Alcohol & Drug Rehabs in Belfast

In 2020, there were approximately 4,200 people in Northern Ireland registered on the substance misuse database requiring support for their drug and/or alcohol dependence.

One-third of these clients reported problematic use of both drugs and alcohol.

Nearly 70% of people who reported taking drugs admitted to using them daily, and 45% of clients who received help for their alcohol abuse confessed to drinking alcohol daily.


Statistics revealed that the 26-39 age category was the most represented group in the findings, making up 40% of the drug only clients and 45% of the drug and alcohol clients.

In 2019 health statistics showed that Northern Ireland had the highest number of alcohol-related deaths it has ever recorded which, staggeringly, was nearly 20% higher than the previous year.

Addiction And The Disease Model

Addiction brain

When working with clients with a substance use disorder (SUD), rehab teams take the view that addiction is caused by a physical disease of the brain rather than due to the personality flaws of individual people.

It is important to view addiction as a physical disease that needs medical treatment, as patients cannot just get better by improving their levels of self-control.

They have developed an addiction because of genetic, biological and psychological processes that are beyond their control and should therefore be treated the same way as any other physical illnesses.

Dual Diagnosis And Addiction


There are many dual diagnosis cases in rehab establishments throughout the UK.

Due to complicated psychiatric processes, it is very difficult to fully separate different mental health conditions from each other, as many of their symptoms overlap.

The common mental health conditions that run alongside addiction include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Schizophrenia

Rehab treatment teams understand the complex relationship between each client’s multiple mental health diagnoses to treat them effectively.

Support groups

All rehab centres take advantage of evidence-based interventions to treat dual-diagnosis patients, which have been shown numerous times in research to be effective at treating mental health conditions.

CBT is one example of a proven, effective psychological intervention and there are also several medications used to treat depressive disorders, which have also been found to significantly reduce symptoms.

Rehabs Focus On Abstinence

stop sign

Addiction is a disease with high relapse potential, so if rehab programme managers adopted a harm reduction approach to treating their clients, they would be unable to fully recover.

This is because they would continuously re-enter the addictive cycle every time they used substances, even if their overall use significantly decreased.

To protect clients from relapsing and keep them psychologically and physically safe, rehab centres strive to guide people to complete abstinence from drug and alcohol use.

The Benefits Of Residential Rehab In Belfast


Engaging with a residential drug and alcohol rehab in Belfast has many benefits, including:

  • It allows people to remove themselves from the usual environment that their substance use occurred in, with the knowledge that all the environmental stimuli that activate their substance use will disappear.
  • Rehab will help clients understand the reasons behind their addictions where it stems from.
  • Clients in rehab will be able to receive emotional support and monitoring around the clock during their stay in rehab. If you experience any difficulties, support is not far away.
  • The first-class rehab services in Belfast use a range of proven approaches to help people achieve abstinence and promote their self-development.
  • Clients can remain at a close distance from their family and friends whilst having treatment.

Privately-Funded Rehab VS NHS-Funded Rehab

Doctor consultation

There are pros and cons to both funding avenues and careful consideration is needed before you decide on the way forward.

It is advisable for potential clients to think about all the sources of finance that they have available to pay for treatment.

Private Clients

Coffee and book

Private funded clients can take advantage of aftercare services, which maintain contact with clients and enables rehab teams to monitor your progress after you have left.

You have the choice of picking where to have residential treatment – you may prefer to be close to family and friends, or you may wish to remove yourself from your usual environment.

Private rehab clients tend to have a more personalised treatment programme than NHS funded patients and have more resources at their disposal, such as extra counselling sessions.

Man rock climbing

Privately funded clients can access holistic treatments which will benefit their mental health and reduce stress, such as art therapy, yoga and recreational activities.

The only real disadvantage to private treatment is the significant cost it will incur, but there do tend to be more successful outcomes for clients who enter residential rehab.

Still, no amount of money guarantees success without clients putting in the hard work.

NHS Funded Treatment

Doctor with clipboard

NHS services are free of charge and are a lifesaver for anyone unable to fund their treatment.

NHS funding guarantees confidentiality to all its clients and uses proven treatments, based on years of research.

