How to choose a rehab

You may be looking at rehab for the first time, so the issues and choices you face will be new to you. We will try to help you through them. We call ourselves Choices because we offer you a wide range of treatment options. We explain here how you could set about choosing, giving you our experience of the factors to consider.

We suggest that you read carefully through all the information below, and choose those options that best suit you. Then go to the websites of the two or three you think might be right for you. Then phone each rehab for further details on their services, and for their prices and availability.

Finally, we think you should not spend too much time looking for the rehab you consider to be perfectly suited to your individual needs.  Although a reasonable fit is very helpful, your success crucially depends on the level of commitment you bring to your recovery, turning your desire to get well into positive action, whichever rehab you choose.

12 steps or not?

You may have heard of “The 12 Step Programme” of addiction treatment, which is used by about half the rehabs in the world, and in the UK. So one of your choices is – do I want to take the route of 12 Step recovery or not?

The 12 Step Programme of Alcoholics Anonymous is credited with getting more than two million alcoholics around the world into lasting sobriety, so it clearly works. There are also 12 Step programmes for drugs and other addictions, and these have proved equally effective. All 12 Step rehabs use other proven methods in addition to the 12 Steps, the same techniques as are used in non-12 Step rehabs, but the basis of treatment is the 12 Step programme Click here to view the list.

However, roughly half the rehabs in the world use other treatment methods, and they are very successful too. The list of these methods can be found here and the table of non-12 Step rehabs shown here.  The methods used are all proven to provide a basis for successful, lasting recovery, and conform to well-used therapeutic approaches.


When you go into rehab you will be very focused on the fairly intensive programme you are set, and there will be little time for sightseeing. To this extent it doesn’t matter whether you are in a seaside town, in a city, or in a country retreat. But it is worth considering - do I want to go to the nearest rehab, or do I want to get miles away.?

The benefits of getting away are that you will take a break from family and your old friends. (Visits are usually restricted for the first weeks, but if you stay longer then they are permitted.) Often an addict has friends who are no help, perhaps the opposite, as they try to learn new ways of living. So going miles away has its benefits. Some even see rehab as a chance for a completely fresh start, and choose a location where they want to stay on after treatment and Aftercare are over.

On the other hand, if you do get visits from your family – and many rehabs have “family day” as part of the treatment programme – there may be a limit to how far they want to travel. And when you complete treatment you will want to benefit from the Aftercare being offered, and that may be harder with further to travel. So there are pros and cons to both options, staying local or travelling a long way, and the choice is yours.

The locations of the Choices rehabs are:

Length of Programme

It is impossible to say how long you as an individual need to stay in rehab. People, and their circumstances, are different. Some people stay in rehab a few weeks and then remain clean and sober. Others take a few months. The problem is that you have no way of telling what would be best for you – and almost everyone underestimates how powerful their addiction is. So it’s best to keep an open mind, and take advice from the rehabs you talk to and maybe attend for an assessment. They are the experts.

We suggest you bear in mind two important points.  First, make your decision on length of stay based on how long you need to be there, and not how much time you can take out of your "busy life".  Your recovery must come first.

Second, if you can, try to keep some money available for an extra few weeks in treatment in case that’s needed – many people realise at the end of their initial commitment to rehab that they are not as ready to leave as they thought they would be!

Do you need detox?

The question of whether or not you need detox – a short period of medical support while you stop taking alcohol or drugs – must be answered by a qualified professional, such as your doctor or a member of a rehab. It is very dangerous to stop taking drink or drugs suddenly without such advice. A number of Choices rehabs offer inpatient detox, or a GP-supported detox. If professional opinion says you need detox, you have no option but to follow that advice.

Day programme or residential?

It is worth considering whether day treatment – non-residential, and typically 5 full days per week – is a sensible option for you. Maybe you’ve been through treatment before and have relapsed briefly. Or maybe you are completing a period of residential treatment and you feel a less intensive, and less expensive, continuation of treatment makes sense to support your recovery. 

For most people residential treatment is the best option.  But there are sometimes special circumstances that make day treatment a good choice.

Gender and age options

Just as we offer choices on other features of rehab, we offer the full range of options on the gender make-up of the rehab – mixed, male only, female only, mother and baby - plus meeting the special needs of young people.

This option is one to consider carefully, to choose what is right for you.  There are a number of factors to consider and confront honestly. Will I be reluctant to talk in depth about the issues that trouble me if I am in a mixed group?  Will I be prone to forming romantic relationships in a mixed rehab?  (You should know that such relationships are not permitted in rehab, as among other things they are usually seriously damaging to all concerned.)  Will I be comfortable sharing a house with the opposite sex? (For example anyone who has experienced domestic violence may find that difficult.)  Given that the “real world” is a mixed world, will I be ready to stay clean and sober when I leave rehab if I’ve opted for single-sex treatment?  Is there a rehab that allows me to take my baby? (Yes – see right)

If I’m a young person, is there a rehab that caters for my special needs?  Many rehabs will take young people as part of their normal intake.  But for those who feel they need a rehab aimed at young people only, go to that tab on the right.

There are good reasons why some rehabs are single sex and some are mixed, and why there are other specific client groups, because each fulfils a need. You’ll have to decide what your needs are, and what will suit you, by thinking about it and by talking to rehab staff.


All Choices rehabs offer Aftercare – a period after treatment when you can stay in contact with the rehab as you set off on your clean and sober life.

We think Aftercare is essential, and suggest that, if you go outside the Choices group, do not consider any rehab that does not offer Aftercare

Move-on accommodation

Although many people return home after leaving rehab, others benefit from staying close in nearby accommodation for a period of time as they continue their journey into recovery. As with so many factors, it is a matter of personal preference and personal need – what’s right for you and your circumstances. Some Choices rehabs have follow-on accommodation for this purpose.