Drug & Alcohol Rehabs in South Africa

Rehabs in South Africa


Rehab 4 Alcoholism is able to match you to multiple drug and alcohol rehab clinics in South Africa. We offer a free and comprehensive assessment to ensure your needs are best met throughout the process.

Drug & Alcohol Rehab in South Africa

At Rehab 4 Alcoholism, we are able to help you find a range of drug and alcohol rehab clinics in South Africa.

We have the experience you need when it comes to finding the right rehab facility for you, helping you beat addiction and successfully recover. 

Addiction, now referred to as substance use disorders, is now a public health concern all over the world. In 2011, The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) stated that over 250 million people (aged 15-64) had used illegal drugs in 2010. [1]

The South African Medical Research Council published their findings on substance abuse in South Africa, stating that: [2] [3] [4] [5]

  • Alcohol is the most commonly used and abused substance
  • Despite the low number of drinkers reported, those that do drink, drink at extremely harmful levels
  • The use of cannabis is most popular substance amongst younger generations
  • Data has seen a rise in cannabis use and methcathinone use
  • The most commonly injected drug is heroin
  • In Gauteng, heroin is mixed with cannabis and named ‘nyaope’
  • Almost 70% of heroin users in South Africa are injecting daily.

Opioid use is on the rise in Africa, where the region also struggles with the burden of HIV and a shortage of health workers.

However, we are staffed and equipped with the people and tools that can help anyone overcome addiction in a non-judgemental and compassionate way. [6] [7]

Simply call 0800 111 4108 for further information.

Understanding Substance Use Disorders

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Before we dive into the rehab available to you in South Africa, it is important to discuss addiction from the very start. 

Educating yourself on addiction will help you better understand your own conditions, and therefore gain mental clarity about what you expect and require from the recovery process. 

Substance use disorders, called SUDs, are complex but treatable brain disorders. A substance use disorder changes the brains reward pathways and the persons behaviour. 

This is characterised by the inability to control substance intake, leading to severe addiction if left untreated. [8]

This problematic pattern of consumption always presents with harmful and negative consequences, also impairing social functions and health as a result. [9]

The signs and symptoms of addiction differ according to the substance and severity of disorder, but addiction will frequently present with the following symptoms: [10]

  • Mood swings and inability to regulate emotions
  • Poor judgement and decision making ability
  • Ignoring negative side-effects
  • Poor mental health (most commonly anxiety and depression)
  • Defensive and agitated
  • Secrecy and dishonesty
  • Low self esteem
  • Lack of concern for hygiene
  • Constant health issues (mostly lungs, liver, and heart)
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Lack of responsibility
  • Disrupted sleep
  • Spending most of the time seeking, consuming, or recovering from the substance(s)
  • Withdrawals if substance reduced or cut out

Withdrawal symptoms are a key sign that you have become both mentally and physically dependent on a substance.

This happens because the brain and body have become accustomed to the usual amount of substance in the system and is trying to regulate itself without the substance or with less of it. [11] [12]

Substance use disorders can happen to anyone, at any time. However, research has shown that you are more likely to develop an SUD when:

  1. You have family suffering from addiction (genetics)
  2. Using substances at an early age (the brain is still developing)
  3. You experienced trauma
  4. You are under extreme stress
  5. You suffer from mental illness

The Start of Addiction Recovery in South Africa

A woman smiling at another, holding a smart device

It can be difficult to pinpoint the exact moment that the substance use becomes a problem. There is no ‘safe’ level of substance use, nor a defining line between dangerous use and addiction.

However, if you are on this page, it is likely that you need help with substance use in South Africa. The easiest way to start your recovery journey is to honestly answer a range of substance use questions, such as the CAGE questionnaire.

The CAGE questionnaire screens for addictive behaviour and thought processes, so you are asked to answer the following questions: [13]

  1. Have you ever felt you ought to cut down on your drinking or drug use?
  2. Have people annoyed you by criticizing your drinking or drug use?
  3. Have you felt bad or guilty about your drinking or drug use?
  4. Have you ever had a drink or used drugs first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or to get rid of a hangover (eye-opener)?

These types of questions screen you for possible addictive behaviours, and the emotions and thoughts attached to SUDs. More than 1 YES answer requires help, so answer these questions honestly, and then we can start putting together your recovery programme for you in South Africa.

Denial actively prevents people in South Africa from receiving help, so addiction intervention is a useful motivational tool. Intervention is used to help people get the treatment they desperately need, but the type of intervention used will depend on the severity and type of addiction.

For example, mild addiction may only require a simple and brief intervention. This usually consists of a 1-to-1 conversation with a loved one or specialist. 

