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In Australia, there are a wide variety of drug and alcohol rehabs that offer residential treatment for the person addicted to alcohol or drugs. The meaning of rehab is to provide medical and psychotherapeutic treatment to people who have become dependent on alcohol, street drugs including heroin, cocaine and methamphetamines as well as prescriptions drugs.

Commonwealth and state governments fund some of these facilities, however, the demand far exceeds the beds available. According to a 2016 article in the Age  “Victoria has only about 220 government-funded residential rehabilitation beds, and anyone needing a bed today is likely to be told to come back in four to six months. It is a similar story in New South Wales, where there is more than four times the number of beds and a similarly long waiting list.”

There are a number of not for profits and charities that provide residential rehab treatment and there is also an ever-increasing number of private providers entering this market. Their aim like many rehabs is to help people to improve the way they live their lives by helping them get off or reduce their use of drugs and alcohol.

Many of these rehabs operate on a Therapeutic Community approach. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse a therapeutic community model “focuses on the whole person and overall lifestyle changes, not simply abstinence from drug use. This orientation acknowledges the chronic, relapsing nature of substance use disorders (SUDs) and holds the view that lapses are opportunities for learning. Recovery is seen as a gradual, ongoing process of cognitive change through clinical interventions, and it is expected that it will take time for program participants to advance through the stages of treatment, setting personal objectives along the way.”

The Therapeutic Community is based on each person in the community helping and supporting other clients at the rehab. This is a form of peer support and helping another person in the rehab is seen as an important component of some one’s own recovery.

The vast majority of rehabs in Australasia and South East Asia implement variations of the 12 Step Facilitation Model which is a derivative of Alcoholics Anonymous. AA was foundered in 1935 in Akron Ohio by a stockbroker, Bill Wilson and a doctor, Bob Smith. From its humble beginnings over 80 years ago, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) now has upwards of 115,000 Groups in 175 different countries with an estimated 2 million people attending regular meetings.

The National Institute of Drug Abuse defined the 12 step facilitation model as “an active engagement strategy designed to increase the likelihood of a substance abuser becoming affiliated with and actively involved in 12-step self-help groups, thereby promoting abstinence. Three key ideas predominate: (1) acceptance, which includes the realisation that drug addiction is a chronic, progressive disease over which one has no control, that life has become unmanageable because of drugs, that willpower alone is insufficient to overcome the problem, and that abstinence is the only alternative; (2) surrender, which involves giving oneself over to a higher power, accepting the fellowship and support structure of other recovering addicted individuals, and following the recovery activities laid out by the 12-step program; and (3) active involvement in 12-step meetings and related activities. “