The National Treatment Agency (2012) stated that “residential rehabilitation is a vital and potent component of the drug and alcohol treatment system … anyone who needs it should have easy access to rehab”.  There is a strong and consistent evidence base which demonstrates the benefits of rehab (Sheffield Hallam University, 2017).  Rehabs can have residents from up to five generations.  Most other types of residential services such as care homes and inpatient mental health services are segregated by age.

The research questions for this project were:

  1. To what extent do rehabs have upper age thresholds?
  2. Are the needs of older adults different from those of younger adults in rehab?
  3. What are older adults’ experiences of rehab?

Key findings

  • Three out of four residential alcohol treatment facilities (rehabs) in England are excluding older adults on the basis of arbitrary age limits.
  • The majority of rehabs have limited or no disabled access, further limiting access to older adults with disabilities or limited mobility.
  • Some older adults found living alongside younger residents in rehab challenging because of the “generation gap” but others felt that younger residents enriched their experience of rehab.
  • Some older adults feel unsafe in rehab and are bullied, intimidated and subjected to ageist language and attitudes.
  • Rehabs can be ‘age blind’, that is, they treat all residents in a similar way with the result that the needs of older adults are not fully met.

Read the full research on the Alcohol Research UK website.

Read about the Alcohol Concern / Alcohol Research UK merger.