How Much Does Rehab Cost?
The Rehab Dilemma in Australia

The road to recovery can be challenging, and one of the biggest concerns is often the financial burden associated with seeking professional help. In this article, we will delve into the rehab dilemma in Australia, shedding light on the various factors that can influence the cost of rehabilitation programmes.

From public to private facilities, treatment options, and funding options available, we will explore the different avenues individuals can pursue to access the support they need. Whether you are considering inpatient or outpatient treatment, it is crucial to understand the financial implications and potential assistance that may be available.

Join us as we navigate the maze of rehab costs in Australia, empowering you to make informed decisions and find the right path to recovery for you or your loved ones.

Government-funded rehab options

Each year about 200,000 people receive treatment for drug and alcohol addiction in Australia but the reality is that an estimated 500,000 people are in need of rehab. Why are there 300,000 people living without support for drug addiction each year?¹ Because the Australian public health system is unable to cope with the demand and waiting lists can be up to six months in some parts of the country. The public system is so stretched that addicts with ‘less serious’ addictions are being sent away.

When it comes to government-funded rehab, there are two options: in-patient (otherwise know as residential) and out-patient.

Types of treatment programmes and costs

When it comes to government-funded rehab, there are two options: in-patient (otherwise know as residential) and out-patient. Most of Australia’s public residential rehab centres require addicts to stay for between 9-12 months. They provide ‘community style’ living where residents are expected to actively participate in scheduled activities such as daily work functions, meetings, meals and group therapy. 

If you can get a place in a state-funded programme, your treatment will consist of different types of services such as psychotherapy, inpatient rehabilitation, and pharmacotherapy maintenance. This may be delivered in a range of settings including AOD services, general health services, as well as telephone and online support services.² Detoxification and withdrawal programmes are often not part of these inpatient programmes but residents are expected to gain access to detox services prior to arriving.

On the other hand, there are a range of treatments you can access as a public out-patient in Australia to help you deal with your addiction such as one-on-one addiction counselling, family programmes which allow all family members to benefit from therapy, complimentary therapy session such as group therapy as well as psychiatric support. As an out-patient, you will receive this treatment on-site at a professional rehab or medical centre, but then be expected to leave the premises following your treatment. Accommodation, meals and 24/7 support is not part of the deal.

Is government-funded rehab free?

If you want to seek treatment as an in-patient in a public facility you are usually expected to contribute to your living costs – around $AU 200-300 per week which is often taken out of your Centrelink benefits.² Some treatments will be free as part of this arrangement but often in-patients will be expected to pay fees for additional counselling and therapy sessions.

The pros

The positive side of public rehab in Australia is that once you’re in, you are able to stay for a considerable amount of time and get the support you need including education and parental support. Professional training is often provided to help improve career possibilities. In terms of having access to highly qualified counsellors and support staff – the Australian public system has an outstanding reputation.

The Cons

No matter how solid the healthcare system is in Australia, when it comes to public rehab programmes the one big factor that people need to consider is the wait time to get admitted.

If we take a look at one of the largest centres in Sydney – Odyssey House – it only has the capacity for 100 residents and those residents will stay for at least 9 months. You can see why waiting lists are so long.

In Queensland, The Salvation Army’s Moonyah Recovery Centre admits that it can not keep up with the demand particularly in relation to ice addicts who are wanting to beat their addiction. The majority of patients at Moonyah are now ice addicts, which is a sharp increase from 25 per cent of patients who were treated for that addiction back in 2012. Due to the rising demand, addicts are facing wait times of up to several months which is too long when their lives are in crisis.³

For drug users in Victoria, the situation is even more dire, with only around 350 rehab beds receiving government funding within the public health system per year when it comes to drug addiction.4

The biggest con with residential rehab in the Australian public health system is that it can come too late for many drug users and alcoholics who, exhausted by waiting up to six months for help, end up losing interest in rehab or giving up and going back to regular drug use.

Is rehab in Australia covered by medicare?

Similar to being an in-patient, basic out-patient services are covered by Medicare and government benefits for those who are deemed high risk and in need. Usually, to access these free services, you will require a referral from a qualified GP who will then fill out the paperwork to help you access free therapy. If you think you’d benefit from additional therapy such as hypnotherapy or meditation – this is a cost that is not covered by the government.

The pros

The standard of public healthcare in Australia is higher than many other western countries which means that if you are accepted into an out-patient drug rehabilitation programme you are guaranteed to get treatment and therapy that will be of benefit to you – from skilled and qualified professionals. Out-patient therapy is also ideal for those with small children who want to be able to spend time with them rather than live away.

