What Are The Common Misconceptions About Rehab?

Laura Smart - Author for Rehab Clinics Group

Laura Smart - Last Updated: May 26, 2023

Last reviewed: September 20, 2022 by Dr Alexander Lapa. All information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

About This Page

Rehab is often seen as a last resort for those struggling with addiction. However, rehab can be an incredibly beneficial experience for those who are ready and willing to work on their recovery. Despite this, there are many misconceptions about rehab that prevent people from seeking help.

This page will explore some of the most common misconceptions about rehab in the hopes of bringing some truth to the falsehoods that exist.

If you or someone you love is at a stage where their addiction is so bad that they require drug or alcohol rehab, it can feel both overwhelming and difficult to process. There is still a negative social stigma attached to rehab and the process of attending a recovery facility, with many misconceptions that have been created by inaccurate media portrayal.

Also, because rehab is an experience that very few of us will ever go through, the ‘unknown’ is approached with a sense of trepidation and fear. It is such trepidation that fuels inaccurate portrayals of the rehab process and recovery, which is sometimes a major reason why many people do not reach out and seek help, or feel a sense of shame in being admitted to rehab. Thankfully, in present times there is an increasing awareness of the mindful and holistic techniques that rehab facilities use to successfully treat patients.

Gradually, minds are changing and modern clinics are being seen as positive institutions that aid in successful long-term recovery. Here is a list of common misconceptions about rehab that may surprise you.


Isn’t Rehab Just For The Very Wealthy Or Super-Famous, Not Average People Like Me?

The media is largely responsible for this common misconception. Many celebrities are often portrayed ‘checking in’ to luxurious rehab facilities that appear to only be accessible for those with unlimited funds or high profiles in the celebrity world. This isn’t true – there are many different kinds of rehab out there, alongside those that are deemed ‘luxurious’. Many rehab clinics are more affordable than you might think, considering the average income and budget of non-famous, normal people. Also linked to this is the misguided belief that the more you pay for a rehab facility, the better the care will be. This also isn’t true – there are many affordable rehab clinics out there that make reasonable charges while offering exceptional care and support.


Don’t I Have To Be A Severe Drug Or Alcohol Addict To Be Admitted Into Rehab?

There is a common misconception that a person needs to be a hardcore drug user, or an alcoholic in danger of ending their life through their drinking abuse in order to qualify for rehab. A drug or an alcohol addiction is still an addiction, and all addictions can develop and become more severe over time, to the point where they can completely destroy a person’s life. Even if you are addicted to a perceived ‘softer’ drug such as cannabis, this still requires rehab treatment, as the medical and psychological consequences of drug abuse can be long-lasting, if not permanent.

There is also a common falsehood that being addicted to alcohol isn’t as bad as being addicted to ‘hardcore’ drugs like heroin and cocaine. Alcohol addictions are seen by rehab clinics to be just as severe as drug addictions. The best way to view rehab is to see it as a place of rest and recovery, that is designed to tackle the emotional, physical and psychological aspects of any addiction. It is simply untrue that a rehab clinic will dismiss a patient because their addiction or symptoms are not considered ‘severe’ enough.


Isn’t Rehab Really Expensive?

This is possibly the most common misconception about rehab, and the fundamental reason why many people ‘rule out’ rehab treatment before properly investigating it. Of course, the cost of private rehab can vary depending on which type of clinic you choose to receive treatment from.

Many rehabs are not in the ‘luxurious’ or ‘expensive’ category. While you may get some that cost £5,000 per week, some may charge this for over a month of treatment. While luxurious rehab clinics may give you access to room service, a private chef and a gourmet menu – do you really need these? The most important part of any rehab clinic is the treatment and service offered. With many more affordable rehab clinics, treatment quality will not be compromised as a cost-cutting measure.




Isn’t Rehab Just For Offenders Or The Mentally Ill?

