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Is Rehab Free in the UK?

Embarking on the addiction recovery journey often begins with rehabilitation, commonly referred to as rehab. This crucial process involves seeking treatment and support from various sources to overcome dependencies on drugs or alcohol.

In the United Kingdom, rehab encompasses a diverse range of programs tailored to individual needs and circumstances. But a question we often hear is – ‘is rehab free in the UK?’

In this article, we’ll delve into the different types of rehab options available, from intensive residential clinics to outpatient programs and vital support groups. We’ll explore the various avenues of funding for rehab and shed light on private treatment clinics and the diverse array of services they provide.

Whether it’s finding the right facility for a loved one or formulating a robust treatment strategy, this guide aims to provide a comprehensive overview of rehab options in the UK.

What is Rehab?

Rehab, short for rehabilitation, is the process of addiction recovery usually done using treatment and help from others.

In the UK, it usually consists of a comprehensive treatment program that helps people overcome their addiction to drugs or alcohol using a combination of medical care, counselling and other related therapies. There are different types of rehabs including residential clinics, outpatient programs, support groups and online rehab.

In-patient or residential rehab is the most intensive rehab and the most effective as clients live and receive their treatment in the same place. It usually offers 24-hour medical care and support from qualified medical professionals as well as individual and group therapy, depending on the provider of the service.

Of course, not all rehab is residential rehab, and options exist for people who maybe can’t attend rehab, or who aren’t necessarily chronic in their addiction but severe enough to need treatment. People continue living at home while they receive treatment. Outpatient rehab normally involves individual and group therapy, as well as medication management and support groups.

Inpatient is generally considered to be safer, especially with more severe addictions where withdrawal symptoms can be life-threatening.

Support groups are a valuable form of rehab and recovery. They provide a safe and supportive environment where people share their experiences, learn from others and get help to sober up and stay sober.

Mutual aid support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and SMART Recovery exist as free rehab for alcoholics in the UK.

Overview of UK Rehab Options

There are a variety of drug and alcohol rehab options available in the UK including statutory publicly funded through the NHS and local councils, privately funded by the individual or through charity and non-profit organisations.

The best option for most people – aside from their specific treatment needs depending on the stage of their addiction – will depend on financial circumstances, choice and availability.

Let’s explore some of the options for rehab.

Government Funding for Rehab

NHS and Addiction Services

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The NHS provides a range of addiction treatment services including detoxification, counselling and therapy. These services are typically offered on an outpatient treatment basis, but there are also some NHS-funded residential rehab programs available depending on location throughout the country. Often it is a postcode lottery and different NHS areas in the UK can vary widely in the addiction rehab services the offer.

It’s important to note here that the NHS does not incumbently have or operate any residential rehabs whatsoever. To be precise, it doesn’t offer free rehab in the UK that includes therapy, however it does operate detox units throughout the country that are in effect hospital wards used for medical withdrawal process. Any post-detox treatment is offered to people on an outpatient basis.

To access NHS-funded treatment, you will need to speak to your GP or local drug and alcohol service. They assess your needs and refer you to the appropriate treatment program.

Local Authority Funding

Local authorities are responsible for the addiction treatment services of their residents and allocate funds to commission these. These are generally offered in a community setting and are outpatient.

The process normally involves a referral to such services – either via a GP, social work or self-referral – and then an assessment of needs to determine the best route for treatment.

Almost all treatment is carried out at a local drug and alcohol service, or in partnership with the NHS and private providers.

When engaging with such services, people are allocated a keyworker who will determine the best course of treatment. The first treatment is usually an outpatient detox followed by some support groups and one-to-one therapy. Residential rehab is not a common treatment in local authorities due to cost.

Charitable Organisations

Charity-funded addiction rehab is a good option for people who are struggling to access local authority funding or who are looking for a particular program.

There are a number of charities in the UK that offer of addiction rehab programs. Some charities offer specialist places for specific types of addicts and addictions including free drug rehab, alcohol rehab and gambling help, whilst others have particular criteria such as women-only or a particular religious leaning.

To access charity-funded addiction rehab, it’s best to contact the charity directly where you’ll complete an assessment. The assessment will help to determine your needs and eligibility for the service.


Our team of rehab and addiction specialists are on hand to talk to you day or night.

Private Treatment Clinics

Private treatment for addiction is exactly as it sounds and offered on a privately funded basis. Although it does cost money, often this is paid by insurance policies, employers and also with the help of loved ones.

