Drug rehab in Australia is a great option for many Australians who have hit the pointy end of addiction and need a safe and structured environment to start the recovery process. When it comes to finding the best drug rehab in Australia for you, there is a lot to consider and in this article we want to cover all the different elements so that you can make the right choice to start your recovery journey off on the right foot.

Best drug rehab in Australia: how to choose the best option?

How do you know the best drug rehab in Australia? What is the criteria for determining that one place is better than another? Is it based on their success rates? Their reputation with patients and families? Or their location? Let’s take a closer look at what to consider when looking for an addiction treatment program.  

Drug rehab options: 

It may sound counter-intuitive, however, the first question you have to ask yourself is: what kind of a drug rehab program do I need?

Do I need a medically supervised inpatient rehabilitation centre? Or just a non-medical community-based inpatient program? Or maybe even just a sober living house that provides a supportive environment?   

Maybe you don’t even need a residential program, maybe you only need an outpatient program? There is lots of variety when it comes to outpatient programs. You may need a medically supervised outpatient program, or a non-medical intensive outpatient program, or maybe just a low-intensity outpatient program.

Confusing! We know!

It’s safe to say that there are a lot of options and it’s hard to know which option will be best for you. At Connection Based Living, we advise people to take their time and to do their research.

Unfortunately in the alcohol and drug rehab sector, not all cookies are cut equally and quality can vary.

Keep reading, because throughout this article we are going to highlight the different elements of what makes up quality addiction treatment, and how you can pick the best drug rehab centres in Australia.

Ultimately, it comes down to you and we recommend that you talk with several providers and decide which treatment option feels best for you, based on your situation, beliefs and goals.

Here are a few questions you can ask providers, to help you decide what’s going to make you feel comfortable and work best:

  • How do they measure success?
  • Are they registered providers?
  • What are the qualifications of the staff?
  • Can you meet the staff before booking in?
  • How do they assess which treatment option is right for you?
  • Do they provide detox services as well as addiction counselling, therapy, and support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)?
  • Are they located close to my home? Think about whether you want the centre close to home or not
  • Does this facility offer holistic therapies such as acupuncture, trauma healing etc?
  • How much does the service cost?
  • Are there any additional fees or costs involved?
  • Do they offer any type of drug program that will follow me after I leave the centre?

If you feel like you need some more help with this or you want to discuss your options, feel free to book a chat with us to see how we can help. https://www.connectionbasedliving.com/roadmapsession

Treatment interventions and types of drug and alcohol treatment

Since this article is titled Drug rehab in Australia the ultimate guide, we want to break down the treatment interventions with brief descriptions to equip you with a little more, in navigating what can be a complex system.


Detox is usually a short inpatient stay to help you withdraw from alcohol and drugs. When entering into a detox facility, you will have support staff monitoring you however you shouldn’t expect any high level of psychological intervention as often the focus is on physical withdrawal from substances.

Detox stays usually range from 7-10 days and can be both medical and non-medical based.

Services around Australia often also offer at-home detox to cater for the different needs, situations and circumstances people have in their life. At-home detox services often involve a trained professional like a nurse coming to your house to check in on your progress over a 7-14 day period.

Residential Rehabilitation

Residential Rehabilitation is also known as “resi rehab” which is when you go away to a residential facility for a period of time to work on your addiction.

Treatment philosophies, medical capacity, treatment methods, stay time and settings can vary when it comes to resi rehab, so it is important to consult with a professional when selecting the option best for you.


Pharmacotherapy, known as medicated assisted treatment, is the process of being prescribed medication that acts as a substitute to an individual’s primary drug of concern.

This treatment is most commonly applied in opioid dependence with drugs such as heroin (methadone, buprenorphine etc), however can be applied to other drug dependence also.

These medications must be prescribed by a registered Medical Doctor.

AOD Counselling

Counselling can be a great option for you at any stage of the recovery journey. There are alcohol and drug-specific counsellors that can help you navigate the unique challenges of alcohol and drug dependence. 

Peer Support

Many people that have been successful in recovery, talk about the power of peer support and being supported by someone with lived experience.

Providers are getting better at incorporating peer support workers into their services and many peer support groups exist such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Smart Recovery and many others.

Dual Diagnosis

A dual diagnosis service is a program or facility that helps people experiencing both mental health and alcohol/drug issues.

Dual Diagnosis services are incredibly important, however, they are in very high demand because these services are heavily underfunded.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Drug and Alcohol Services

Cultural appropriateness is incredibly important in achieving positive AOD treatment outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Because of this, separate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander drug and alcohol services are available to ensure First Nations people can access culturally appropriate services.

These services include all the treatment interventions listed above and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can access services available to the rest of the Australian population if they also choose. 

Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) Services

Cultural appropriateness is incredibly important in achieving positive AOD treatment outcomes for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse communities and people.

Because of this, separate CALD drug and alcohol services are available to ensure Culturally and Linguistically Diverse people can access culturally appropriate services.

