The findings have been influenced by people who use a wide range of treatment services, those with lived experience of residential treatment, commissioners and providers of residential and community-based treatment.

The report has wide ranging endorsement from across the drug and alcohol treatment sector.

For the full report and recommendations click here 

Making Rehab Work Image of Report

We believe this is an important report. The causes for the decline in access to residential treatment are complicated, encompassing multiple factors which have changed over time. Addressing funding levels, and the way that treatment is commissioned, are essential actions. However, to improve access to residential treatment in England will require commitment from all stakeholders including local government, commissioners, Office for Health Improvement and Disparities, providers and others. We will all need to collaborate to develop improved approaches across the sector.

The full range of evidence-based services should be available for people in need wherever they live. This report does not advocate for one treatment approach instead of another. We need appropriately funded community-based treatment and improved access to residential treatment.

The people who will benefit from Making Rehab Work are amongst the most highly stigmatised in society. They are people who face prejudice on a daily basis that hinders their progress in life. They are brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, mums and dads. Often the discrimination they face started when then they were very young and has lasted a life time. 

This can change. 

Making Rehab Work is vital work and will provide a life line to the people with complex and multiple needs.

Key findings 

  • Residential treatment is an evidence-based intervention which is effective in terms of treatment and cost.
  • Residential treatment is delivered to a higher standard than ever before. It enables people with more complex needs to recover and lead happy and healthy lives. 
  • But fewer and fewer people are able to access it.
  • The report finds that the system that enables access isn’t working.
  • Thousands more people every year should be benefiting from life-saving residential treatment.
  • The report highlights the dramatic decline in access to rehab over the last 10 years and provides recommendations make rehab work for everyone.

For the full report and recommendations click here 

We asked some people with experience of rehab to talk about the barriers they personally experienced to accessing rehab, and what could be done to improve access.

Ben’s story

My name is Ben. I’m a resident in rehab. What I want to talk about is my process, and some of the obstacles I faced to actually enter treatment, I firstly want to start to talk about the funding element of that process, what happened with me was that I needed to enter detox to then come into rehab. I could only come to detox and rehab because I have a dual diagnosis of borderline personality disorder, generalised anxiety disorder, major depressive disorder, these mental health conditions exacerbate my condition and also complicate matters in this process, I had to wait for it,  it was a long wait, it was actually six months. So, as I said, the bed in rehab was dependent upon me completing the detox. I guess what I'm trying to say is that as well as that funding process in itself, it was so stressful, it had to go to panel, I had to jump through hoops to fulfil the objectives that were required for me to get the funding. Now as you can imagine, my life prior to treatment was fairly chaotic. I was an intravenous user of crack cocaine and heroin, I took xanax , my life was completely unmanageable. So there are a couple of the obstacles that I face particularly related to funding my mental health. I hope I have clarified that and helped somebody else in the process. I'm in treatment now, I'm in a safe place. I'm finally getting the future that I’m worth of and that I deserve. And I'm very grateful for that.

Jane’s story

I’ve been asked to talk about what barriers are there to people achieving and sustaining their recovery. There's definitely an issue with funding at the moment. I had to wait ages, I was desperate to get into rehab. I was on the phone every day to my key worker in tears. It was really, really difficult. Key workers have a really heavy workload. They're on the phone 24/7.  They do work out of hours and they really care about their clients. I also want to touch on more specialist rehabs to help people with post-traumatic stress, abuse, rape. I've received counselling cancelling for that. I just wish there were more rehabs that specialised in that. The counselling has helped me, but I've also had to help myself. There's always a reason why people use drugs, alcohol. Mental health is also a very big. Rehab has changed my life. I absolutely love it here. I’ve become stronger, more assertive. I just wish you could see the person I was when I first came on that doorstep. The staff are amazing. They genuinely care about us. They have experience themselves, so they get an understanding of the addiction that we've been through. 


The issue of funding really needs to be addressed. The government needs to see an understanding of people in addiction. We're not all nasty, horrible people. We're human beings. We didn't ask to be addicts. Schooling as well. You know, I do think it should be addressed in schools about drug use alcohol, not just less than once a week on it, but you know, really get the message across to these young children because they're going out into society. It's everywhere. Also, more support when you leave, leave rehab, not just a phone call once a week from your key worker. The hardest part is going to be when I walked out of rehab you know having conquered addiction and to be fair, that probably was the easiest part but as regards issues mentally, physically, I still need support. Also support for families that have been through addiction with a loved one. They need your support. You know there's so much stigmatism now, still about addiction. So yeah, that's what I want. 

Dave’s story 

For me it took quite a while to get into rehab, it was a long process you know, personally I think care could be better beforehand, more information, more sessions you could do. For me rehab has absolutely changed my life, the way that they conduct themselves, the way that they respect you as a person you know, they treat you like any other individual, there’s no prejudice or anything. 


I've been here for 21 and a half weeks, I came a shy, timid lad, that wouldn’t say boo to a goose I've grown in confidence because they supported me.  I need to start my aftercare now and I can't thank them enough. And for me how things could be addressed would be more funding. I know it's probably what everybody hears. But more funding definitely and a more places like this, you know, because I can say they treat you like an actual person, like a human being, they respect your views  without any prejudice. And I just think more funding towards rehab facilities would be a lot better.