from another. 

The only similarity with any addictions clinic or addictions rehab, in the UK, is that 95% of them base their modality on the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. So, if you, like a few other people that have a preconceived idea about the 12 Steps, do not want to go down that pathway to Recovery then there are only a handful of residential rehab clinics available that operate away from the AA philosophy.

The best indicator of successful treatment is the attitude of the individual needing help

Of course, everyone wants to go to an addictions rehab clinic that is successful in terms of getting people well. However, the most important factor in determining whether someone will finally get their addiction sorted is their desire to do so. The key is truly admitting that there is a problem and accepting that finally we need help as we have tried every way we can to control our addiction and have failed. There will also be the element, for some, that despite the fact they know they need to stop drinking alcohol, using drugs or gambling, because their actions are ruining their lives, that they will still find it hard to accept that the essence of the treatment programme is abstinence based and that it is not about cutting back on the alcohol or having the occasional line of cocaine or the odd bet.

Breaking the addictive cycle

Apart from having a medically assisted detox from alcohol and certain drugs such as heroin, the importance of going into residential addictions rehab is that it is virtually impossible to get well within the home environment.  There needs to be a break in the addictive cycle which can be maintained within a safe setting with others who are also trying to also get their lives back. Also important is the support of trained and professional staff who are also likely to have been in treatment for their addictions and who have now been many years in Recovery. They will also understand what anyone going through treatment is experiencing as they will have had a similar experience themselves. 

Keeping in touch with everyday life

Going into a residential addictions treatment programme is the first step on “a bridge to normal living,” and the “normal living” is getting a life back free from a mood altering chemical. So, for example at The Haynes Clinic there will be some days when going to the gym, or swimming or to a yoga session are on the timetable.  However, the bulk of each day will be taken up with a very structured therapy programme and work on understanding the wording of the 12 Steps as this applies to a modern age.  Whilst the timetable at any clinic is a mix of social activities and therapy, the percentage should lay with addiction therapy. 

It is important to understand the changes that need to be made to our thinking and behaviour in order that we do not relapse back to our old ways.  One of the questions that should be asked with any enquiry is “how much of each day is taken up with therapy facilitated by a therapist” and not “is there a gym on site?” It is incredible the amount of people, including family members, who really believe that going to the gym or cycling every day will keep someone clean or sober.  It is finding a balance that is important and that balance will be different for everyone. Of course, exercise can be a facet of a structured Recovery plan for when people leave treatment but in itself is not the answer. 

Getting a price for addiction treatment

The cost of addiction treatment varies and in this economic climate could be a major factor in enabling someone to be admitted into a detox clinic.  The recommended residential period is 28 days but it is not uncommon for someone to be admitted for 14 days and this may be in part due to financial constraints or even getting time off work.  To just go into treatment for a detox will usually lead to a relapse not long after leaving the detox clinic or addiction rehab centre as there has not been long enough in treatment to get an understanding of the personal changes that need to be made or simply not a long enough time away from the home environment to break the addictive cycle.  All detox clinics or addiction rehabs will have a website but you will have to telephone them to get an admission price as it is not always available on their website. 

Independent reviews

There is a separate independent review of every rehab treatment centre in the UK by the Care Quality Commission who have the power to close any unit that is not operating in an appropriate or professional manner. Their review and rating of every rehab clinic that they have inspected is available from their website and this could also help in establishing if the clinic you are wanting to visit is needing improvement in certain areas.   However, the CQC tends to report on health and safety matters rather than the quality of the addiction treatment delivered by the therapists and counsellors.

Reviews left on a clinic’s website by previous attendees can be more useful in this respect but these too can be misleading. They tend either to be left by those who got a lot out of their treatment, who are grateful and remain well (the ones who really wanted to get clean and sober, mentioned above). Or they can be of malicious intent if left by someone who did not want to make the changes suggested and who has relapsed as a result.   It is very easy for relapsers to want to blame the clinic for their lack of success whereas in reality the clinic cannot be responsible for everyone’s recovery once someone has left (though most addiction clinics will offer ongoing support and aftercare).

Similarities in different addictions

Therapy can be quite challenging, for any individual, as their thinking will be challenged as well as their past actions.  Thinking and behaviour need to change and there needs to be an acceptance that help from others is also needed to get and stay well. 

It would be rare to find a group of people in addiction treatment sharing precisely the same addiction.  However, what they will all share, in common with any addiction, is that it will gradually and negatively affect their lives through work, relationships, family, health, and social activities.  The 12 Step model has been adapted for those with addictions other than alcohol and support groups other than AA are also available such as Cocaine Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous.  Attending support groups whilst in residential care is also part of the treatment process as attending local groups once back home after treatment will be part of everyone’s Recovery Plan. 

Get a personal recommendation if you can

Recently, due in part to rising costs, a few detox clinics or residential addiction rehabs have closed. This obviously means there are fewer to choose from.  Quite often a good source for recommendation of a rehab clinic is simply through word of mouth from someone who has been in addiction treatment and has been able to get their life back – and who should be able to tell you exactly what the addiction rehab experience was like for them at a particular rehab clinic.