It offers a number of advantages over other options, as they tend to be better equipped, better staffed and are usually addiction specialists. Clients tend to receive more intensive treatment, smaller group sizes and generally better facilities.

Types of Treatment Available

There are a wide range of private rehab clinics in the UK, offering a variety of treatment programs. From outpatient “dayhabs” to long-term residential clinics in country houses, to private hospitals. Private addiction rehab offers all kinds of medical, therapeutic and counselling methods.

There are a few fairly standard stages to the rehabilitations process – find out more about that in our article, ‘What are the Stages of Rehab?

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Financial Resources and Costs

The average cost of residential rehab in the UK stands at around £10,000 per month, with plenty less and more expensive options around.

The price also varies widely throughout the country and location of the rehab has an impact on cost. The standard of accommodation, whether it’s a shared or single bedroom, the diversity and intensity of therapy, and overall quality of treatment are reflected in the price.

There are also many day clinics and outpatient facilities, where the cost of treatment if much lower due to the non-residential nature.

Residential Rehab Programmes

There are around 200 residential rehabs in the UK, all offering a variety of treatments and therapies.

Residential rehab is usually a stay of between 7 and 90 days in a treatment facility, depending on finances and severity of the addiction, with a standard rehab stay being around 28 days.

A rehab programs usually consists of a detox from drugs or alcohol, addiction education, coping skills, psychotherapy, 12-step therapy and relapse prevention planning, with individual rehabs tailoring therapies to suit.

Drug Addiction Treatment Services

If you’re looking for the best drug addiction rehab centre for you, it’s wise to find out what options are available as not all rehabs treat all drug addictions or addicts for that matter.

Some rehabs don’t – or can’t due to regulations – treat methadone addiction or some co-occurring disorders, such as eating disorders, combined with drug addiction.

It’s best to speak to addiction specialists, like us at Which Rehab, to find out what clinic is suitable, as the availability of a place in rehab varies on such factors as type of drug, the severity, cost and location which do affect treatment options and entry dates.

Alcohol Services

Almost all residential rehabs in the UK treat alcoholism, mainly due to its prevalence and the straightforward nature of alcohol addiction treatment, compared to some other drugs.

In addition to residential rehab, local authorities and numerous charities exist to solely treat alcohol dependence.

Want advice on where’s best for you? Check out our article on the best alcohol rehabs in the UK for our take on the best drug rehab centres out there.


How Much Does Rehab Cost in the UK?

Free rehab is available in the Uk, but if you need something more, you’re likely to have to pay. But how much?

Read on to find out how much rehab costs and ways to get funding.

How Do You Qualify For Free Rehab?

If you’re looking for free rehab in the UK, you may be eligible if you meet certain criteria. The National Health Service (NHS) provides free treatment for people with alcohol or drug problems, though services vary across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

To qualify for free rehab in the UK, you must first have been assessed by a specialist health professional such as a GP or an addiction counsellor. If they deem you need residential treatment, you will be referred to your local NHS trust who should offer a free rehab placement.

However, waiting times for free rehab can be long and there may not be availability in your area. So if you need immediate help, it’s best to contact a private clinic or charity offering free access to rehab services.


There are a range of free addiction services in the UK: outpatient rehab treatments offered by the NHS and local authorities. Mutual aid groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous offer free support but no medical treatment.

There are also a number of limited places in free residential rehabs, with people generally having to go via their GP, NHS or local addiction service and almost always need to attend outpatient or day services to get treatment in the first instance. Some specialist charity rehabs exist that offer in-patient treatment and some require you to meet certain criteria – but they are worth approaching.

There are a number of private rehabs all over the country, and availability is high, but they do cost money.

The statistics show that rehab works, so finding a solutions, however that looks, is almost always worth it.

Sometimes the correct treatment may be be a combination of providers and services. Please contact us today to find out more about options in your area and whether we can help you formulate a robust treatment strategy.


Breaking addiction is almost impossible without help. Our compassionate and experienced team are here to help you get the help you need.


The cost of rehab in the UK depends on several factors, including the clinic’s location, its on-site facilities and the type of services they offer. I.e., Medically supervised detox.

In London and the rest of the UK, there are three main options for funding alcohol and drug rehab. Self-funding, government funding, or through private health insurance if your policy covers it.

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