acquiesce - October 7th, 2021

Private vs NHS Rehab | Differences Explained

In the UK, those struggling with addictions have free access to drug and alcohol services provided by the National Health Service (NHS) or they can opt for private healthcare and addiction services. In this article, we will be explaining the key differences between the two.

NHS Rehab

The NHS provides help for those with alcohol and drug addictions by providing a number of NHS funded rehabilitation centres throughout the UK. Most of these offer outpatient treatment where appointments are made on a regular basis, however, there are some inpatient programmes available that provide constant supervision and support.

Private Rehabilitation

Private rehabilitation is the most popular alternative to NHS rehab and provides much more in-depth support. At Acquiesce, our rehabilitation programme takes place in a luxury residential accommodation, offering a high level of focused, individual treatment to no more than 6 residential individuals at any one time, providing a high quality service. 

This helps individuals learn how to live a fulfilling and enjoyable life free from drug and alcohol addiction. It is a common misconception that becoming substance free once means they will never turn to drugs or alcohol again, however, for many people this is not the case. 

Our recovery model is designed to reduce the likelihood of a relapse, teaching individuals how to overcome emotional triggers or social circles and environments where substance abuse occurs.

What are the Differences Between Private Rehab and NHS Rehab?


NHS services are more accessible to a wide range of people as they are free. However, it is worth noting that of all the people who accessed support with alcohol and substances via the NHS in 2019, only 4% received inpatient or residential support as it is only offered in very specific circumstances and most services are just community based.

It’s also important to mention that in order to get the right kind of care for more severe addictions, the waiting list is very long and some people may not receive support in time.

Private rehabilitations on the other hand have much shorter waiting times (if any at all) and can offer almost immediate support. The only drawback of course is that private rehab isn’t free, making it less accessible to a wider range of people.

Quality of Care

All NHS and private detox and rehab services in the UK must meet clinical standards and are monitored by the same regulatory authority.

Success Rate 

A study published by the NHS’ National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse UK in 2012 looked at the success rates of every private clinic across the UK. It found that the best performing facilities achieve success rates of between 60% and 80% of individuals receiving residential treatment remained abstinent five years after completing their programmes. 

What’s more, the success rates enjoyed by the best private rehab clinics are many times better than the rates achieved through NHS and community-based services. The 2012 report demonstrates as much. 

Put simply, you stand a better chance of achieving abstinence after five years by undergoing rehab at a private clinic. Over the years, drug rehab experts have affirmed, repeatedly, that residential treatment at a private clinic works better than any other treatment option available.

Private vs NHS Rehab: Which is Better?

As discussed, there are advantages and drawbacks to both private and NHS rehabilitation services, however, according to success rates, private rehabilitation is better.

The key problem with NHS services is that with such limited funding, there simply aren’t enough resources to meet the needs of everyone seeking help, meaning many don’t qualify for residential treatment on the NHS and when they do, their choices are limited.

Colin Drummond, professor of addictions psychiatry at King’s College London discussed the financial challenges facing NHS service providers. He said: 

“Typically, addiction services in England have seen cuts of 30% but some areas are planning cuts of up to 50%. In Birmingham, for example, the addiction treatment budget was cut from £26m to £19m in 2015-16.”

Get the Right Kind of Support Today

If you are struggling with an addiction and would like to schedule a free consultation with Acquiesce or find out more about our programmes, please call 01204 771940 or submit an entry form

Any questions you have will be answered by a member of our specialist recovery staff who will be happy to discuss the range of services we offer, in relation to your unique circumstances. Your enquiry and any personal information will remain confidential.

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