These services include all the treatment interventions listed above and Culturally and Linguistically Diverse people can access services available to the rest of the Australian population if they also choose. 

How Connection Based Living Fits In

In case you were wondering how Connection Based Living fits in, we are classified as an intensive outpatient program.

However, Connection Based Living is unique, as we have developed an online rehab method of delivery that participants can access anywhere in Australia or around the world.

Our model is based on the understanding that treatment has to be intensive.

However, we also know that it often doesn’t help to be locked away from family and friends, not being able to work and participate in normal life.

All our treatment programs are conducted in live one-on-one face to face sessions, utilizing contemporary evidence-based practice.

Check out our programs to see how our method of recovery and healing works.

Extra Resources

Another resource that can be helpful in understanding the alcohol and drug treatment system is the National Framework for Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Treatment 2019–29

The framework has been an initiative by the Australian Government to help the treatment service system plan strategically. We recommend that you take a look at the framework as it gives another great overview of the treatment system in Australia.

The framework provides:

  • the framework for understanding the Australian treatment service system (section 3)
  • principles for effective treatment (section 4)
  • principles for effective treatment planning, purchasing and resourcing (section 5)
  • principles for effective monitoring, evaluation and research (section 6)
  • partnerships needed for successful alcohol and other drug treatment service system (section 7)

If you feel like you need some more help with this or you want to discuss your options, feel free to book a chat with us to see how we can help. https://www.connectionbasedliving.com/roadmapsession

Drug Rehab in Australia Treatment Options
Drug Rehab in Australia Treatment Options

Evidence-Based Drug Rehab

Although there are various options when it comes to choosing drug rehab in Australia, there is lots of evidence that shows what works best when it comes to delivering best practice alcohol and other drug interventions.

When selecting a drug rehab program we would recommend asking the provider if they utilise these treatment methods.

Before we take you through what the evidence details and suggests, always remember to be evidence-based not evidence limited.

The best drug rehab in Australia should incorporate evidence-based practice, however should also focus on providing service that is innovative and patient-centered.

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT): The Australian Psychological Society undertook a review of psychological interventions for mental health conditions. The review found that CBT has the best evidence for its effectiveness in the treatment of alcohol and drug dependence issues.

Motivational Interviewing (MI): Motivational Interviewing is also another talking therapy that has been shown to have good results in treating alcohol and drug addiction. MI is a non-confrontational method in talking with people to promote motivation to change. Being non-confrontational when talking with clients engaged in drug rehabilitation is essential to achieving positive outcomes as discussed in this Conversation article.

Mindfulness Relapse Prevention: As described in the name, Mindfulness Relapse Prevention promotes people to be conscious in the process of developing relapse prevention plans to assist them in their ongoing recovery. In 2014, Sarah Bowen, PhD; Katie Witkiewitz, PhD; Seema L. Clifasefi, PhD published a fascinating research paper detailing the evidence behind Mindfulness Relapse Prevention.

Measuring success

When talking about the evidence base, this naturally brings people to the question of success rates…

It’s important to have an understanding of what constitutes success when it comes to drug rehab in Australia. So what is success in alcohol and drug treatment?

It’s a great question and actually one that is debated heavily amongst experts because it doesn’t necessarily mean abstinence.

Here are some considerations and common points that often arise when trying to establish success rates:

  • How do we measure a reduction in drug use and how much weight does that hold, when not all AOD services are about reducing alcohol and drug use?
  • Is the improvement in someone’s quality of life more important than actually helping someone reduce or stop their drug use? Said another way, is there any point in helping someone get off alcohol and drugs if their life only gets worse when stopping?
  • Over what period of time should success be measured? And what should that success be exactly measured on?
  • When can a provider attribute a person’s success to their service? Is a person’s success or lack of success two years after completing the program attributed to the alcohol and drug program they attended 2 years prior?
  • Which clinically validated tools are being used to measure these outcomes? Does there have to be unanimous use of particular clinically validated tools across each treatment category to establish equitable success rate results?

When a treatment provider says, for example, “We have an 80% success rate”, it’s critical to ask questions centred around some of these above points.

This will put the power back in your hands as the consumer to be able to drill down and understand exactly what success really means in relation to that particular service.

Connection Based Living is dedicated to leading from the front and is all about putting the proof in the pudding.

If what we are delivering isn’t helping, we want to possess the ability to refine our programs and change things up altogether if they are not working based on evidence and data (we believe this should be the minimum standard, however, unfortunately, it isn’t the case across much of the sector).

At Connection Based Living, based on our philosophy of recovery, quality of life holds the most weight in the formulation of our success rate but we also measure dependence and drug use rates.

As our service is about showing people a simple way to live and not just the delivery of an alcohol and drug program, we measure the success rate of our method over a 12-month period. 

To do this we use a series of clinically validated tools that capture elements such as:

  • Drug use rates
  • Dependency
  • Quality of life
  • Social determinants of health
  • Mental health status

Connection Based Living is so invested in leading from the front, that we are currently engaged in a major study and evaluation by an external research agency to prove the effectiveness of our methods. We can’t wait to share it with the sector.

