An Effective Response to Rehab Waiting Lists

The topic at one glance

  • Those of us in need of drug rehab often face a long waiting list for treatment.

  • An inpatient rehab can offer the best chance of recovery, so the need to wait for a vacancy can have serious repercussions.

  • Up to fifty percent of people put on a waiting list won’t make it to rehab.

  • Thailand offers an alternative to long waiting lists in western countries.


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I Feel Like Giving Up – What Do I Have to Do to Get into Rehab?

Waiting List: Men queuing during the Great Depression in the USAIt may come as a surprise to those of us desperate to escape addiction to find the resources we need to make this change aren’t always easy to access. Where help is available, it often involves huge expense or being stuck on a waiting list for state-funded rehab. Despite all the hand-wringing of politicians fighting their ‘war on drugs’, there is surprisingly limited funding for actual solutions to the problem. In locations such as the UK, where overdose deaths have hit record levels, there has been a significant reduction in the money available to fund rehab beds.

It is not only clients in need of state-funded rehab who may be faced with a waiting list. Even if you can afford to pay for treatment, there is no guarantee you are going to find something right away in your local area.

The Importance of Inpatient Addiction Treatment

It can be incredibly difficult to break free of an addiction problem without appropriate support and resources. We can sometimes manage to get through withdrawals alone (although this can be dangerous) if we have a good enough reason to, but the problem isn’t so much stopping but staying stopped. There are usually underlying issues driving the addictive behavior, and these are unlikely to be resolved by detoxing the body from alcohol or other drugs.

It’s Not Only About Getting Clean: Inpatient Treatment Centers Teach You How To Do Recovery

An inpatient treatment program can offer the best chance of escape from addiction because the focus is on removing any obstacles to recovery. Rehab provides clients with effective tools and strategies so they can deal with life without the need of chemical assistance. There is also the opportunity to work with a therapist to uncover any underlying issues (e.g. childhood trauma) that drive the desire to escape reality by using mind-altering substances.

Some of the other benefits of inpatient addiction treatment include:

  • It provides a safe environment for clients who are still dealing with withdrawal symptoms.

  • This type of program greatly increases the likelihood of making it through those early days of recovery when clients are at their highest risk of relapse.

  • Being around other people going through a similar process can greatly increase motivation.

  • It means being away from the usual triggers and stresses that drive the addictive behavior.

  • It means the client can focus all his/her energy on recovery (this single-mindedness of purpose increases the chances of success).

  • It often happens that clients are dealing with other issues such as chronic anxiety or recurring depression which can be dealt with in rehab specializing in dual diagnosis.

Why Can It Be So Hard to Access Rehab Treatment?

The benefits of a rehab program are obvious, so why can it be so hard to access treatment? Why are those people who are desperate to escape addiction put on a waiting list or not helped at all?

Lack of willingness to invest money into helping those who want to recover

Despite the colossal expenditure by governments around the world on their ‘war on drugs’ (the US government alone has spent over 1 trillion dollars ), there isn’t the same willingness to invest money into helping those who want to recover. This creates an unacceptable situation where people are punished for their addiction problems while also having no means of escaping these problems.

Failure to understand the real reasons behind addiction

A cynic might wonder if the emphasis on punishment rather than providing help is based on a 19th Century mentality towards addiction. Despite all the scientific evidence to the contrary, there can still be an underlying attitude that those who develop this type of problem are somehow weak-willed or willfully misbehaving. This failure to understand the real reasons behind addiction has meant the problem is getting worse despite forty years of fighting a war on drugs.

‘Performance targets’ tempt government-funded rehabs to turn away the ‘harder cases’

It can often be the most desperate clients who find it hardest to gain access to inpatient treatment. One reason for this is the pressure on government-funded rehabs to meet certain ‘performance targets’. This means if too many clients fail to complete the program, the facility could lose its funding. There is, therefore, a temptation to turn away the ‘harder cases’ where there is a higher risk of relapse.

Inpatient Addiction Treatment Waiting Lists around the World

Here are some sobering statistics on rehab waiting lists from around the globe:

[/fusion_fontawesome]“…treatment in hospital and psychiatric settings, mixed in with clients suffering mental illnesses not relevant to addiction such as schizophrenia, or government-funded treatment with long waiting lists and a client group including often unmotivated court-ordered addicts.”