Their services are available in most local communities, so are accessible to all people in need of treatment

Drawbacks of NHS funded treatment include:

  • Clients will tend to have fewer 1-1 counselling sessions.
  • It is unlikely you will always see the same therapist for your counselling sessions.
  • The admissions process can be time-consuming, so it will be a while before clients can commence treatment.
  • Regrettably, there are limited funding opportunities for residential rehab, so clients may only be granted funding for outpatient treatment.
  • Having outpatient rehab rather than residential rehab limits chances of successful recovery as clients are not protected from distractions and temptations from their environment.

Residential Rehab Is Not For Everyone

Woman support

Rehab centres in Belfast invest heavily in first-class resources and personnel to deliver their treatment programmes, and clients who enquire about entering their treatment need to be capable of facing up to the rigours of tackling a 28-day programme.

For various reasons, clients that fall into the following categories may not be able to complete treatment:

  • Clients with delirium tremens and Wernicke’s syndrome require extra medical care which rehab centres cannot provide.
  • Individuals who have failed at outpatient</span detox programmes on several occasions.
  • Although the needs of dual diagnosispatients are provided in rehab, this is limited to clients with mild to moderate mental health conditions. Anyone diagnosed with severe mental health conditions will be referred to an alternative service.
  • Anyone with a mental health condition who consumes over 30 units per day will find rehab centres will not be able to meet their needs.
  • Potential clients whose medical history reveals that they have had several suicide attempts in the past would be deemed to be a high-risk category client and would be signposted elsewhere for treatment.
  • Another high-risk client would be someone who is vulnerable to outbursts of violent behaviour, which puts the safety of staff and other clients at risk.

The Alternatives To Attending A Residential Rehab

Recovery Groups

Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous

Attending support groups is seen by many as a crucial component in addiction recovery.

These groups allow all members to benefit from receiving support and validation from their fellow humans that have been through similar challenging experiences.

The whole ethos of the AA approach is that recovery can only happen through the support of others, as recovering from an addiction is difficult to achieve alone.

Support network

All support groups are now well organised and display all the information relevant to their meetings on their website.

There are many meetings run throughout the week by Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and others that people can attend to kickstart their recovery.

Family Group Meetings

Family in field

Similarly, most of these support groups have recognised that family members of those diagnosed with addiction also need emotional support.

They have made provisions for this by setting up meetings (e.g. Al-Anon) in which family members affected by substance use can meet regularly to support each other.

SMART Recovery

Individual therapy

The mission statement of SMART Recovery is to support anyone with an addictive disorder.

To carry this through, its main objectives are first to enhance the personal development of its clients, and secondly improve their psychological armoury so that they can retain strong resilience in the face of challenging events in their lives.

SMART Recovery utilises a cognitive behavioural approach to help clients reduce the impact that their negative thought patterns have on them and their subsequent behaviour.

They tend to focus less on the past experiences of clients, but encourage them to look to the future and to facilitate their personal growth away from substance use.

Outpatient Treatment Via A Local Drug & Alcohol Team In Belfast

Adventure Therapy

Anyone seeking treatment for drug and alcohol addiction in Belfast will find that there are local treatment teams that provide outpatient treatment services for many addictions.

These services are run in conjunction with nearby NHS bodies or local government setups.

Clients will be able to access many effective treatments that they would receive in residential rehab, but they can remain at home whilst receiving treatment.

As well as receiving specialist addiction counselling (including 12 step work), group therapy and relapse prevention techniques, clients with physical dependencies on opioid drugs, alcohol and benzodiazepines can benefit from home detox treatments organised by local drug and alcohol teams.

The Admissions Process In Belfast

Woman with laptop

Before being admitted into treatment, all clients need to be fully assessed to determine the precise nature of the treatment arrangement they will be recommended.

To carry out a thorough assessment of each client, addiction professionals will consult with ASAM recommendations and gather information from each client in 6 specific dimensions to help build their treatment plan.

The ASAM is seen as a legitimate and respected source of knowledge  in the substance misuse area, and their procedures are used by addiction professionals throughout the world.

