Alcohol and Drug Rehab in Australia

Australia is well known for it’s laid-back and friendly atmosphere but there is a dark side to the party culture. Alcohol and drug abuse among the general population has created serious problems with binge drinking and long-term addictions.

While there are a number of rehab facilities in Australia, there are limited options for most residents.

Private facilities can be prohibitively expensive and government-funded treatment is limited and often only available to the most desperate in society.

This can mean that even if someone is ready to quit alcohol or drugs, the resources to help them do so may not be available.

meth in australia
6.3% of Australians over the age of 14 have used "ice"

Australian treatment services are mostly focused on outpatient care meaning patients can find it difficult to escape the triggers of their immediate environment. Insurance funded treatment is often within a highly clinical psychiatric setting where patients are mixed with those suffering from mental illnesses. Rural and regional areas typically have even fewer options for effective addiction treatment.

Government Assistance Programs

Free government-funded treatment programs can have long waiting lists. Patients within the system are also more likely to be unmotivated due to court-ordered admissions.

This is particularly the case in major cities like Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. Government funded drug rehab programs can have 6 month waiting lists and provide a minimal standard of care due to limited resources and personnel.

“Ice addiction has really hit Australia’s youth. It is a big problem that won’t go away any time soon unless the government does something radical!” – Troy Morgan

Ice (meth) is the most commonly abused substance in Australia. Treatment is mostly centered around a psychiatric pharmaceutical approach and successful treatment outcomes are unlikely in most cases.

A common complaint of the government system is the medicalization of treatment that leaves patients feeling powerless and at the mercy of clinical staff.

Private Addiction Treatment Centers in Australia

Recovery from addiction is most likely to happen when determination is combined with the right resources. There isn’t one path that is going to work for every person so caution is advised when any addiction treatment facility advocates a one-size-fits-all approach.

One of the first things you are going to want to consider when choosing a rehab is if it can provide the resources you need. Individualized care is important.

A good addiction rehabilitation center should be able to create a treatment plan that is appropriate for someone’s unique needs and circumstances.

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Patients are likely to be staying at an inpatient facility for a number of weeks so it is also essential that you feel comfortable in any chosen treatment setting.

Evaluating Your Options

There are a number of private rehab clinics in Australia that may be suitable for those trying to break free from alcohol/substance abuse. These include:

Where to go for help

Counselling Online offers free 24-hour alcohol and drug counseling. Call or text 1800 888 236.

Family Drug Support Online offer 24-hour support to friends and families of drug/alcohol users. Call 1300 368 186.

If you need help with alcohol addiction, you can call Alcoholics Anonymous Australia on 1300 222 222.

Search for a drug and alcohol services through the Health Direct services directory, or the Australian Drug Information Network (ADIN) website.


More information

Lifeline and DrugInfo have some useful information on drugs and alcohol.

ReachOut and headspace have useful resources on drugs and alcohol for young people.

DrinkWise Australia is an independent, not-for-profit organisation that promotes a healthier and safer drinking culture in Australia.

Cost of rehab in Australia

Costs vary. Private treatment programs range from AU$6,000 for 1month at a basic facility to AU$50,000+ for luxury inpatient programs. Some government-funded community-based and residential rehabilitation centers ask for a co-payment. Some treatments are free. You can talk to your doctor about Medicare rebates as some private health insurance companies may assist.

“You need a big bank balance to stay in luxury rehabs in Australia, that’s why people are prepared to travel overseas for cheaper alternatives .” – Sammy Rogers

Australia’s most luxurious rehab clinic

The Sanctuary, which calls itself a “luxury rehabilitation centre and therapeutic retreat”, offers treatment for AU$135,000 for four weeks. By comparison, California’s Betty Ford Center, which has welcomed the likes of Elizabeth Taylor and Robert Downey Jr, is US$32,000 a month.

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The Sanctuary has treated European royalty, American record producers and corporate chiefs from Asia, Australia and New Zealand. It claims a success rate of 89.6%, according to owner Michael Goldberg, and success occurs, he says “when people overcome their harmful addictions, depression or anxiety.”

*The Sanctuary’s success rate has not been independently or scientifically verified.