Private Detox vs NHS detox

The first step in alcohol addiction treatment involves detoxing the body but it’s also the most difficult phase as it involves the body metabolising any remaining traces of alcohol in the bloodstream. During this process, the body can experience debilitating and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. This can make it difficult or dangerous to undergo detox at home as it’s only suitable for mild cases of addiction in which family support is available.

People suffering from prolonged substance addiction require the right professional support during such a crucial period. For assistance in detoxifying the body, they can choose between detox at a private rehab or one that’s NHS-funded. To make an informed decision, it’s important that people understand what both have to offer.

Is private detox better than the NHS treatment option?

In 2019, studies found that nearly 3.2 million UK citizens took some form of an illicit substance. These studies focused on people between the ages of 16 and 56, and results showed that drug and alcohol addiction treatment was necessary to improve well-being.

Many individuals struggling with addiction will likely have to choose between Private rehab and NHS rehab. By understanding the advantages of each, you can make a more informed decision.

Advantages of Private Rehab/Detox

  • Private rehab treatment offers a customised drug rehab experience that caters to the specific needs of the clients.
  • Patients can choose their preferred type of private drug rehab treatment, giving them greater control over their recovery journey compared to NHS drug addiction therapies.
  • Private drug rehab facilities are often better equipped than most NHS-funded facilities. These private treatment options offer various other amenities such as gyms, spas, or even gardens to help with your mental health.
  • Some private rehab treatment options allow patients to choose their preferred room or accommodation.*
  • Compared to the NHS rehab services available, private alternatives can be expensive but they do offer payment plans. These payment plans allow clients undergoing treatment to pay in stages which makes it affordable.
  • Outpatient treatment in private facilities is rarely ever limited to just detox. The rehabilitation treatments that these private programmes offer have different types of programmes that have higher success rates.
  • Private rehabilitation facilities can also offer greater confidentiality compared to an NHS drug treatment programme.
  • Compared to NHS services. There are no waiting lists that people will have to go on for their drug and alcohol addiction treatment.
  • The medical staff at the private rehab facilities offer improved medical care, contributing to their programme’s overall success rate.
the definition of detox

Advantages of NHS Rehab/Detox

  • The first advantage of the NHS rehab or detox programmes is that primary treatment is free. Since the treatment option is funded via the NHS, individuals will not have to worry about health insurance or payment when they receive treatment.
  • You will undergo a complete assessment by local drug and alcohol services to prepare you physically and mentally for your treatment journey.
  • If you successfully undergo primary care, you can qualify for secondary care as well.

What are the Drug and Alcohol Rehab Options Available in the UK?

People in the UK looking for alcohol and drug detox and rehab can choose from different kinds of therapies at local services.

  • The most common therapy option involves detoxification, which helps a person stop consuming alcohol or other addictive substances. The purpose of detox therapy is to eliminate leftover traces of alcohol or other addictive substances.
  • Medication-assisted treatment is a suitable option for people with a high dependence on alcohol or opioids. This is because they may experience withdrawal symptoms during therapy, increasing the risk of a relapse. Providing substitute drugs can allow them to transition into treatment without severe withdrawal symptoms.
  • There are support groups that provide people with an opportunity to meet others going through a similar experience.
  • Talk therapy requires the person to see a psychotherapist or counsellor. They use techniques such as cognitive behavioural therapy, psychodynamic therapy, which help a person understand how their thoughts affect their behaviour.

NHS Rehab

The NHS treatment options throughout the UK are a publicly funded healthcare initiative. They will usually offer treatment to individuals in a community setting since it is not possible to cover the cost of giving individual attention to each person that needs it.

Treatment via the NHS cannot be as accessible as some of the more privately funded initiatives.

The NHS rehab facilities also have a very different way of measuring success compared to privately owned centres. Instead of seeing full recovery as successful, they will often settle for improvement as a successful attempt at rehabilitation.

Private Rehab

The second option for people struggling with alcohol or drug addiction is to visit a private rehab clinic.

These types of rehabilitation centres focus on helping people struggling with substance abuse to make a full recovery.

Private rehabs don’t use a one-size-fits-all solution for their clients. Instead, they will focus on helping people make a full recovery through a unique treatment solution based on the needs of the client.

These inpatient private centres focus on helping you with all aspects of what you need; treatment will often begin with medically supervised detoxification but other treatment options are available too.

Therefore, the overall consensus is that if you can afford it and are looking for a better way to recover from your addiction, you should seek help through private rehab.

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Other Things to Consider

When deciding whether you or a loved one should choose between the NHS and privately run detox programmes, there are various other factors that you should consider.

a man struggling with drug withdrawal symptoms


Cost is the main differentiating factor between the NHS and private rehabilitation efforts. Some people cannot afford treatment in rehab centres where professionals cater to the patient’s needs when designing a treatment plan. Despite having a higher success rate, private rehab centres remain largely inaccessible to most people due to their high fees.

Some companies and employers may offer employees private health insurance, which may cover rehab-related expenses. However, if someone doesn’t have the right health insurance, NHS-funded services are their only option.


Among the thousands of people looking to apply for NHS-funded rehabilitation, only a fraction can get inpatient care. People will only get access to these services in very rare and specific circumstances.

As a result of the budgetary constraints that come with offering inpatient or residential treatment, many NHS rehab programmes focus on community treatment options.

Despite many clinicians working to help people with their addiction to alcohol or drugs, financial constraints can hinder their ability to provide treatment that caters to patients’ specific needs.

Intensive addiction treatment is reserved for people with severe addiction, which makes it difficult for people suffering from a mild addiction to qualify.

Is NHS Detox for alcohol addiction free?

NHS detox is free if you apply and are considered eligible for treatment. You will receive complete funding for a primary care treatment programme, which, if successful, can help you access secondary treatment.

How much does private alcohol detox cost

Alcohol detox can cost around £3,000 if you’re opting for a private rehab clinic. And if you choose inpatient treatment, you can expect to pay more for room. The cost is usually around £1,500 per week or approximately £6,000 for a 28-day programme.

Jason Sheirs
Author / Jason Shiers / Dip. Psych MBACP
Jason Shiers is a Certified Transformative Coach & Certified Psychotherapist who is a specialist in addiction, trauma and eating disorders. He has been working in the field of addiction for 25 years now.