Matt (ex-Hope Client) describing the situation in Australia

Why is Being Put on a Rehab Waiting List a Problem?

One of the jobs of government is to ration public resources. Even in those societies where the public is willing to pay high taxes, there is still going to be a limit on the funding available for things like addiction services. It might seem reasonable then that those in need of government-funded rehab sometimes need to be put on a waiting list. The problem is this delay in treatment can have severe consequences.

Here are some of the risks associated with having to wait for rehab:

  • Research suggests up to 50 % of those who are put on a waiting list drop out before a place becomes available. The longer the waiting list, the more likely to client is to fall by the wayside.

  • The best hope for a lasting recovery from addiction is when they client has ‘hit rock bottom’, but if there is a long wait for treatment, this opportunity can pass, and it might never return.

  • Some clients are in such a desperate physical state that any delay to treatment could mean they won’t survive.

  • The negative consequences of the addiction continue to impact not only those caught up in addiction but also their family and friends.

Pros and Cons of State Funded Rehab

Gaining access to a state-funded rehab without having to wait can mean the difference between life and death. These facilities do fantastic work, but it is worth mentioning here that there are pros and cons with this type of option:

The Pros and Cons of State-Funded Rehab include:

  • It can mean that treatment is free.

  • In some countries (e.g. US), state-funded rehab can be offered as an alternative to going to prison.

  • There are plenty of dedicated addiction professionals working in these state-funded facilities.

  • Some of these facilities offer continued treatment follow rehab (e.g. sober living houses).

  • Waiting lists.

  • Lack of choice regarding treatment program (i.e. the options offered are determined by what is available rather than what you need).

  • There may be pressure to treat you in the shortest possible time.

  • Some of state-funded rehabs follow the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach which is pretty much discredited.

  • You are more likely to be living in a community where a sizable number of clients just don’t want to be there (e.g. court-mandated rehab clients).

  • These rehabs may have a poor client-to-therapist ratio, and this may mean you don’t get sufficient attention during your stay.

  • The resources available at a state-funded treatment center are often limited.

  • The facility may be overcrowded with little in the way of home comforts.

Thailand as an Alternative to Long Waiting Lists in the West

People from the West have been coming to Thailand for addiction help since at least the 1960s. Initially, the only options available were detox temples like Thamkrabok, but over the last two decades, a number of Western-style private facilities have opened their doors.

Some of the reasons clients give us from choosing Thailand for addiction treatment include:

  • Long waiting lists at home.

  • Lack of suitable treatment options at home.

  • Clients like the individualized treatment approach we offer at Hope (this is far more effective than the one-size-fits-all approach common in some countries).

  • Clients can be attracted to the mix between Western (e.g. CBT) and Eastern (e.g. mindfulness) approaches.

  • Thailand offers a completely different environment to what most clients are used to, and this can make it easier for them to see things in a new way.

How Do I Get into Rehab? Is Getting into Rehab a Difficult Process?

The exact process for accessing government-funded rehab can differ depending on the country. This process usually begins with a visit to your family doctor or contact with the addiction services. There is usually going to be some type of assessment made to determine your suitability for a program, and if you meet the criteria, you can expect to be put on a waiting list.

Finding a place at a private rehab is usually easier than a government-funded facility unless you live in a country where there is currently a high demand for beds. It usually begins with a phone call or email to the facility you are considering. There are online services available that find a private rehab on your behalf, but this usually means you end up paying hefty commission

The process for getting into Hope Rehab is straightforward:

  • Complete the initial assessment by phone or do it online

  • Pay your deposit

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Should you have any questions regarding the topic or addiction treatment in general, please don’t hesitate to drop us a message via the contact form below. Same goes if you would like to enquire about a space for yourself or a loved one at Hope Rehab.


Should you have any questions regarding the topic or addiction treatment in general, please don’t hesitate to drop us a message via the contact form below. Same goes if you would like to enquire about a space for yourself or a loved one at Hope Rehab.

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