Spice Treatment and Rehab

Fewer drugs in the world have achieved the notoriety that Spice has unleashed within such a short period. The synthetic substance emerged four years ago, but continues to cost the government millions of pounds in emergency treatment, whilst destroying families. In 2017, images of Spice addicts slumped at Wrexham’s bus station went viral online. The highly addictive substance turns users into ‘zombies’, leads to injury and even death.

A former heroin addict revealed that a 7kg bag of Spice cost £25 and lasts for a day. He steals, borrows, begs and is willing to do anything to sustain the associated ‘high’. When Spice was introduced to the UK market, it was advertised as a ‘legal high’ that mimicked the effect of cannabis. Also known as ‘Mamba’, the substance is a synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonist that affects your body and brain. It is made from man-made chemicals, mixed with amphetamines and other compounds that vary across batches.

Prior to its ban in 2016, Spice was sold as an over the counter substance or online at drug forums via brand names, GoCaine and Annihilation. Police have been stretched to the limit for months as they respond to dozens of calls daily. Subsequently, UK residents have called for more action to be taken by government authorities and better addiction treatment provided for addicts slumped against walls and writhing in agony during rush hour.

Scenes in Manchester and other UK cities where Spice use is common are likened to walking zombies. Manchester’s crime commissioner stated that it is harder for police to track or stop the spread of Spice use because it’s not shop owners who are involved in sales, but underground criminal networks distributing the drug. According to Professor Nut, a Neuropsychopharmacology expert, the situation was predictable and could have been nipped in the bud before it became widespread.

Spice Treatment and Rehab

Former addict Matthew Nuttall shared his experience about the horrific effect Spice has on those that abuse it. His first ‘high’ lasted an hour. During this experience, he felt brain-dead and unable to communicate. When he tried to quit, the severity of withdrawal symptoms drove him back to abusing Spice.

Spice was declared unfit for human consumption by John Huffman, who created it in 2006 as an anti-inflammatory medication. The internet has made access to Spice very easy, as recreational users who don’t fully understand the effects on the human body and mind take it as a cheaper substitute for marijuana. An addiction expert stated that Spice addiction destroys families and communities, as well as causing unemployment and relationship breakups.

If you’re addicted to Spice, contact an addiction helpline, where there are drug counsellors who work 24/7 to provide support. Rehab centres will help you detox safely from Spice, understand your addiction and learn to function without abusing the substance.

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Spice Addiction Treatment: What is it?

The growing problem with legal highs led to the introduction of the Psychoactive Substances Act in 2016. This legislation banned sales of legal highs and instituted a seven-year prison sentence for drug peddlers caught in the act. However, Spice sales in the UK continue to thrive. Studies show that roughly 90% of homeless people in Manchester are Spice users and the situation will only worsen if the government doesn’t take action.

Spice was initially marketed as a cannabis substitute, but research has shown that it has no medical benefits. Recreational users experience feelings of euphoria immediately after they take the drug. Other symptoms include agitation, confusion, vomiting and hallucinations.

Treatment for Spice addiction should only be undertaken by specialists such as doctors, nurses and psychotherapists who are equipped to treat addiction. They will devise a personalised treatment plan that includes pharmacology, detoxification and behavioural therapies to help you withdraw safely from Spice. You will also come to understand your addiction, identify triggers and learn to function without Spice.

Treatment options include detoxification, inpatient rehab programmes, outpatient programmes, 12-step programmes, sober living support, peer counselling, maintenance medication and aftercare.

Treatment for Spice Addiction is a Necessity

The deadly misconception that legal highs are not dangerous has led to a high number of fatalities caused by Spice and other designer drugs. This drug contains traces of Spice alongside other substances like basil, oregano and plant materials coated with chemicals. Synthetic cannabis is even more dangerous and life-threatening than natural cannabis. They bind a thousand times stronger to brain receptors than other substances.

The long-term effects of Spice use are mostly unknown due to its relatively recent introduction to the drug market. This makes it impossible to predict the side effects you’ll experience under its influence or indeed the withdrawal symptoms that will manifest when you decide to quit.

You’ll need addiction treatment to reverse the effects of Spice in your system. Most rehab centres have an in-house medical detox centre to help you withdraw safely from Spice. They’ll use a tapering method to prevent uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and provide medications to treat each symptom as it appears.

Home detox is considered dangerous (especially for long-term Spice users). There is no way to predict the severity of withdrawal symptoms and you might require emergency medical care during detox. Sometimes, addicts become extremely violent, endangering their lives and those of their loved ones. Professional substance abuse treatment mitigates these risk factors by providing a secure environment, where you are safe in the care of resident professionals who supervise the withdrawal process.

