What is rehab?

What kinds of alcohol and other drug treatments are available in Australia? 

Navigating where to get help especially if you are concerned that your drug use may be becoming problematic can be difficult and confusing. Everyone has opinion about drug use and they want to share it with you.

Maybe you just want to know where you can go and what are your options are so you can weigh up what is available before you make a decision. Knowing what your options are can help you make an informed decision about what would be best for you.

You can ring Alcohol Drug Information Service, ADIS, on 02 9361 8000 or freecall 1800 422 599 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for education, information, support, crisis counseling and referral to services in NSW. Or check out their website.

You may have heard people talking about going into rehab or residential programs, but are unsure if this is the best option for you. Rehabilitation or residential programs are usually long term approach to alcohol and other drug treatment. The aim is to help you achieve an alcohol and other drug free lifestyle.

These are usually residential programs that can last from a few weeks to a number of years. Often at residential programs don’t provide medicated withdrawal, so it is usually important that you have already successfully completed a withdrawal treatment before you commit to this type of treatment. Below is a summary of what is involved in rehab programs so you can make an informed decision.

What is rehab?

Rehab is short for Residential Rehabilitation Programs. These programs are usually for people who have already detoxed off drugs and are interested in living a drug free life. Some residential rehabilitation programs have facilities which cater for people wishing to detox upon entry into their programs. Unfortunately most need you to have gone through a detox before you arrive (see “What is detox?“)

 Why do people go to rehab?

Most people who go to rehab go because they want to be abstinent. Most rehabs claim they can help you achieve your goals if you follow their programs.  Most rehab programs offered by Australian Residential Rehabs are based on what is known as 12 Steps/ or the Minnesota Model. These refer to the 12 step principles of Alcoholic Anonymous. This model was developed by Bill Wilson, the co-founder of Alcoholic Anonymous in 1934. The basic principal of the 12-step theory is that addiction is an incurable disease and it can only be treated ‘One day at a time’.

The Minnesota Model was created by the Hazelton Betty Ford Foundation in 1949, which included residential treatment and care for people wishing to beat their addiction combined with people attending 12 step groups. The Minnesota model is the most commonly used model for addiction treatment in the world including Australia.

In Australia, there are approximately 400 different 12 steps self-help groups that you can join for various different addictions and disorders.

Why are 12 Step Programs used in rehabs?

Counselling is very popular with treatment services and a large part of the rehab experience.  This is because counselling can be provided one on one if required or delivered in a group setting.It’s not influenced by the type of drug used by participants as it focuses on the problematic behaviour not the drug of choice.

The 12-step program is used by many rehab programs as it is a structured step-by-step program aimed at helping people develop new coping behaviours that stop them from relapsing when faced with stressful situations. 12-Step programs have helped many people achieve their goal of abstinence.

What is a 12 step Program?

The 12 step program is based on helping you to develop cognitive, emotional, behavioural, social and spiritual changes that will help you maintain abstinence. These changes occur throughout the process of genuinely completing each of the 12 steps toward recovery.

Therapy in these programs emphasises two main goals to keep in mind as you work through the 12 steps:

  • Accepting the need for abstinence.
  • Surrender, or recognising the need to actively engage with the program to achieve lasting sobriety

Is there a difference between rehab and residential program? 

Another name for residential rehabilitation programs are therapeutic or residential communities. This is because you are required to live on the premises and most programs can run from six months to two years.

Residential rehabilitation programs are usually located in the countryside or in semi-rural areas and provide a heavily regulated environment where you can re-build your life and learn new life skills and self-confidence before returning to the real world. Some programs also include halfway house stages, which provide you support and reintegration back into the community after treatment.

Rehabilitation programs are usually very strict and do not tolerate any form of drug use. Some people drop out because they find the rules too hard cope to with. You might find that some of the people participating in rehab are there because they have been sent by the court system as an alternative to prison.

Are there waiting lists?

As most rehabilitation programs are medium to long-term, they often have long waiting lists. Many of the private rehabs or religious based rehabs can accept clients almost immediately and have no waiting lists.

How much do rehabs cost?

The cost of rehab treatment can vary greatly. Government-funded programs can be free or range from five dollars a day, to three-hundred dollars a week or a percentage of your government support benefits. Private or religious rehabs are not free and costs can range from $6000 a month, to $50,000 a month. If you have private medical cover check out if they cover the cost of rehab, as some private medical insurances will cover the cost.

Another option if you can’t wait for a government-funded rehab is to see if you can access your superannuation. Under certain circumstances you can get access to your superannuation to pay for treatment because substance dependence disorder is considered a life threatening illness.