A rehabilitation center is an institution that provides care and support to enable a return to a healthy life after a period of illness. In this context we are concerned with alcohol rehabilitation centers which provide care and support for people suffering from alcoholism. A rehabilitation center will often provide both the medical and psychological care needed to treat alcoholism. As such, in the UK, a rehabilitation center will usually provide both alcohol detox and on-going psychological rehabilitation, both of which are commonly necessary to achieve recovery from alcoholism.
As far as the rehab element of treatment is concerned, there are various types of rehabilitation center – twelve step rehabilitation center, therapeutic community rehabilitation center, religious based rehabilitation center, and medical model rehabilitation center are the commonest found forms. Of these, the commonest form of rehabilitation center in the UK is twelve step.
All rehabilitation centers tend to share a number of key features. Residents must be drug and alcohol free (apart from tobacco); the rehabilitation center provides a structured programme of psychological, educational and social therapy, which aims at preparing the alcoholic or addict to manage better an alcohol free life back in society; rehabilitation center programme lengths vary between 1 and 9 months. A rehabilitation center will often provide detox in-house when this is necessary, in advance of commencement of the rehabilitation programme.
Admission to a rehabilitation center for a period of residential treatment, appears to present a higher probability of successful outcome than does community based treatment. A 1996 follow-up study, conducted as part of the National Treatment Outcome Research Study (NTORS) indicated the following (Gossop M et al, 1999): When compared to community services, a residential rehabilitation center is likely to achieve comparable outcomes, but treat clients with more severe patterns of addiction, thus indicating greater effectiveness of residential rehabilitation centers as compared to community rehabilitation.
Compared to early leavers from a rehabilitation center those retained at least 28 days in short rehabilitation center programmes, and 90 days in longer rehabilitation center programmes are probably four times less likely to relapse than others, as indicated by some research studies. The issue of retention in a rehabilitation center is central to effectiveness, and can be seen as a function of how the rehabilitation center relates to its clients, rather than the reverse. A rehabilitation center which actively engage with clients, provide supportive environments and well structured programmes, which are clear about their policies and their therapies, and which tailor their activities to individual needs produce better outcomes.