The 6 dimensions that ASAM devised to help care for people with addictive disorders cover:

  • Their present level of substance use
  • Physical and mental health
  • Relapse risk
  • The desire to engage with treatment
  • Other miscellaneous areas related to family life, employment, legal troubles and housing

The DSM-5 Three Levels Of Severity

Man with pen

To develop an effective treatment plan for clients it is imperative to ascertain how severe their SUD is.

This is achieved by comparing their behaviour with DSM-5’s criteria for an SUD.

A client will be diagnosed as having a severe SUD if his/her behaviour matches 6 of the 11 criteria set by DSM5 guidelines.

Anyone who meets 2 or 3 of the criteria will be categorised as having a mild SUD.

The Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDITs)


The AUDIT questionnaire is a quick frame of reference for people who suspect their drinking behaviour may be a cause of concern.

It acts as a basis for assessing if someone is in danger of becoming alcohol dependent, and can be seen as a foundation for developing the first step in their treatment process.

The AUDIT consists of 10 questions which enquire about the client’s alcohol intake, the consequences of their alcohol consumption and questions measuring the level of their alcohol dependence.


A score of 13 or over would indicate that the client is alcohol dependent and should engage with treatment services as soon as possible.

A score of over 8 on the AUDIT would be flagged as a cause for concern, and the client would likely be referred to substance misuse services.

Professional Interventions

Group Therapy

Professional intervention services tend to work with the families of individuals who are showing symptoms of addictive behaviour.

They play a key role in collaborating with family members to persuade the substance user to admit that they are using substances excessively and to contact treatment services to help them reduce their substance use.

It is very hard for some people to admit that they have a problem and need to seek help, but as close family members are in an advantageous position.

By being close to them they can influence their relative’s behaviour, and with specialist training from intervention services can persuade them into treatment.


The CRAFT approach is one example of an intervention and involves family members adapting their behaviour in response to the substance use of their relative.

They would be trained to react negatively to substance use and positively to sober and abstinent behaviour, which over a period of time would hopefully persuade their loved ones into treatment.

What Is An Alcohol Detox?

Symptoms of addiction

Medical detox is recommended when a person is severely addicted to a substance such as alcohol.

This can be seen when they suffer from strong withdrawal symptoms when they stop consuming alcohol after drinking heavily for a long period.

Man exhausted

Because of the powerful depressive effect that alcohol has on the human brain, anyone attempting sobriety suddenly is in danger of experiencing seizures which can be life-threatening.

To combat this, the medical teams at Belfast rehab centres use a drug called Librium to safeguard against the potential threat of seizures.

The detox treatment process will normally last for 7-10 days, after which the client will then focus on their psychological processes to help them come to overcome the mental side of addiction.

Heroin Addiction Treatment In Belfast


Heroin is a highly addictive drug and possesses a high potential for chronic relapsing.

Heroin addiction is treated very seriously at rehab because, aside from the personal dangers it brings, it also increases the crime rate.

There are established treatment protocols used by Belfast rehab centres to help treat heroin addiction, with the initial focus concentrating on lessening each client’s physical dependence on the drug.


This is carried out by setting up detox treatment for clients in which substitute drugs such as methadone and buprenorphine are used to progressively decrease the amount of heroin present in a client’s bloodstream and nervous system over weeks/months, depending on the severity of their addiction.

Once this has been completed, they can begin their personal programme of psychological therapies which will draw from the findings of their intake assessment.

Cocaine And Cannabis Addiction Treatment In Belfast


Neither cocaine nor cannabis is as damaging to the psychological or physical health of people as an opioid drug like heroin is.

However, neither drug should be underestimated as both can cause significant disruption to people’s lives and their health.


Cocaine provides users with high bursts of energy which can boost their stamina and improve concentration and focus.

Cannabis is a drug that people use to put them in a relaxed, peaceful state, and research indicates that long term use can be detrimental to a person’s cognitive abilities, mental health and anxiety levels.

There are no pharmacological interventions (detox) for cannabis or cocaine, so specialist substance use practitioners will be on hand to support clients if they experience any uncomfortable symptoms during the preliminary stages of withdrawal.

Withdrawal Advice And Emotional Support

Holding hands

It is uncommon for people giving up cannabis and cocaine to suffer from severe withdrawal symptoms, but they may experience uncomfortable symptoms related to insomnia, fatigue, depression, nausea and flu.