Severe addictions in South Africa will require planned intervention with professionals, as they may have tried but been unsuccessful in rehab before.

If the intervention in South Africa is successful, then you or a loved one will start the admissions process for inpatient or outpatient rehab. 

There are different admissions processes depending on the place, type, and needs of the patient in questions. The admissions process will look at: [14]

  • Severity of withdrawal symptoms and addiction
  • Whether co-occurring health conditions require medical attention or therapy
  • Whether the patient is emotionally stable
  • Whether the patient has motivation to start and continue treatment
  • Whether the patient is at risk of relapse
  • Whether the patient is supported by family and friends

Factors like these and any extra requirements will be assessed by professionals. They will then recommend a certain type of rehab that will meet your needs in South Africa, giving you the best chance of a successful recovery.

Simply call 0800 111 4108 for further information.

Inpatient vs. Outpatient Rehab


There are two main types of addiction rehabilitation in South Africa, inpatient and outpatient. Whilst they have similar success rates, both types of facilities offer different benefits. This is why it is important to be thorough and honest when completing the initial assessments. [15]

Inpatient facilities in South Africa are residential. Patients are asked to move into the centre temporarily, in order to receive round-the-clock care. This is best for those suffering from severe addiction, as they need intensive treatment and monitoring of life-threatening withdrawal symptoms.

This treatment is classed as ‘private’ rehabilitation as it is not usually offered through healthcare programmes and insurance, so patients will have to pay the clinic themselves. Despite the higher costs, patients receive state-of-the-art care and treatment, along with covered medication and added facilities.

Patients suffering from mild addiction will not need this level of care, but they are entitled to it if they believe it will help them. Mild or new addictions are best placed in outpatient care, where inpatients are also transferred after a certain period of time.

Outpatient treatment in South Africa is not residential, and patients are only required to attend the facility to receive and take their medication and to attend therapy sessions. This is not as intense as inpatient treatment, so a person suffering from severe addiction should start in inpatient and work their way to outpatient treatment.

Substance Use Disorder Therapy


What happens during rehab?

All types of addiction will require detoxification if the person is both mentally and physically dependent on the substance. Both inpatient and outpatient rehab will cover this at the start, with detoxification programmes to suit all patients and help them stabilise.

The time spent at rehab may vary. For more severe addiction, longer periods of treatment are advised as the patient will be at risk of relapse without making progress or reaching recovery goals if they enter for a short period of time. 

Most rehab clinics will advise that you receive treatment for at least a month (28-day programmes). This is to make sure that you complete the detoxification process, complete therapy, and start the aftercare sessions at the clinic.

Each clinic in South Africa will slightly differ in its approach to recovery, but the long-term goals and achievements remain the same.

All therapy provided by rehab in South Africa covers:

  • Addiction education
  • Relationships and social support
  • Relapse prevention care and planning
  • Co-occurring health conditions
  • Medically assisted detox

During and after detox (if applicable), therapy may start. Addiction therapy and counselling is psychological, and there is no timeline for when it ‘should finish’. 

The more time a patient invests in therapy, the more likely it will be that the patient is successful in rehab. There is a minimum time limit to therapy, however, as one week of therapy is very rarely effective.

Simply call 0800 111 4108 for further information.

Types of Therapy for Addiction at Rehabs in South Africa

There are many types of therapy offered during rehab in South Africa. Depending on the patient’s needs, some programmes will be more effective than others.

Below are just a few of the many types of therapy on offer to you or a loved one in South Africa here at Rehab 4 Alcoholism: [16]

1. Behavioural therapy [17]

The most common type of behavioural therapy is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). This is founded on the idea that psychological disorders such as addiction are, in part, a result of negative learnt behaviours from harmful thoughts and emotions. 

CBT then helps patients recognise these thoughts and re-evaluate them, helping them to deal with problems and situations to gain self-efficiency and better understand themselves.

2. Contingency Management and Motivational Interviewing [18]

Motivational interviewing occurs when professionals aim to seek the origins of the patients’ anxieties concerning treatment and rehab. Contingency management is then used as a therapy to positively reward any changes made by the patient. 

This works but using incentives to maintain motivation for therapy, positively rewarding sobriety, clean tests, and improved relationships.

3. Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT) [19]

REBT is a therapy that parallels the roots of cognitive behavioural therapy. REBT works to identify the thought patterns, beliefs, and emotions that contribute to addictive and self-harming behaviours. 

REBT seeks to identify faulty belief systems and irrational thought processes, helping patients monitor themselves and adopt healthier and realistic habits and expectations.

4. Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR)

EDMR, along with REBT, was originally designed to treat patients suffering from severe trauma (PTSD). Trauma and addiction are closely connected, as patients often use substances to sooth and cope with symptoms or emotions. 