Therapy and Specialised Treatment Options

Every individual who enrols to receive addiction treatment at a rehab facility will be treated with a specialised treatment plan. According to NIDA, one primary principle of addiction care is that no two individuals should have the same treatment plan. Your addiction requirements, physiology, environmental factors, co-occurring disorders and personality are each different from the next addict. Subsequently, your treatment team formulates a plan based on data collated during the initial assessment.

According to NIDA, specialised treatment should address:

  • Legal and financial woes
  • Current living situation
  • Broken relationships
  • Employment
  • Mental and physical health conditions

The techniques used in treatment have evolved over the years. Addiction specialists apply a holistic approach to treatment, ensuring they address all issues that influence substance use and increase your chances of life-long abstinence from substance abuse. Types of specialised treatment include:

  • Rehab centres for pregnant women
  • Religious substance abuse treatment
  • Dual diagnosis substance abuse treatment
  • Gender-specific rehab
  • Substance abuse rehab for individuals with eating disorders
  • LGBT rehab centres
  • Age-specific rehabs (such as teen rehab and rehab for senior citizens)
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Warning signs of Spice addiction

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) published a clinical criterion for detecting warning signs of addiction. Researchers have not yet established a specific criterion for Spice addiction, though most addictions feature some similar symptoms. Common signs a Spice addict might exhibit include:

  • Intense craving for Spice
  • Neglect of family, work and other responsibilities
  • The onset of withdrawal symptoms when you attempt to quit Spice
  • Hiding Spice use and spending most of your time trying to acquire more drugs
  • Building tolerance and needing higher doses to feel the initial effects
  • Failed attempts to cut back or quit
  • Continued Spice use, even when you know the health risks of abuse

The dangers of abusing Spice

Synthetic cannabis does not have any medical benefits and is neither natural nor safe. It is made with chemicals sprayed on plants to produce an effect that is ten times more powerful than marijuana and other natural cannabis. Spice abuse damages your body and mind. The combinations used in each batch differ, making it difficult to determine the exact compounds entering your body and destroying your mind. Some of the dangers of abusing Spice include:

Weak Immune system: Spice weakens your immune system and make you susceptible to diseases and infections.

Lung and kidney damage: When you inhale Spice, the noxious chemicals destroy your fragile lung tissues. The CDC states that Spice abuse can lead to kidney failure.

Heart problems: A side effect of abusing Spice is the risk of high blood pressure. It prevents blood flow to your brain and could lead to a stroke. The synthetic chemicals in Spice can also cause a heart attack when you consume large doses.

Brain damage: Spice binds powerfully to cannabinoid receptors in the brain. This alters natural brain function and affects memory, attention, as well as increased risk of seizures.

Inpatient and Outpatient Rehab for Spice Addiction

Inpatient Spice rehab

Substance abuse is a complex issue, littered with struggles, temptations and relapses. There are few addicts who can break the cycle of addiction without professional treatment. Most individuals with a substance use disorder require specialised treatment to overcome addiction.

Inpatient addiction treatment is the first choice recommended by addiction specialists and medical professionals alike. It is set in a therapeutic environment, where you’ll live with recovering addicts who each have the same goals. Psychotherapists are able to incorporate cutting-edge techniques within a single setting to ensure a positive outcome from treatment.

Residential programmes offer you 24-hour support from professionals who are always close by to treat any emergency conditions and offer a listening ear on tough days. Techniques used in treatment include one-on-one therapy, group counselling, nutrition therapy, holistic treatment, dual diagnosis treatment, skills training, education classes and family therapy.

Outpatient Spice rehab

Inpatient treatment is not your only option for recovery. There are outpatient programmes designed for individuals whose home and work responsibilities won’t let them attend rehab full time. Programmes vary in style, but follow a similar pattern. Most outpatient programmes are designed around your schedule. They provide treatment for a limited number of hours during the week and their flexibility allows you go to work and receive addiction treatment at the same time. Addiction specialists advise that this option is not ideal for individuals who require medical services alongside addiction treatment, as well as those who have polysubstance use disorder and long-term substance abusers.

Inpatient programmes are sufficient if you’re a mild addict who is fully motivated to recover from addiction. Apart from Intensive Outpatient Programmes (IOP), you could register for partial hospitalisation. This is preferred by recovering addicts who’ve received residential treatment, but relapsed after discharge. It is more time consuming than IOP and the duration of treatment depends on the severity of your addiction and individual treatment needs.

Finding an Exclusive Spice Rehab facility

As a business executive or CEO, it might be difficult to attend rehab full time because of your responsibilities at work. Thankfully, with advances in technology and science, you can take your work with you (‘on the go’) and receive treatment for substance abuse co-currently. Executive rehab programmes provide unique services such as access to a work area, computer, internet access, mobile phone and meeting rooms. You’ll be able to conduct business and receive addiction treatment in the same environment.

