What’s the Difference Between Public and Private Rehab?

If you’re reeling from the effects of addiction, it’s important to know that there’s help available. In fact, there are many different kinds of help to choose from.

Some choose to get plugged into the A.A. program and get sober by attending meetings. For those who have been in their addiction for quite a while, residential care is the chosen route—and rightfully so.

Addiction is a chronic disease and while relapse rates for many programs are famously high, studies show that for those that for those who had 90 days or residential treatment, only 17% reported relapse after a year.

So there is evidence to support making the choice to seek residential rehab. But where? There are so many different types of inpatient treatment available, which one is right for you?


There are many differences among residential rehab programs, some quite substantial and others more subtle. But one of the biggest differentiators among programs is whether the center is public or private.

A public rehab is one that is funded by the government. There are definitely pros to this as public or county run treatment centers are very accessible and often low or no cost.


The importance of these treatment centers that serve those who are addicted and don’t have access to funds to pay for treatment, don’t have access to help from family or others and don’t have insurance to help them pay for treatment cannot be overstated. Without them, our streets would be darker and more dangerous and even more people would suffer from the crippling effects of addiction without the hope of recovery.

County run addiction treatment isn’t for everyone though.


Because publicly funded treatment centers are low cost or no cost, there is usually high demand for services. This means that if you choose this type of rehab, you may have to wait for treatment. Often times, the window of opportunity to get someone help for an addiction is relatively short, so waiting isn’t always in the addict’s best interest.

Public facilities are usually limited in the type of treatment they provide. The program is typically more cookie cutter and generic with little flexibility or customized treatment care.

While private facilities do vary greatly, the guest experience at county run facilities is usually very basic and they are often located in more crowded urban areas. Often these programs don’t provide as much in the way of amenities or room for outdoor recreation, quiet reflection or reconnecting with nature.


In contrast to public rehab, private facilities do charge more for their services as they are not funded through the state. You will pay more for a private rehab experience, but often times, it’s money well spent.

When it comes to factors from cost to program to experience, private rehabs vary greatly, so it’s hard to lump them all together. However, as a whole, there are some key differences.

One of the major differences you will likely notice when it comes to private treatment is the guest experience. Because the guests and their families are the ones paying for the treatment, there is often times more care given to the guest experience.

 This means that meals may be a little more nutritious and enjoyable. Bedrooms and accommodations are often a bit more updates, and the grounds a private facility is located on are often times superior to that of publicly funded treatment.

In addition to a more thoughtful guest experience, private rehab usually provides a more customized and credentialed program. Private one-on-one counseling is an incredibly important part of rehab for substance abuse, and private facilities offer a more thorough clinical experience for their guests.

Private facilities often spend more time updating and making tweaks to their programs and provide a more thorough regimen of educational classes and a broader array of therapies. In addition to traditional therapies, many private facilities offer more holistic options like art therapy or yoga to treat the whole person.

These holistic approaches lead to higher success rates, though to what degree is a topic that’s often debated.

Since we’re talking success rate, it’s often thought that private rehab facilities do set people up for a greater chance at long-term sobriety, but success is defined differently by almost every facility and organization which makes this fact difficult to prove.

Here at Duffy’s, we have a 95% completion rate, which is almost double the national average published by SAMHSA.


Ultimately, the most important thing is that you or the one you love gets help for their addiction, whether it be public or private. There are people out there who want to help you succeed and if you take that first step of reaching out, you’ve already taken the hardest step.