EDMR works to reduce the symptoms of trauma, improving the patient’s self-esteem by associating memories and events with positive belief systems.

5. The Matrix Model

The matrix model uses a combination of CBT and family therapy to help the patient focus on positive changes of treatment. 

For example, this might be positive behavioural changes, active participation in groups, or relapse management. The model encourages honesty and hard work, along with positive reinforcement and a structure for recovery

6. Family Therapy and Group Therapy [20] [21]

Addiction not only affects the individual, but also those around them. Family therapy, couples therapy, and group therapy work to address the substance abuse issues, along with co-occurring relationship issues. 

Social support is often required to improve added issues of addiction, such as stress, communication, mental health, and the enabling of behaviours.

A common group therapy offered in addiction rehab is Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). This 12-step facilitation therapy is an anonymous and socially supported group to aid feelings of acceptance, shame, and isolation. 

Group involvement and participation offers patients the opportunity to develop relationships and share the ups and downs of rehab in a neutral environment.

For example, the following are the 12 core principles of AA:

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

All of these therapy sessions on offer will be run by medical professionals and addiction specialists. The treatment services in South Africa can treat drug abuse, alcohol abuse, and other co-occurring disorders in their addiction recovery centres. 

The disease of addiction is complex, but our treatment options offer a better chance at life at an affordable price. Inpatient treatment consists of comfortable accommodation and the chance at a daily routine that helps you recover from addiction. 

This is suitable for severe and active addiction, with access to addiction care specialists, addiction counsellors, community health workers, and other health professionals. Outpatient services also offers access to health care, helping patients live a happier life and reach their recovery goals. 

Frequently Asked Questions

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Below, we list a number of other resources that you may find useful in your search for quality and suitable rehab treatment in the UK:

Contact Us Today

Simply call 0800 111 4108 for further information.


[1] https://www.walshmedicalmedia.com/open-access/the-burden-of-disease-substance-abuse-in-south-africa-jop-14-365.pdf

[2] Parry, CHD. (2000). Alcohol Problems in Developing Countries: Challenges for the New Millennium. Presented at the Symposium: “Medicine Meets Millennium“.

[3] Plüddeman, A., Parry, CDH., et al. (2008). Heroin users in Cape Town, South Africa: Injecting practices. HIV- related risk behaviors and other health consequences. Journal of Psychoactive drugs, Vol 30 (3): 273-76.

[4] https://www.emcdda.europa.eu/attachements.cfm/att_230539_EN_08.%20S.%252%200Dada%20-%20Injection%20Trends%20in%20South%20Africa.pdf

[5] Dos Santos,M., Rataemane, ST. et al (2010). An approach to heroin use disorder intervention within the South African context: a content analysis study. Journal of Substance abuse treatment, prevention, and policy. Vol 5: 13

[6] Tlali M, Scheibe A, Ruffieux Y, Cornell M, Wettstein AE, Egger M, Davies MA, Maartens G, Johnson LF, Haas AD. Diagnosis and treatment of opioid-related disorders in a South African private sector medical insurance scheme: A cohort study. Int J Drug Policy. 2022 Nov;109:103853. doi: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2022.103853. Epub 2022 Oct 3. PMID: 36202041; PMCID: PMC9884995.

[7] Kiburi SK, Mwangi J, Maina G. Exploring the experiences of clients receiving opioid use disorder treatment at a methadone clinic in Kenya: a qualitative study. Addict Sci Clin Pract. 2022 Dec 12;17(1):71. doi: 10.1186/s13722-022-00352-z. PMID: 36510246; PMCID: PMC9742652.

[8] https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/substance-use-and-mental-health

[9] https://www.cdc.gov/dotw/substance-use-disorders/index.html

[10] NIDA. 2022, September 27. Part 1: The Connection Between Substance Use Disorders and Mental Illness. Retrieved from https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/common-comorbidities-substance-use-disorders/part-1-connection-between-substance-use-disorders-mental-illness on 2023, March 9

[11] https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/understanding-drug-use-addiction

[12] https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2015/10/biology-addiction


[14] https://www.asam.org/asam-criteria/about-the-asam-criteria

[15] https://www.sgu.edu/blog/medical/inpatient-versus-outpatient/

[16] www.rehab4alcoholism.com

[17] https://www.apa.org/ptsd-guideline/patients-and-families/cognitive-behavioral

[18] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3083448/

[19] https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapy-types/rational-emotive-behavior-therapy

[20] https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/evidence-based-approaches-to-drug-addiction-treatment/behavioral-5

[21] https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/evidence-based-approaches-to-drug-addiction-treatment/behavioral-4

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