Amenities at a luxury rehab centre ensure you receive the same high quality of living during rehab that you’re used to at home. You’ll enjoy fine dining, an in-house gym and swimming pool, massage therapy, animal therapy, saunas, as well as spacious, luxurious rooms. These rehab centres provide similar services to a standard rehab facility without compromising on the quality of care.

What to Know about Spice Clinics

All drug rehabilitation programmes follow a similar structure, but have some unique modalities that set them apart. When you arrive at a rehabilitation centre, a drug counsellor receives you at reception. There is then an interview stage to collect personal information and undergo a physical assessment and psychiatric evaluation by a psychotherapist. Your treatment team incorporates information gathered at intake to create a specialised treatment plan, which will guide all treatment efforts during your rehab stay.

You’re advised to stay in treatment until the official discharge date, but no one can force you to stay. Every day, all your activities are pre-planned to provide structure and improve the outcome of treatment. Treatment begins with detoxification to rid your system of Spice and other addictive substances. When you’re physically stabilised, you’ll transition to rehab, where drug counsellors and therapists will help you understand your addiction and teach you coping strategies for dealing with triggers.

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Private Spice Rehabs and Confidentiality

One reason that might prevent you from receiving addiction treatment is the thought of being exposed or perceived as weak when you enter rehab. You could also be worried about the damage it causes to your reputation, business profile or indeed the stigma people will place on you as a recovering addict. For treatment to work, you have to open up in therapy about deeply personal issues you’ve not properly addressed. These issues can make you feel vulnerable and exposed. However, the relationship between client and therapist is built on trust and privacy.

All discussions in therapy are protected by client confidentiality. Your private information or data will not be divulged to non-authorised third parties who are not involved in your treatment (not even family members who might be paying for treatment). All staff members working at rehab centres sign a document that legally prevents them from sharing the personal information of clients with anyone. The fear of public exposure shouldn’t prevent you from seeking addiction treatment.

Individual and Group Therapy

Individual Therapy

Individual therapy is one-on-one treatment you’ll receive from a trained therapist, who incorporates several techniques to help you recover from substance use and treat all psychological disorders diagnosed at intake.  Challenges addressed through individual therapy include:

  • Substance use disorder
  • Life issues such as loss of family member, divorce, retirement or unemployment
  • Behavioural disorders such as internet addiction, gambling, eating disorders, porn addiction and more
  • Mental health issues such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, depression and anxiety disorder.

Group Therapy

This is a type of psychotherapy, involving a licensed drug counsellor and several recovering addicts. It could be used alone or integrated with addiction treatment. According to popular psychologist Irvin D. Yalom, the key principles of group therapy include:

  • Group members share information to help each other
  • The instillation of hope, by hearing from other individuals who are meeting their recovery goals.
  • Being in a group with others who have the same recovery goals makes you feel that you’re not alone.
  • Groups should feel like a family, where members are comfortable sharing their personal experiences that led to substance abuse

A synopsis of treatment programmes and their duration

Detoxification: This is the first stage of Spice addiction treatment. You could develop cannabis use disorder from the long-term abuse of synthetic marijuana. Detox is the safest way to remove Spice and any other synthetic substances from your body. Withdrawal symptoms peak within one week after your last drug use and might extend up to two weeks.

Inpatient treatment: At a residential treatment facility, you’ll be committing to an extended stay. The programme is structured and your entire day is planned to improve the outcome of treatment. It provides a supportive environment and 24/7 care from medical professionals, who offer more intensive care than the outpatient setting. Short-term rehab stays last 28-30 days, while long-term rehab stays usually last 60-90 days.

Outpatient treatment: You’ll receive treatment as an outpatient if work or family responsibilities won’t allow you to commit to full time treatment. You can either receive IOP or partial hospitalisation treatment. This is not as intensive or structured as inpatient treatment, but is effective when you’re fully motivated to recover. Treatment lasts between 10-16 weeks for most recovering addicts.

Aftercare: This is an integral part of addiction treatment. Aftercare (or continuing care) is the support you receive post-rehab to prevent relapse and ensure you maintain abstinence. Depending on your recovery needs, professional aftercare might last between a year or two for most patients.

Detoxing from Spice: All you need to know

Synthetic cannabinoids are designed to mirror the effects of THC, marijuana and delta 9-tethydrocannabonoi. Substances like Spice and K2 bind a thousand times more powerfully to cannabinoid receptors in the brain, making them more potent than cannabis. The increased potency and chemicals used in production combine to make withdrawal from Spice abuse a very uncomfortable experience, as well as a high risk of overdose.

