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Residential Rehab

Searching for residential rehab means you and your loved ones are going through a difficult time right now. You may have tried many times to control your drinking, control the drugs, but started to realise that the alcohol and drugs in fact control your lives. You got to the point where you feel you have no choice but to get away from your home environment and get help from professionals who know how to help people like you.

It’s a difficult decision to make, but a stay at residential rehab is the most effective way of tackling alcohol addiction or drug addiction. This page explains what to expect from residential rehab for drugs and/or alcohol, the benefits of intensive inpatient treatment, and how it can help you or your loved one achieve recovery and live a life free from addiction.

What happens in residential rehab?

Residential rehab for alcohol and drug addiction offers an intensive and focused space where a person is supported by a team of experienced experts, away from their home environment, away from all the triggers and chaos. A stay at residential rehab gives you the chance to focus on yourself and receive joined-up, targeted care. It is proven to be more effective than solely community-based treatment plans.

It therefore has far higher positive outcome rates than other interventions, and has the best success rates for long term recovery.

At a residential rehab clinic a patient can expect medical and psychiatric support, a detox programme, structured routine, a team of professional therapists running individual and group therapies, holistic treatment such as fitness and massage, as well as complementary therapies such as equine or art therapy.

This means you can focus on the job at hand – to get well. It is an opportunity for intensive support to deal with all facets of addiction. It is often the impetus which is needed to build a life of long-term recovery.

There are various types of residential rehab centres, with some belonging to charities, some with hotel-style facilities, and others which treat a variety of mental health and psychiatric disorders. There are also family-run centres as well as those that are part of a nationwide network of small centres.

Like any treatment, it can be expensive but we believe this is an investment worth making to help someone recover from alcohol, drug or gambling addiction, and live a life free from addiction.

Does residential rehab work?

Yes it does. There is a strong evidence base to support residential rehab as the most effective way to tackle alcoholism or drug addiction.  

Residential Rehab Success Rates

We know that spending a sustained period in residential rehab works. Residential rehab has been demonstrated to be more effective than community-based treatments, with patients whose treatment includes a residential component generally getting better outcomes. Residential rehab with a structured programme, psychosocial intervention, prescribing, detox, support workers and therapeutic input has the best outcomes. 

There are a number of reasons for this. The individual in rehab is focused on the task at hand, without distractions from the outside world. They are supported throughout the day, by teams of people who are the experts in their field, and have the experience and knowledge to help someone. 

This is not to say that family and friends out in the community are not helpful – they are – but addiction and recovery requires specialist input. It also tends to be faster, as treatment and therapy is more intense. 

Outcomes and success of residential rehab clinics

Residential rehab typically sees far better outcomes than community-based treatment for addiction, with a study by The National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse showing success rates ranging from 50% better to 400% better for treatment which had a residential component.

Not all residential rehabilitation centres are the same, though. According to the same study, the best residential rehabs see more than 60% of their residents go on to overcome dependence and addiction, whilst those at the bottom of the scale struggle to enable 20% to overcome addiction. 

We always recommend that you look at regulator reports from the Care Quality Commission and Health Improvement Scotland before choosing the place for you or your loved one, as staff, routines, facilities and programmes can all make a difference to effectiveness and outcomes. 

Residential rehab as a last resort

People often wait until the last minute until they look for help, often viewing residential rehab as a last resort. The thought of going to a residential rehab clinic away from your local area, the idea of being among others in group or during meals, the financial commitment, taking time away from work or family can all provoke anxiety and cause people to delay treatment. It’s a sad fact, but delaying treatment you are sadly likely to keep drinking or using drugs for longer, increasing the damage to your body and relationships. People enter rehab with a host of physical problems ranging from cirrhosis of the liver from prolonged drinking, to nasal problems due to cocaine or bladder problems due to ketamine. A residential rehab clinic with a dedicated medically-managed detox team is the best place to be if you have complications which could require medical attention. Having access to skilled medical professionals in one place, 24 hours a day, is undoubtedly a safer was to go through the daunting process of detox.

In the long run, if someone goes to residential rehab sooner rather than later this can save time and money, and a whole lot of health problems further down the line. The intense therapy allows you to target and deal with underlying mental health issues which may be blocking recovery and causing you to use alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism. 

Community treatment is cheaper but is also longer and less intensive, meaning that outcomes can take longer to achieve, and the social and emotional cost can be greater. 

