The Right Choice

Going to rehab should be an informed decision, not a blind date. Hannah Shead suggests ways to achieve a good match.

Hannah Shead of Trevi House Rehab
Hannah Shead is Chief Executive of Trevi House.

I can still recall the first time that a client told me he wanted to go to rehab. I was working in a community drug service and my client was using heroin chaotically. He had lost his job and his family and was on the cusp of becoming homeless. Yes, rehab seemed the perfect solution. I told my colleague, who promptly advised me which rehab to send him to.

So, off my client went. He did extremely well and it turns out that the rehab, Sefton Park, was a good match for his needs. However, when I look back I shudder that this successful match of need to placement was more a matter of luck than clinical judgement.

This was 17 years ago, and things have come a long way. Many drug and alcohol teams have ‘approved providers lists’ and have a system for placing clients according to their treatment needs.

It should be remembered however, that going to rehab is quite literally a life-changing decision and the importance of choosing the right provider cannot be overstated. So, what sort of questions might you want to ask your client – or be asking yourself, if you are the potential resident?

Choosing the right rehab can be daunting.
Choosing the right rehab can be daunting.


Some women I talk to are very vocal about their need to be in an all-female environment, as the issues underlying their addiction are not ones that they would wish to work through in mixed groups. Some people recognise the potential distraction of the opposite sex and identify single sex rehabs as providing the best opportunity to focus on recovery.

Equally, there will be those that want the opportunity to work on their relationships with both men and women, and welcome the diversity that a mixed rehab can offer.

There is no right or wrong – only what is right for the individual.


This is an important part of the decision- making process. People all too often think that rehab is either 12-step or not, but there is a huge scope of choice within the different 12-step programmes on offer so this is not always a helpful distinction to make.

Treatment centres throughout the UK offer a rich variety of programmes, with a wide range of interventions such as CBT, person-centred counselling, family work, education and training, couples therapy, outdoor pursuits and volunteering, to name but a few.


For some people, rehab will offer the opportunity to make a fresh start elsewhere, however, for others it is important to stay close to their home environment and community.


There are different lengths of programme on offer, according to need.


I am pleased to know that my service is a member of Choices, a group of independent rehabs that have come together to share best practice and make the options easier to understand. Representatives of our 16 rehabs meet every two months to explore ways that we can work together to improve the resident’s experience.

One of the greatest perks of being a Choices member has been the opportunity to visit the other centres. The experience of walking into a rehab and quite simply getting a ‘feel’ for it is unrivalled and we would encourage anyone considering going into rehab to go and visit at least one possible unit. You can also use resources such as the DDN listing Public Health England’s Rehab Online and the Choices website to compare the different centres.

We invite you to look beyond our leaflets and referral paperwork and visit us. Come and meet our current residents – you can be sure that they will tell it as it is! Stay for lunch; check out our hospitality, our food and drinks.

Come and get to know how we tick. Don’t just let us assess you or your client – come and assess us!

Find out more at

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