Getting Help for Alcohol Addiction: What Are the Options in the UK?

Alcohol addiction, or alcoholism, is a complex and multifaceted disease. One of its aspects is that alcoholism often presents itself with other mental illnesses as comorbidity.


More specifically, it is estimated that individuals with a diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) engage in treatment for substance use disorders (SUD) at a rate five times higher than the general population. This also includes alcohol addicts.

Alcohol addiction is typically diagnosed by a clinical evaluation. Symptoms of this disease include denial, inability to stop alcohol consumption without feeling sick, behavioural changes, lowered inhibitions, impulsive behaviour, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea. 

We understand the pain families go through due to this destructive disorder. That’s why it’s important for us to help you explore different treatment options for alcohol addiction in the UK, so you can make the best choice for yourself or a loved one and treat their alcoholism.

Residential Treatment

Your first option when treating alcohol addiction in the UK is residential treatment. As the name suggests, residential treatment involves patients undergoing treatment in a residential facility. This is often a home environment in a neighbourhood near other residential houses.

Residential treatment facilities have their own staff, including medical staff. The medical staff may include a doctor and nurses. However, the size of this staff may vary depending on the scope of the programme and funding. Some residential facilities can accommodate only a handful of patients with part-time medical staff, whereas others may be full-fledged facilities closer to in-patient programmes.

If you or a loved one are looking for a cosier treatment option in a more traditional home-like setting, residential treatment may be your best bet.

In-Patient Treatment

The other treatment option for alcohol addiction in the UK is in-patient treatment. In-patient treatment centres are full-fledged treatment facilities. These facilities are closer to traditional hospitals than residential homes, and may even be inside psychiatric or general hospitals.

When all other interventions have failed, you or your loved one seeking treatment may have no other choice than to opt for an in-patient treatment facility. In-patient treatment is an intensive treatment programme that offers round-the-clock, 24-hour treatment and care to patients.

The facility is also usually contained in a secure unit with dedicated security staff. As some patients entering in-patient treatment may be suffering from severe and debilitating mental health issues, securing the premises is paramount to guarantee their own safety.

In-patient treatment is meant for short-term treatment, seeking first to stabilize the condition of those suffering from the worst alcohol addictions and co-morbid mental health issues. Once the patient is stabilized, they may be shifted to a less-intensive care facility to further continue treatment according to the plan of action.

Residential Treatment vs. In-patient Treatment: Pros and Cons

Now that you’re familiar with both residential and in-patient treatment, here is a comparison between the two to help you decide which one to go for:

In-patient Treatment


  • 24/7 intensive care.
  • Patient monitoring for difficult cases.
  • Often part of a hospital; dedicated medical staff available.


  • May not be suited for a long-term basis.
  • A hospital setting may be highly uncomfortable for some patients.
  • Therapeutic recovery services are not available.

Residential Treatment


  • More comfortable, home-like environment.
  • Less intensive and easier to integrate with daily life without full-time admission.
  • May offer other therapeutic services (psychotherapy, cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), art therapy, etc).


  • May not have a full-time medical staff.
  • Not suited for severe cases of alcohol addiction.
  • It does not usually offer 24-hour intensive care.

Although residential and in-patient treatment programmes have their own pros and cons, you may actually prefer residential facilities for seeking treatment. If you or a loved one are an alcohol addict going through detoxification and rehabilitation, it will be much easier to relax and hopefully ease some painful alcohol detoxification and withdrawal symptoms in a more home-like environment,

By contrast, an in-patient treatment facility is more like a secure psych ward. The hospital-like setting may be highly disorienting to some and not facilitate the recovery process. Despite having a full-time medical and security staff, an in-patient facility won’t really offer much better treatment compared to a quality residential programme. The only exception to this rule, of course, is if you’re suffering from a severe case of alcohol addiction and also have a volatile mental health condition such as schizophrenia.


The two major treatment options for alcoholism in the UK are in-patient treatment and residential treatment programmes.

Although both offer unique advantages and disadvantages, a residential treatment programme can often provide a much more comfortable and calming environment that may speed up the recovery and rehabilitation process.

At the end of the day, try and look for a residential treatment programme that’s best suited towards you and your loved ones’ individual needs.

Comments are closed.