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Public and Private Rehab Facilities: What’s the Difference?

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For most, long-term recovery begins with an inpatient rehabilitation program.

Residential treatment programs provide the support, structure and programming necessary to initially acquire sobriety while allowing clients to learn and practice the skills and tools to sustain it.

Rehabilitation programs vary greatly – from treatment methods, to size, to accommodations – but one of the most important differences is whether a facility is privately run or public.

Although each specific public or private facility will also differ greatly, there are three general differences to consider when choosing between the two types. Here’s a look at each:

Considering Your Cost

A key factor when choosing a rehabilitation facility is its cost. Although the cost will depend greatly on the specific facility, available services and length of stay, public facilities are generally cheaper, on average, than private ones.

Some public facilities may be totally funded (free), but most offer payment solutions to reduce costs, including income-based, sliding scale fees and payment installment plans. While most private and public rehabs also accept insurance, many private facilities also offer financing plans.

Availability of Activities

While private facilities are typically more expensive, there are perks associated with the additional cost. In general, private facilities offer more amenities, recreational therapy options and leisure activities. For some, this is important; for others, not so much.

These services range from simple fitness programs to playing golf at world-class courses. Not all private rehabs are ultra-luxurious, resort-like complexes, but they typically do integrate more leisure and recreational activities into their treatment programs.

Treatment Options

Most rehab facilities, both private and public, offer a level of personalized treatment to address each individual’s specific needs.

While fundamental treatment components, such as cognitive behavior therapy and group counseling, are common in both private and public rehab programs, private facilities typically offer additional treatment options to further individualize treatment. These may include brain mapping techniques, holistic therapies and other alternative treatment methods.

Finding the Help You Need

According to the Institute of Drug Abuse, there are over 14,500 rehab facilities in the United States, so finding the right facility to best-address your or a loved one’s unique needs may seem daunting. While private facilities may offer more activities and treatment options than public facilities, more expensive doesn’t necessarily mean more effective.

If you or a loved one is seeking treatment, research credible facility reviews online before making a final decision. Most importantly, however, just make the decision to go.


Learn more about the available addiction treatment programs in your area.

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