Bad Rehabs

Bad Rehabs

Possible Warning Signs About Your Residential Rehab

1. A Lack Of Qualifications

Do the staff and management at your rehab have any qualifications?

If so, what are they?

Are these qualifications related to the drug and alcohol or addiction field?

Were they obtained in Australia? If not, where were they obtained and what is the real meaning of the qualification? Some rehab facilities have staff members with no qualifications or have some strange-sounding qualifications that you cannot find in a Google search, or from any institution of which you have never heard, or cannot verify independently its significance anywhere. If this is the case, chances are they are not properly trained or qualified.

Many rehabs but mainly private rehabs are staffed with people with no formal qualifications. It’s not unusual for the owner, manager and counsellors to have no formal training. Many of these people are in recovery themselves.
Although these people might be good listeners and have plenty to offer, the world of addiction treatment has moved well beyond fake CV’s and members of AA and NA running rehabs. It is disappointing that it is still widespread and very prevalent in the private rehab world.

Do they have up to date national police checks or when working with children, do they have a working with children’s check? Do they have up to date first aid training?

(An exception to this might be if a counsellor has a criminal record because of their lived experience as a drug user and is now clean and living a life of recovery and working in the field. Government funded rehabs require people with a lived experience to be at least two years clean before they can work directly with clients)

Are the staff members associated or registered with their relevant industry bodies? If not, why?

These are very simple questions to ask your potential rehab when first enquiring about a service.

Most   Basic   Requirements;

Now if your rehab has none of these qualifications, requirements or training it might not be a bad rehab, maybe. Find out what they are offering and what treatment options are available and is it possible to independently verify these treatments. In this case you must also use your gut instincts or perhaps contact the industry peak body in your state to find out more. (In Victoria this is VAADA)

Do Doctors work at the rehab? Are there Doctors associated with this rehab? Are these Doctors addiction specialist or a local G.P and does this matter? Do they have psychiatrists or psychologists working or associated with the rehab? Does the rehab treat dual diagnosis patients? What are their rules about medication?

These are all very simple but important questions to ask when first contacting your potential residential rehab.

2. Guarantees And Miracles

Some rehabs claim that they have 100% success rates or people become sober for life with lifetime support. No legitimate rehab will ever claim to have 100% success rates because this is completely unrealistic. No legitimate treatment facility can ever guarantee “permanent addiction recovery”. No legitimate detox center would ever claim their program has absolutely “no withdrawal symptoms”. These kinds of claims are completely unfounded and have no basis in any evidence based practice.

Because of the very nature of addiction being a chronicle relapsing condition these claims are implausible and any rehab claiming this to be true are just being deceptive.


Any rehab website that says they have a book or a magic pill that can cure alcoholism or drug addiction, or some natural herb that has no reported side effects – especially if they just so happen to sell any of those miracle cures on their website be cautious! Any rehab that claims to have their own “secret treatment” or to “show the secrets of addiction,” or anything with the word “secret” in it anywhere. BEWARE! 

Relapse rates are very high in any treatment service anywhere in the world. Rehabs don’t like to tell this to people for various reasons.

They want to be as optimistic as possible for the person entering their service. Who would go to a rehab that said, “Look, most people relapse and that is beyond our control but while they are in our service we guarantee they will stay sober”. They wouldn’t get many customers. However many people do get sober and stay sober even after a brief stay in rehab.

Many people are not ready for rehabs. Regrettably movies and television have diluted what it actually means to enter a rehab facility.

It is a very serious formal intervention but a stable and enriching recovery post rehab requires continuous work and effort.

3. We Are The Very Best

Any rehab that’s states they are the very best are not only lying to themselves but to anyone who reads their advertisement placards. Stay away from such rubbish. What they are really trying to say is that we spend a lot of money on advertising. Don’t be amazed by beautiful scenery, expensive looking rooms, gardens and lavish treatment options. Although these things might make the stay more comfortable they alone are not necessarily going to improve the opportunities for a successful outcome.

If a rehab is offering “low cost” service or “very cheap treatment options” be cautiously optimistic and ask yourself if your loved one was dying from cancer would you be on the lookout for a treatment option that said “cheap chemotherapy”. It doesn’t mean they are a bad service but always bear in mind what you are doing.

4. We Do AA And NA Or It’s The Highway

12-step community mutual aid groups are not treatment programs. They are extremely effective in supporting long-term recovery but if your rehab is stating that they are a 12-step program this means they drive you to AA/NA/GA meetings.

Meetings are free and anyone can attend at anytime. 12-step meetings are not connected in any way to any rehab anywhere in the world. They are not for profit support groups or what they like to call ‘a fellowship of men and women who share their experience strength and hope with each’ and it’s 100% free and volunteer based. If your rehab wants to charge you thousands of dollars to drive you to AA meetings why don’t you say, “Aren’t they free?”

5. Sober Houses

A sober house can sometimes look like a rehab in disguise. Sober houses are the opposite of a full treatment residential rehab facility. They are usually meant more as places for people who have finished an intensive rehab program to slowly reintegrate back into society, but some of the less reputable ones will readily claim to offer full rehab services to make extra money. Halfway houses websites will usually have the word “house” in their name, or emphasise their affordability in their advertising. These organisations need to be reported to ACCC and the Police Fraud Squad and your local Member.

In the United States many sober houses do offer full residential treatment similar or even better than normal residential (rehab) treatment services in Australia. But America has tens of thousands of residential treatment services so it is very difficult to compare Australia to America.

Residential Houses in Australia are transitional houses. Post rehab houses are meant as a safe and secure environment for a service user to gradually transition back into the community.

6. Addiction Is A Buzz Word

It seems today any counselling service has suddenly become addiction specialist. If a counselling service states this but also states they treat couples counselling, depression, anxiety, marriage counselling ect… It is likely they have caught the BUZZ. a drug and alcohol specialist will only only treat substance dependant clients. (Maybe the family members but nothing else)

7. Short- Term, Long-Term Rehab

Any rehab offering miracle 3 day intensives or magical cures in a very short period of time are deceptive and dangerous.

A detox for most substances is 5 to 10 days and for Ice is generally longer. 3 day miracle cures or one week magical cures are a recipe for relapse and dangerous consequences.

Any counselling service stating that they have all the answers and you can only trust them and no one else, look elsewhere.

50-70% of all substance dependant people entering a rehab or regularly attending mutual aid groups (AA/NA ect..) will relapse in their first 12 months. The percentage slowly decreases up until the first 5 years of sobriety and will remain at 15% for the rest of their lives so long as they remain clean and sober. White & Kurtz (2006)

the late late show with craig ferguson1
Play Video

Craig Ferguson Talks About Life As A Recovering Alcoholic and His Stay In Rehab

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