Though it might be hard to believe, Italy did not have a comprehensive, government response to substance abuse in place until 2008. But with the establishment of the Drug Policy Department some nine years ago, things are dramatically different today. People in need of drug and alcohol rehab in Italy have literally hundreds of options to choose from. It is simply a matter of getting with a doctor or referral agency for help in making an appropriate choice.

If you have been thinking of travelling outside the UK for substance abuse treatment, a clinic providing drug rehab in Italy is something to consider. Alcohol and drug addiction is viewed as a medical issue in Italy just as it is here. It is treated accordingly. You would receive high-quality care based in the philosophy of treating every aspect of addiction rather than focusing only on symptoms.

Is Rehab in Italy Provided by the Government?

The answer to the question of whether rehab provided by the Italian government is both ‘yes’ and ‘no’. As of 2014 (the last year for which government statistics are available), Italy was home to more than 1,400 rehab clinics. Of them, 620 were public clinics known as drug addiction service units (SerDs).

SerDs are completely funded by the government and offer primarily outpatient treatment for alcohol and drugs. Like our own NHS system, SerDs are part of Italy’s national health system. If you were to travel to Italy for alcohol rehab, you would access a SerD programme by first seeing a GP who would diagnose your condition and make a referral.

The ‘no’ part of the answer has to do with residential treatment. Just like in the UK, Italy’s national healthcare system leaves residential treatment to the private sector. Rehab can still be funded by the government, but treatment is carried out at privately owned and operated clinics. A more detailed explanation of these clinics is offered in the next section.

What Is Private Alcohol Rehab in Italy Like?

If you were to travel to Italy for alcohol rehab in a residential setting, you would find a treatment modality very similar to what is offered here in the UK. One of the few differences is the fact that residential treatment will be paid for by the government as long as the referral for such treatment is made by a SerD prior to the patient’s enrolment.

Another subtle but important difference is the fact that Italian substance abuse policy refers to residential treatment as social-rehabilitative treatment. In other words, Italy’s addiction recovery community places a great deal of emphasis on the social aspects of alcohol rehab. They believe psychosocial treatments and social intervention are just as important as medical treatment and psychotherapy.

Despite these few differences, the typical alcohol treatment programme would be similar to a programme offered in Britain. You would first go through medically supervised detox at a residential clinic or, in cases where a SerD does not refer you to residential treatment until after detox, a hospital setting.

Once detox is complete, you would enter an extended period of therapy that would include psychotherapy, psychosocial support, and social service intervention.

Psychotherapy for Drug Addiction in Italy

The psychotherapy portion of drug and alcohol rehab (Italian rehab clinics do not differentiate between the two) includes multiple therapies based on need. Psychotherapy is carried out through individual and group counselling, patient exercises, life skills building, and even shared activities that may take residents off site from time to time.

Therapists design psychotherapeutic treatments to address the mental and emotional aspects of addiction. Alcohol abusers and addicts can have some deep-rooted issues that cannot be uncovered and dealt with through detox alone, so psychotherapeutic treatments are necessary.

Psychosocial Rehab in Italy

The psychosocial and social intervention aspects of rehab in Italy are two things that set that country apart. What is important to consider here is that the Italian mindset considers both family and the social environment key players in alcohol recovery. The Italian philosophy stipulates that with strong family support and a conducive social environment, the risk of relapse among recovering alcoholics is comparatively low.

To that end, psychosocial treatments are very much geared toward reintegrating recovering patients into their local communities at multiple levels. Patients learn job skills so they can go to work. They learn social skills so they can properly interact without having to rely on alcohol. They learn family skills that improve interactions with spouses and children.

At the same time, families can receive counselling in preparation for the recovering alcoholic returning home. When families know their role in the recovery process, they can do their part to help prevent future relapse.

As for aftercare, patients travelling abroad to seek treatment in Italy have one of two options. They can continue with counselling and 12-step work after residential treatment is completed, or they can return home and seek out aftercare services here in the UK. It is entirely up to individual preference.

How Is Rehab in Italy Regulated?

As the Italian government has such a vested interest in addiction treatment services, they are heavily involved in licencing and regulation. All coordination of drug-related treatment is implemented at the regional level by local drug departments or drug services controlled by regional governments. Those regional governments establish how treatment is delivered and provide accreditation to private facilities and public treatment centres alike.

Government funding of both public and private treatment is very helpful to patients, as you might expect. Patients can get a referral from their doctors and immediately enrol in treatment without having to worry about the cost. Funding is provided to each region annually based on need.

Those struggling with alcohol in Italy have literally hundreds of options for both public and private care. The most important thing is accessing that care, regardless of how or where it is made available. If you are planning to travel to Italy, please note that the vast majority of public and private treatment clinics are in the northern section of the country. The north is where the country’s largest substance abuse problems are found.

Addiction Helper is a referral service offering free help to those looking for drug and alcohol rehab. If you have any questions about the information in this guide, feel free to contact us through our website or on our 24-hour helpline.