Alcohol and drug addiction is a health issue similar to any other that is dealt with by the NHS.
Some people may still regard it as a lack of willpower or motivation – something, in other words, that is self-inflicted and should not bother the NHS. However, the UK and the World Health Organisation are firmly committed to the disease concept, and the NHS recognises this.
Unfortunately, their response is often less than satisfactory due, for the most part, to funding considerations.
What is NHS Rehab?
The NHS does not operate residential rehab units. Instead, it offers the following:
- Treatment via a GP practice that may prescribe some form of medication or counselling. Like all the NHS, GPs are overworked and usually unable to provide the kind of sustained care and support that addiction treatment requires. Most commonly, they will make referrals to community-based organisations and drugs agencies. The medication they provide is often a response to symptoms such as extreme anxiety or paranoia brought on by substance abuse. They will work with local NHS drug services to prescribe methadone as a substitute for heroin. Sadly, given the constraints they are under, the approach is more about crisis management than recovery.
- Referrals can be made to community-based organisations providing daycare and counselling. Such organisations do good work though their effectiveness varies depending on where you live in the UK. Nevertheless, it is possible to receive adequate support in the form of daycare. This should be combined with attendance at 12 step fellowship meetings such as NA.
- Referrals can, in theory, be made to any private treatment centre, including those run by charitable organisations and private clinics. However the likelihood of gaining funding from the NHS, whilst not impossible, is improbable.
It is possible to get a referral to Castle Craig via the NHS. However complex the process is, theoretically, it is still possible.
Can anyone be referred to treatment?
Anyone who is legally entitled through citizenship or residence to access NHS services can be referred for treatment.
The official NHS page on Drug Addiction: Getting Help states: “If you need treatment for drug addiction, you’re entitled to NHS care in the same way as anyone else who has a health problem.”
NHS Referral to Castle Craig Hospital – the Process
It can sometimes seem like a complex system, so it’s essential to know your rights and keep records of your conversations. A key worker will make a referral and recommend the best course of action and should involve you in the process.
The patient needs to show evidence of commitment – for both residential rehab and long-term recovery.
If all the advice and recommendations are followed, the key worker may apply for funding for an extended period of residential rehab at Castle Craig.
How to get NHS Funding for Residential Rehab
Getting government funding for rehab (residential addiction treatment) is very difficult, but it is possible with persistence over time. Once you are in the system, you have a chance.
The steps to obtain funding
Step 2: Keep Good Records
Step 3: Get Referred into the System
For further details on these steps, download and share our “A step by step guide to getting NHS funding for drug and alcohol rehab” infographic.
Who qualifies for NHS Rehab treatment?
Anyone with a diagnosed addiction problem that has not responded to less intensive treatments (such as counselling sessions), should be eligible for more intensive solutions such as residential rehab.
To justify their eligibility, the individual should show sustained commitment, discipline and determination to get clean and sober (this is extremely difficult for someone in active addiction).
Due to extreme pressures on funding for all treatments, it is essential to prove this commitment, hence the need for record-keeping and attendance at self-help meetings.
NHS – the situation today
The NHS is struggling to meet all its commitments. Addiction is a major health problem but despite its good intentions, the NHS is unable to provide the necessary treatment in sufficient quantity or quality.
This should not deter those in need from trying, but the process will likely be long and difficult. There may be alternative sources of help, depending on location.
Anyone seeking help from the NHS would be well advised to research other possible options that may be available locally, including charities, religious organisations and social services.
What should I do next?
If this is because you need help – for you or someone you care about – your next step is simple. Please – pick up the phone or send us a message, and we’ll talk about how we can help you.
We’ve been helping people for more than 30 years. We’re proud of how many people’s lives we’ve improved, how many lives we have saved – call us now to find out more about our admissions process.
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Page last reviewed and clinically fact-checked December 14, 2021