This misconception stems from US culture, in which courts sometimes order criminals to undertake a rehab programme as an alternative to prison. Rehab clinics are not just for people who have broken the law, and it is very rare in the UK for a court to order a rehab programme as part of sentencing. It is also worth bearing in mind that an addiction is a mental illness. The majority of people attending rehab have some form of mental illness such as depression or anxiety as a result of drink or drug abuse. These are noted as mild or moderate mental illnesses. In rehab, you will not be treated alongside those with severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia. Thankfully, rehab clinics are well-equipped to treat mild mental illnesses associated with addiction.


Isn’t Rehab Really Boring Because I’ll Be In Constant Therapy Sessions?

To ensure that your mind stays active and stimulated during your treatment, many rehab clinics will make an effort to learn your interests. If you stay as an in-patient and can play a musical instrument for example, you will be invited to bring it with you, alongside your laptop, tablet and music devices. Many rehab clinics also offer mindfulness therapies such as Hairdressing, Reiki, Massage, Reflexology and Healing Techniques.


Won’t A Rehab Programme Be All About Finding God And Religion?

While some rehabs have a heavy focus on religion, most do not. If a rehab clinic is heavily religious, they should make this clear from the start so you can decide if it is right for you. Many rehabs will focus on a 12 Step method that comes from an Alcoholics Anonymous methodology. Some may also focus on spirituality, but this is more about mindfulness and meditation rather than finding God.


Won’t I Be Sharing A Room With Lots Of Other People?

Some rehabs offer dormitory-style accommodation, but many offer private rooms. There is often a greater expense for a private room, so you may need to review your budget and consider whether a private room is affordable. It is common for most rehab clinics to have dorm rooms that sleep 3-4 people, but staying in this type of room isn’t mandatory.


Won’t The Rehab Force A ‘Cold Turkey’ Approach To Treatment?

This misconception isn’t true at all. When you undertake a detox, it will be medically assisted, and you will be supervised at all time. Medications may be administered to ease withdrawal symptoms, so you feel more comfortable while detoxing. No-one is going to force you to suddenly go cold turkey on drugs or alcohol – to do so would be very dangerous for your health.

Laura Smart - Author - Last updated: May 26, 2023

Laura is a qualified counsellor and behavioural therapist specialising in CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), REBT (Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy), ACT (Acceptance & Commitment Therapy), ICT (Inner Child Therapy), MI (Motivational Interviewing), Hypnosis and Mindfulness practice. She has experience working with individuals suffering from conditions such as problem behaviours, internet and social media addictions, depression, anxiety, anger management and trauma.

Dr Alexander Lapa - Psychiatrist & Clinical Reviewer for Rehab Clinics Group

Dr Alexander Lapa - Clinical Reviewer - Last reviewed: September 20, 2022

MBBS, PG Dip Clin Ed, OA Dip CBT, OA Dip Psychology, SCOPE Certified

Dr Lapa graduated in Medicine in 2000 and since this time has accrued much experience working in the widest range of psychiatric settings with differing illness presentations and backgrounds in inpatient, community and secure settings. This has been aligned to continuation of professional development at postgraduate level in clinical research which has been very closely related to the everyday clinical practice conducted by this practitioner as a NHS and Private Psychiatrist.
He is fully indemnified by the Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland (MDDUS) and MIAB Expert Insurance for Psychiatric and Private Medical practice. He is fully registered with the General Medical Council (GMC) in the UK with a licence to practice.

Dr Lapa is approved under Section 12(2) of the Mental Health Act (1983)

Member of Independent Doctors Federation (IDF), British Association for Psychopharmacology (BMA) and The Association for the Study of Obesity (ASO)

Dr Lapa’s extensive experience has also concentrated on the following areas of clinical practice:
– Assessment, Diagnosis and Pharmacological Treatment for Adults with ADHD.
– Drug and Alcohol Dependency and maintaining abstinence and continued recovery
– Intravenous and Intramuscular Vitamin and Mineral Infusion Therapy
– Dietary and Weight Management and thorough care from assessment to treatment to end goals and maintenance
– Aesthetic Practice and Procedures