Residential rehab expertise

Top residential rehab clinics have large multidisciplinary teams under one roof, who are well adept at dealing with a variety of problems:

  • Psychiatrists focus on assessments, diagnostics, detox and prescribing; 
  • Nurses focus on medical care; 
  • On-call doctors are ready for medical emergencies; 
  • Therapy staff deal with various therapies from the 12 Steps, to CBT, MET and DBT and EMDR; 
  • Specialist therapists treat specific forms of addiction, trauma, grief, and eating disorders.

The reason there are so many people with so many skills is because it’s important for treatment to be delivered by experts in their field, who have the experience and time to devote to dealing with the addiction, as well as any other physical or mental disorders which are playing a part in that addiction. Addressing all of these issues together, through a complex support system in residential rehab, is therefore key.

What else do you need? Time. 

It’s important to factor in time. Rushing residential rehab in a couple of weeks will not give you the time you need to tackle the issues which have made your life a mess. Think of how long you have suffered from these issues – years, decades? A two or three week period in rehab won’t change much. Research shows the best outcomes come when people stay in residential rehab for five weeks or more, with the so-called “Gold Standard” being 90 days. The more time you can give to your recovery, the better.

Whatever the complexity of the case, the sooner someone enters a residential programme, the sooner you’re likely to have a better outcome.

Castle Craig success rates

There is a strong evidence base to support the treatment methods used as part of Castle Craig’s residential rehab treatment for drug and alcohol addictions. Combining academic and theoretical backing with lived experience and clear outcomes, our success rates and satisfaction rates are testimony to the compassionate and caring approach we take, always underpinned by clinical expertise. 

According to our survey of 2015, nearly three quarters of those who attended treatment at Castle Craig were totally abstinent from all drugs or alcohol after a year. Nursing care, detoxification, individual therapy, group therapy, staff support and family therapy were all rated good, very good, or excellent. 

Reasons Why Residential Rehab Works

Structure 24/7 

Residential rehab tends to have lots of structure, which is difficult to achieve with outpatient treatment. A successful treatment programme for addictive disease benefits from this kind of routine because so often in the lives of people who misuse drugs or alcohol there is no structure. The drug or drink dictates your life and how you live it.

Structure is important because it helps you to immerse yourself in the experience, and provides a sense of routine which keeps you on track. It can be disorientating to be without alcohol or drugs for the first time in a long time, or away from family and friends. But this is important to build new habits and form new routines which can last a lifetime.

Here at Castle Craig we have an intensive daily schedule. Here is an example.

Typically patients will wake up around 7:00am for meditation and breakfast, 

A morning lecture and discussion session followed by group therapy. 

Lunch is followed by either individual therapies, afternoon workshops, groups, fitness sessions or complementary therapies. 

In the groups there are opportunities to join local Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous groups. We also encourage people to do reading and ‘homework’ assignments as part of their 12-Step therapy.

Total focus

Recovery isn’t easy. But residential rehab centres do provide an environment which can make the process smoother by enabling focus away from work, life, relationships and other potential stresses. We remove any external influences or people which may not help recovery during your stay.

For many, it will be the first time they are without drugs and alcohol in a long time, and as a result, it will feel disorientating. Arriving at residential rehab can be daunting, but you get a warm welcome. The thing to bear in mind is that everyone is in the same boat, everyone has shared experiences, no one is judging you. People who are further into their recovery can help you with the beginning of yours – you get to learn from others who really know how you feel.

It’s important to be able to step away from the everyday and avoid triggering environments, build new and healthy routines, and establish positive thought patterns, to help ensure your recovery is sustained after you leave treatment. Having a focus helps make long-term abstinence more likely, and is one of the reasons residential rehab has been shown to be so effective.

Being in a residential rehab centre gives you the time and space to focus on overcoming you addiction and building a life without alcohol or drug dependency. 

Supervised detox

We often hear about people going ‘cold turkey,’ but sudden abstinence from drugs or alcohol can be very difficult – and dangerous without the right physical and emotional support. Most inpatient rehab programmes have a supervised detox process to ensure people are supported as they come off drugs and/or alcohol. This will vary from person to person, and every programme is personalised and based on medical expertise.

Anyone physically dependent upon drugs and/ or alcohol will experience withdrawal symptoms when stopping and be very vulnerable. Residential rehab is a space where people can manage drug cravings and feel more comfortable, as well have the medical supervision if they get withdrawal symptoms such as tremors or seizures. 

A specialist doctor is available exclusively to Castle Craig, onsite, 24 hours a day, seven days a week in case of emergency.


Having so many therapies under one roof means every patient’s unique needs can be met. Having a comprehensive, varied, and holistic approach allows for patients with varied requirements to get a personalised plan. This is often not possible in other contexts outside of residential rehab.