These symptoms can be alleviated with the use of conventional medication or symptom management strategies, both of which will be taken care of by the rehab’s medical team.

Once clients feel they are on a steady footing they can openly explore the emotional difficulties in their lives that they feel caused their drug dependence.

They will engage with several different therapies, all of which can help them disentangle the significant factors in their lives under the watchful eye of experienced counsellors.

Psychological Therapies On Offer In Belfast Rehabs


There is a multitude of psychological therapies available for clients to help them uncover the psychological and emotional reasons behind their substance use.

Cognitive And Mindfulness-Based Therapies

Men talking

People’s thoughts play a huge role in affecting their feelings, which in turn will affect their behaviour.

Persistent negative thoughts can cause people a great deal of distress and lead to mental disorders such as depression and addiction.

Cognitive and mindfulness therapies help clients reclaim a healthy, calm and positive mindset.

CBT will help clients recognise and change destructive thought patterns and mindfulness sessions will enable clients to develop a quieter mind and shut out any interfering negative thoughts.

Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) & Acceptance And Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Women talking

DBT and ACT are both from the new wave of modern therapies and use CBT and mindfulness elements in their approach to helping clients deal with difficult emotions and negative thoughts, which are the main contributors to psychological stress.

DBT helps people deal with intense emotional states and teaches them how to accept and regulate these emotions.

ACT therapists attempt to educate clients into accepting the nature of their negative thoughts and feelings and view them from another perspective.

They will also learn to react to them more productively so they do not impact their daily life so significantly.

Brief Interventions


Brief Interventions are less a form of therapy and more of an educational intervention designed to get the client thinking about the consequences of their substance use.

The practitioner will initially present statistics or medical evidence relating to the negative impact of substance use and then proceed to examine the client’s feelings about what they have just heard.

Engaging in a conversation about the physical effects of substance use has been found to elicit a positive behavioural change in clients after brief intervention sessions.

Motivational interviewing (MI)


Clients will receive MI sessions throughout their time in rehab, perhaps daily if not several times a week.

These sessions help the client maintain the motivation to continue with their treatment schedule, which can be very demanding and painful as clients are in the process of going through a powerful psychological change.

The relationship between the therapist and client is key to these sessions and by having regular sessions with the same therapist, the client can feel free to explore their feelings with them.

This is very helpful when the client is going through a challenging time, and the therapist will help the client pinpoint the reason for their resistance and help them overcome it.

Holistic Therapies


All holistic therapies used in rehab centres are based on evidence and theoretical concepts and have contributed hugely to the realm of addiction treatment.

They offer clients the chance to engage with different modern approaches to treating trauma, addiction and mental health.

All the holistic therapists that conduct our sessions have been through intense training and have a great deal of experience in working with clients with a mental health diagnosis


Music, art and drama therapy provide clients with a creative mechanism to allow them to process unconscious, emotional and traumatic experiences from their lives which will enable them to heal.

Equine therapy involves interacting with a horse in a range of 1-1 activities such as grooming while being monitored by an equine therapist.

They will be able to provide feedback to the clients on how the horse responded to their body language at an unconscious level.

Woman on horse

This feedback can help the client develop an awareness of their communication patterns.

Adventure therapy takes place in picturesque environments such as mountains and forests, and enables clients to develop their self-esteem as they learn new competencies such as sailing and orienteering, and develop team working skills and improve the quality of their social relationships.

Group Therapy Sessions

Recovery Groups

Participating in group therapy sessions during rehab is very challenging for most people, but it is a very worthwhile and beneficial exercise.

People begin to understand themselves and the way that they have tended to act in social and group situations.

Clients can make great strides in their progress when they begin to understand their feelings and psychological processes in the group setting.

The group can also develop into a strong form of support for its members who over time will show empathy and positive regard for each other as they help each other overcome addiction.

Individual Alcohol Counselling

Individual therapy

One to one counselling will help clients unravel all the negative experiences in their life that may have culminated in addiction.

It can be extremely cathartic for clients to talk about their feelings and difficult life experiences rather than bottle them up, and talking with a qualified professional will enable clients to make sense of their situation and, help them, with the trusted support of the therapist behind them to move forward.

