Is Cost Hindering Private Drug and Alcohol Rehab?

  • Added:
    Aug 11, 2014
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Is Cost Hindering Private Drug and Alcohol Rehab? Photo by Colin Armstrong

In 2012 the NHS estimated there were about 60 private rehab clinics in the UK assisting both alcoholics and drug users. The same estimate suggested that more than 30 clinics had closed across the country in the previous three years. That is a 30% decline in services – a decline that may be largely due to the cost factor.

So just who does the cost of private rehab affect? Both those who need help and the clinics themselves. When addicts do not have the money or insurance to cover the cost of drug or alcohol rehab, they are missing out on the valuable services offered by private clinics. When the clinics do not have enough patients to keep their beds filled, they find it financially difficult to remain open. It is a double-edged sword and a never-ending cycle, all rolled into one.

Government Responsibility

The government willingly took on the role of being responsible for the nation's healthcare when it established the NHS in 1948. Is it reasonable to assume part of that responsibility includes providing alcohol and drug rehab to those in need? Yes, it is. That is why the NHS provides free services by way of detox, counselling, and prescription medications. Nevertheless, some would suggest those services do not go far enough.

The biggest problem with NHS services is that they are not goal-oriented. In other words, NHS treatment providers do not set out a specific plan of action for recovery, with measurable results and a definite endpoint. GPs write prescriptions, recommend patients take advantage of support groups, and then leave it at that.

Making matters worse is the government funding that was cut from private rehab programmes over the last 10 years. It used to be the NHS worked with private clinics to offer residential rehab. That is no more. The loss of funding has meant the end for far too many private clinics that were doing good work.

The Next Step

As we continue to do battle with drugs and alcohol across the UK, we need to take a step back and figure out how to take the next step forward. The responsible policymaker should welcome an effort to analyse the results of private drug and alcohol rehab as compared to the results of NHS services. If it turns out private rehab is doing the job better, perhaps funding should be diverted away from unproductive NHS programmes and toward private treatment.

Above all, finding a solution to the problem has to rise above political differences. If cost is hindering private rehab, and it appears that it is, we need to find a way to make it affordable. It needs to be affordable to the recovering addict and financially viable for the private clinic. Otherwise, we can expect more of the same.

Author's Profile

Rehab-Clinic is an independent organisation working with rehab clinics and other treatment providers across the UK. They provide free advice and referrals to anyone in need of assistance with alcohol or drug rehab.

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