The cons

In terms of long-term recovery from addiction, research suggests that in-patient treatment may be more effective as it offers a more intense and well-rounded approach to treating addiction. As an out-patient, you are spending most of your time living your ‘normal life’ and that’s the life where your drug habit began – so there’s a lot more temptation. There’s also the chance you’ll be influenced by fellow addicts.

Take the First Step Towards Recovery

The cost of private rehab in Australia

Due to the unprecedented demand for rehab services in Australia, it should come as no surprise that there has been a boom in the private rehab industry with many new, top-end, facilities opening in recent years.

There are two main sectors within the private rehab industry in Australia: private hospitals which offer drug rehab as part of their range of services; and treatment clinics that do not fall under any regulatory body in terms of standards and practices. For example, a group of ‘therapists’ with no formal training can offer drug rehab services in their private wellness centre.

Most private facilities will recommend patients to stay on-site for at least a month. The average stay at a private rehab is three months.Private residential rehabilitation can cost from $7,000 to $30,000 per month. For those seeking treatment as an in-patient in a private hospital, the cost is around $800 a day.

With private rehab being an unregulated industry in Australia, the standards can vary dramatically from five-star accommodation at luxury resorts by the sea where you have a private room with your own spa bath and access to fine dining, massage and one-on-one sessions with a range of holistic health practitioners – to two-star accommodation with shared rooms, average food, and treatments by unqualified practitioners.

The pros

If you can afford up to $30,000 a month, there are some award-winning private facilities in Australia with a good track record for helping people recover from addiction. There are also many highly gifted professionals who work in the private sector and who are trained and qualified to the same standard as those working in the public sector.

The cons

Many addicts who want to avoid waiting up to six months for treatment through the public system are falling victim to shonky private rehab operators who take a chunk of money from them and don’t offer the services or support that they promise to provide. Just because you pay a big sum of money for rehab, doesn’t mean it will be any better than public rehab and – in many cases – it will be below standard due to the private industry being unregulated. People can claim to be ‘drug rehab specialists’ and open a treatment centre without any formal qualifications. The result: addicts who spend a lot of money and are not better for it.

Outpatient counselling

As with in-patient services, private outpatient services can vary across Australia. In general, private facilities can offer counselling, group therapy, family support, and specialised therapies such as meditation and mindfulness. You could receive these treatments in a private home, private hospital, or wellbeing centre.

How much does private counselling cost?

Private counselling and therapy sessions usually cost between $AUD150 – 250 per session. Counselling with some health professionals, such as registered psychologists, can be recoverable through private health insurance or Medicare but it depends on several factors. If you’re wanting regular counselling in a private setting you are likely to be spending at least $AUD1200 a month and that’s just on therapy. 

Appointments with dieticians, hypnotherapists, personal trainers and other people who can help you get your life back on track are going to cost you at least $AUD120 per session.

The pros

You can access amazing one-on-one care in Australia if you are willing to pay for it. As an out-patient, you have the flexibility of choosing when you want to take part in sessions and scheduling them around your work and family commitments. You can also choose to work with therapists who have a great reputation and get their undivided attention due to the price you are paying for their services.

The cons

Many private facilities that offer outpatient services charge a huge amount of money and don’t necessarily offer the support needed to pull a person out of addiction for the long-term. The unregulated nature of this industry means that a private facility offering drug counselling might not be of the same professional standard as one that is regulated within the public system.

Affordable rehab options outside of Australia

Many families of addicts would do anything to get help for the people they love. Unfortunately in a country like Australia, where waiting lists for public rehab are so long, this means that families are spending huge amounts of money – often taking loans or borrowing from friends – to put their loved ones through private rehab. This doesn’t always results in long-term recovery and often leaves the addict in debt.

Bali has a world-class reputation for offering holistic rehab care at a price that’s sometimes half of what you’d pay in countries like Australia. If you would like to know more about rehab options outside of Australia, feel free to book in a free consultation with one of our team members. Or explore for yourself which rehab in Bali or mental health retreat programme might be right for you.


Joshua Rosenthal
  1. Ritter A, Berends L, Chalmers J, Hull P, Lancaster K, Gomez M. New Horizons: The Review of Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services in Australia. Drug Policy Modelling Program National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre UNSW; 2014.
  3. Lee N. Drug rehab: what works and what to keep in mind when choosing a private treatment provider. The Conversation. Published May 1, 2018. Accessed November 12, 2022.
  4. No room: Increasing ice use forces Salvos to turn away addicts. ABC News. Published September 18, 2017. Accessed August 2, 2023.
  5. James Hancock, Ben Knight. Private drug rehab providers in Victoria call for regulation to protect patients from “exploitation.” ABC News. Published September 20, 2017. Accessed August 2, 2023.


Joshua Rosenthal
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