A programme of clinical and complementary therapies for mind, body, and spirit, can also help success in long-term abstinence.

Therapists can work together to integrate appropriate therapies into bespoke treatment programmes which address each patient’s unique needs. These might include complementary therapy, experiential therapy, specialised therapy (which can address comorbidities), trauma therapy, and group therapy. 

Combining individual therapy with group therapy also means patients get personalised attention, as well as being able to support one another through peer discussion.

A comprehensive and personal approach will give patients a range of tools and coping mechanisms so they can continue their lives free from drugs, alcohol, and other behaviours. 

Planning continuing care

It is really important for any period of residential rehab to be part of an integrated care pathway. Many people come from community-based treatment services before accessing residential rehab (although they do not need to) and also return for further structured support.

Residential rehab is not the end of a treatment process, and when people complete their treatment in residential rehab they can receive continuing care with regular remote therapy sessions via video conference. You can also be guided towards continued, structured support from the healthcare system as you continue on your path to overcoming addiction.

This is all to help make sure you’re not suddenly overwhelmed, feeling you have to manage your addiction and recovery alone when you leave treatment. A key part of helping someone take responsibility for their recovery is giving you the confidence to know when you need support and how you can reach out it. Once you leave rehab, you never need to feel alone in your recovery – you’ll know who to contact and how to gain strength from others.

You gain a comprehensive plan and pathway which uses the skills and coping mechanisms you’ve learned in rehab. Where appropriate we will involve family and friends, so you have a network of support when you leave. We have regular follow up appointments, and can help with integration back into community treatment. 

We know recovery is a journey, and we do everything we can to support you through all parts of it.

In residential rehab everyone is in the same boat, everyone has shared experiences, no one is judging you. 

Other Benefits of Residential Rehab

Start treatment sooner

Community care often involves long assessments and waiting lists. By entering residential rehab you can be supported as soon as you step through the door. Detox can begin immediately, and therapy is offered as soon as a patient is medically able. With a higher ratio of clinicians and therapists to patients, everyone is able to get the support that they need, immediately. In many cases we can admit patients within 24 hours.

Get results faster

Being in an environment that is focused on recovery 24/7 means the process is much faster than in the community, where interventions may only be for a couple of hours a week. It also removes people from drugs or alcohol, so they can begin the physical detox faster, which allows them to progress to working on the challenging behaviours and thoughts which make them seek out drugs and alcohol. Bespoke and tailor-made treatment plans mean it’s possible to start work earlier – and go through the process faster.

Peer support

Addiction leads to isolation and recovery brings connection. Being in a residential rehab centre means there are always others around to speak with and spend time with, who are in the same situation as you. Having these conversations helps develop insight, offer encouragement, and are another crucial element of the recovery process. Many members of our team have personal experience of addiction, which helps them to provide the compassion and empathy we believe is crucial to long-term recovery.

Personalised programme

We believe behavioural addiction treatment is most effective when it’s customised to the person being treated. Some treatment is based on prescribed pathways rather than taking a holistic view of the patient and their personal difficulties. Being in a residential environment makes it possible for all aspects of an individual’s life and addiction to be addressed. 

Downsides & Risks of Residential Rehab

How much does residential rehab cost?

There’s no denying it – residential rehab is more expensive than community care. But so is the cost of addiction. We recognise cost can be a barrier, and so work with patients to access insurance and get funding from health providers like the NHS. But, we truly care about the work we do, and about helping as many people as we can, and this is why our prices are considerably cheaper than comparable residential rehab clinics in the UK and the US.

Not a silver bullet

Sometimes residential rehab is perceived as a silver bullet, particularly in the media. But the most successful outcomes come when the patient is motivated and committed to living a life free from drugs and alcohol. Our team of world-class psychiatrists, doctors, nurses and therapists do everything they can to support the individual, and help as much as they can towards a successful outcome. It’s a long journey and time at Castle Craig will be part of kickstarting long-lasting change.

Free Residential Rehab on the NHS

It is possible to get a referral to Castle Craig via the NHS. It can seem like a complex system at times, so it’s important to know your rights and keep records of your conversations. A key worker will make a referral and make recommendations for the best course of action, and should involve you in the process. It is important for the patient 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.

What should I do next?

If you’ve read this far, you clearly have a deep interest in rehab. 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.

Some helpful pages for more information:

What is involved in the Castle Craig treatment programme?

How do I arrange an admission into residential rehab?

What are the rooms like in Castle Craig residential rehab?

Page last reviewed and medically fact-checked | December 18, 2020