If you want to know more about our evidence-based program and what Connection Based Living is all about, visit our About page: https://connectionbasedliving.com.au/connection-based-livings-ethos/ 

Drug Rehab Success Rates
Drug Rehab Success Rates

Regulation and accreditation

One of the issues when it comes to drug and alcohol treatment in Australia is there isn’t a lot of regulation and accreditation. Currently, nearly anyone can set up a drug rehab program and it’s safe to say that some interesting characters and organisations exist in the marketplace as a result of this lack of regulation.

It’s quite a complex area however we would recommend that you check a program that ABC’s 4 Corners put together in 2016, detailing some of the dodgy things that happen in the alcohol and drug sector: https://www.abc.net.au/4corners/rehab-inc.-promo/7827128

We also have put together a free report “5 Horrifying Dodgy Practices You Must Know Before You Check Into Rehab”.

Fortunately, things are starting to change a little and there have been some shifts with the government bringing out the National Quality Framework for Alcohol and Drug Treatment Services however there is still a long way to go.

[insert photo here]

Again, when you are engaging with treatment providers, we recommend that you ask tough questions and prevent yourself from being stuck with a dodgy treatment provider.

How much does drug rehab cost in Australia? Private Vs Public

Is private better than public rehab? How much does rehab cost? Do I need private health insurance? Are there any free options? These are all very common questions and very important to think about when investigating in rehab options.

Is drug rehab free in Australia?

The short answer is yes. Most publicly funded programs are free or close to free. Publicly funded alcohol and drug treatment (see above section for types of treatment) are funded mostly by state governments, however, the Australian Commonwealth Government also funds some AOD services.

This is how drug rehab is available around the country for free, which is fantastic, however, there are some negatives when it comes to the publicly funded system – such as long waiting lists, old and dilapidated facilities and complex referral processes etc.

So does this make private drug rehab better quality than public? Not necessarily. Due to lack of regulation, as mentioned above, programs can be ineffective and based on little evidence, Costs can be exorbitant and qualification standards can be poor, again due to lack of regulation.

The truth is there are some positives and negatives with both and we thought that we would detail it all in short bullet point lists:

Public system pros

  • Free or close to free service
  • Regulated
  • Some level of data collection in each service
  • Evidence-based

Public system cons

  • Not enough services (lack of funding)
  • Old infrastructure
  • Complex and confusing service system
  • Long waiting lists

Private system pros

  • Quick service access
  • Access through private health
  • Freedom of choice for consumers

Private system cons

  • Absorbent costs
  • Lack of regulation
  • Lack of data and reporting requirements
  • Can be difficult to access

How much does private drug rehab cost?

There are a lot of different options when it comes to private alcohol and drug treatment with lots of different costs associated with those treatments.

Below we detail a brief breakdown of the cost ranges of treatment against the most common forms of private alcohol and drug rehabilitation.

Before we detail the costs, we want to briefly explain how private health insurance works with alcohol and drug treatment.

Unfortunately, only residential drug rehab is covered by private health insurance and not all residential providers fall under that cover.

In order for residential providers to be covered by private health, they need to be registered as private hospitals and follow the various rules and regulations associated with being a private hospital.

To understand the various private health options in detail, this finder article is a great resource.

Private 28-day inpatient program   

Roughly costs $8000 – $12,000 AUD

Private 90-day inpatient program   

Roughly costs $40,000 – $55,000 AUD

Outpatient Program

Roughly costs $4,000 – $10,000 AUD

Extra luxury programs

$70,000 – $200,000

We hope this gives you an overview indication of how much drug rehab costs. We would encourage you to ask plenty of questions as not all services provide value for money.

Accessing Rehab

The truth is that the alcohol and drug treatment system does no favours to people trying to access help. The system is confusing and challenging to navigate.

It would just add to the confusion to try and write everything out in this article, so instead, we will provide the key access point links so that you can cut straight through the confusion.

Accessing private rehab

Private facilities independently advertise themselves and to access their services is a self-referral process. The best way to find them is a good old google search. Please be wary of google reviews and make sure you ask plenty of questions, as detailed in the above article.

Accessing public drug rehab

In order to access public drug rehab, you often need a referral and there are lots of different rules, which vary from state to state. To make things a little more simple, see the below links for each state in Australia that can help you out with this referral process:

South Australia: https://bit.ly/3iHQ7GA

Western Australia: http://www.wanada.org.au/

Melbourne: https://www.directline.org.au/

Sydney: https://yourroom.health.nsw.gov.au/Pages/home.aspx

Queensland: https://adis.health.qld.gov.au/

Northern Territory: https://bit.ly/3oKmF6w

ACT: https://bit.ly/3iIo8qb

Tasmania: https://www.atdc.org.au/

National Directory: https://adf.org.au/path2help/

We hope that this article was helpful and explained more about drug rehab in Australia.

If you feel like you need some more help with this or you want to discuss your options, feel free to book a chat with us to see how we can help. https://www.connectionbasedliving.com/roadmapsession