Family Therapy

Holding Hands

Many people diagnosed with a SUD have been through difficult times in their childhood or grew up with unhealthy dynamics present in their immediate family home, which may have caused them significant developmental harm and a great deal of distress.

If deemed safe to do so by family therapists, it may be beneficial for many members of a client’s family to work with a therapist to help them understand and modify their dysfunctional communication and enabling activities to make them a fully functioning family unit again.

Co-Dependency Treatment

Woman support

There are many skilled therapists working in Belfast rehab centres that have experience treating co-dependent individuals.

The interventions our clients receive will help them overcome their early negative experiences in life and understand the importance of setting boundaries and strengthening their inner beliefs.

This will help them to establish what their own psychological needs are, and how they can get these needs met.

Twelve-Step Therapy (TSF)

All clients seeking to recover from substance misuse will benefit from 12 step work, which has been at the heart of addiction treatment for decades.

The 12 steps stem from one of the key guiding principles of Alcoholic Anonymous and have been modified into a form of therapy for substance addictions.

This is an ongoing, long-term therapy and a great deal of effort and commitment is required by clients as they work through each of the 12 challenges, which will help them understand and move on from their addiction under the guidance of therapists and peers.

Relapse Prevention Plans

Man with pen

By their very nature addictions have a high potential for relapse due to the biological and psychological mechanisms in the human body.

It is more than likely clients will suffer many relapses before finally conquering their addiction for good.

With this in mind, one of rehab centres’ primary aims is to equip clients with the mental abilities to help them stand firm and resist any temptations they may encounter that could tempt them back into taking substances.

Identifying Hazardous Situations

Group with notes

Each individual has their vulnerable scenarios which may trigger their substance use, but by engaging in reflective exercises with their therapist they can establish which specific situations are more likely to test their psychological resolve.

Once these situations have been acknowledged, the treatment team can work with the client to build strategies which they can use when such high-risk situations occur.

For example, they may learn drug refusal skills in situations in which they are faced with strong social pressure to drink or take drugs.

The HALT Approach To Relapse

stop sign

As well as external influences, our internal physiology can affect our emotional state and make us vulnerable to taking substances.

Many researchers have proposed that people take substances to self-soothe when they experience difficult emotions.

According to the HALT model, people in recovery are more prone to relapsing when they are feeling Hungry, Angry, Lonely and Tired.

Encouraging clients to engage in diary writing can help them make sense of their daily experiences and when they are tempted to use drugs.

When these situations are identified, strategies can be put in place to ensure they resist the temptation to use substances.

How is a private rehab different from council-funded rehab in Belfast?


Other organisations to consider

Below are some of the other organisations that offer free support  in the Belfast area:

1. ASCERT Belfast

Address: Callan House, Westcourt Centre, 8-30 Barrack St, Belfast BT12 4AH

Telephone: 0800 254 5123


2. Inspire Addiction Services

Address: 40 Elmwood Ave, Belfast BT9 6AZ

Telephone: 028 9066 4434


3. Carlisle House

Address: 2-4 Henry Pl, Belfast BT15 2BB

Telephone: 028 9032 8308


You can also reach out to a number of helplines, including Mind UKYoungMindsRethink Mental IllnessSamaritans and PapyrusSMART Recovery or find an Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous or Cocaine Anonymous near you.

The NHS are also there to help you with reliable information and guidance.

Getting Help Today

Person with phone

For more information on our fantastic Belfast-based alcohol rehabilitation services please call a member of our team FREE on 0800 111 4108 today.

We also offer our rehab services across a variety of locations across Belfast and the wider UK, including Banbridge, Templepatrick, Newtownabbey, Armoy, Ballygally, Bangor, Craigavon, Antrim, Dunadry and Aldergrove.

All of the rehabs we work with are regulated by the Care Quality Commission (England and Wales) or the Care Inspectorate (Scotland).

Alternatively please reach out through our contact page and a member of our team will respond shortly.

Whatever addiction you are facing, help is always available. 

Featured Drug and Alcohol Rehabs in Alcohol & Drug Rehabs in Belfast

There are various types of rehab centres available in Alcohol & Drug Rehabs in Belfast, including inpatient alcohol rehab, luxury alcohol rehab, and private drug rehabs.

Inpatient Rehab


Medical Detox