The clearest study on Spice withdrawal symptoms was published by German researchers in 2009 and lists five criteria of Spice addiction:

  • Increasing dosage over time
  • Withdrawal symptoms when you go a short period without using Spice
  • Neglecting job/school responsibilities
  • Obsession with Spice use
  • Continued Spice use, even when you know the negative consequences

Detox is carried out in a medical facility, where medical professionals will supervise the entire process to ensure you remain safe. The goal of detox is to remove all traces of Spice and other drugs from your body. Withdrawal symptoms you might experience during detox include:

  • Nightmares
  • Insomnia
  • Cravings
  • Tremors
  • Depression
  • Difficulty Concentrating
  • Restlessness
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Extreme sweating

You’ll begin to experience withdrawal symptoms within two to three days after your last Spice use. Early withdrawal symptoms are manageable and include internal unrest and anger. Most of the withdrawal symptoms occur in the acute phase and fade after four to seven days of abstinence. Psychological symptoms such as anxiety and depression might linger up to a month or two if not addressed during rehab.

There are no FDA-approved medications for Spice withdrawal. However, your prescribing doctor might recommend medications to treat specific symptoms as they appear. Examples include antidepressants for depression and anxiety; blood pressure medication for hypertension; and medications to normalise chemical levels in the brain.

Psychological Therapy

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

Since its introduction in the 1960s, CBT is at the core of most behavioural approaches for treating addiction. CBT is based on the principle that an addict can work towards destroying negative thoughts, behaviour and emotions to make way for positive changes. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy helps you visualise a future without substance abuse, cultivate abstinent activities, practice relapse prevention and strengthen self-belief and confidence.

Motivational Interviewing (MI)

Motivational Interviewing is founded on the belief that all substance users are aware of their actions and the negative consequences of substance abuse. Motivational Interviewing helps to remove ambivalence towards treatment and increase your motivation to quit substance abuse. Treatment focuses on what you want – not what the counsellor thinks you need. MI helps you work through the internal conflict of whether to stop or continue Spice abuse by laying out the pros and con of quitting.

Paying for Spice Addiction Treatment

Your first option when considering payment is to look into your insurance coverage. Many insurers will cover full or partial payment of rehab. However, it’s best to contact the insurer to determine what your policy covers or enlist the help of the rehab centre to make enquires on your behalf.

If the cost of treatment is still high after insurance contributions, you could work out a payment plan with the financier of the rehab centre. They are able to spread out the cost over a predetermined timeframe to reduce the burden of payment. Other options include:

  • Asking for financial assistance from friends and family
  • Paying out of your personal funds
  • Applying for a government grant via the NHS
  • Crowdfunding

Benefits of Holistic Rehab

Holistic rehab offers standard addiction programmes in addition to alternative treatment models. For example, standard rehabs might use medications to ease uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, but holistic rehabs don’t use medications. Other benefits include:

  • Organic meal preparations
  • Alternative therapy such as art lessons, music therapy, massage, acupuncture and animal-assisted therapy
  • Provision of a serene, isolated location (mostly located close to a lake, ocean or mountain)
  • Group activities such as mountain climbing, hiking, swimming or walking
  • Meditations and exercises
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Post-Rehabilitation Support

The best form of relapse prevention is to develop an aftercare plan whilst you’re in rehab. According to the National Institute of Health, addiction is a lifelong process and a solid aftercare plan increases your chances of maintaining abstinence from drugs. Treatment doesn’t end with drug rehabilitation, as recovery changes your lifestyle. You’ll work with your treatment providers to build a personalised aftercare programme that begins after you’re discharged from rehab.

Your aftercare plan should include 12-step programmes; support group meetings; individual therapy sessions; group therapy sessions; doctor appointments; and sober living homes (sometimes recommended by a therapist).

The Risk of Relapse for Spice Addicts

Synthetic substances such as K2 and Spice are man-made cannabis, comprising chemicals to mimic the effects of marijuana. They have a powerful effect on the brain and cravings are very difficult to overcome, because fake marijuana binds more tightly to the brain than THC, making it hard to quit Spice abuse.

Relapse could be triggered by psychological distress; viewing images or music you associated with Spice use; visiting old environments where you used Spice; hanging out with recreational users; failing to take better care of yourself; and lack of an aftercare plan.

It’s important to build your own support network of abstinent friends. 12-step meetings, sober homes and rehab centres are all good places to meet individuals who have similar recovery goals. Research has shown that mindfulness meditation helps to relieve strong cravings to use Spice. Alternatively, you could go for a run, surf or use motivational self-talk to work past cravings.

Drug-Free Living Support

Sober housing is an option if you’ve recently completed rehab treatment, but aren’t ready to fully transition into society. You’ll have to follow house rules and provide for yourself whilst living in a sober home. You’ll pay rent, cook your own meals, complete house chores and maintain abstinence from drugs throughout the duration of your stay.

You’re also required to hold down a job or volunteer as part of the transitioning process. You have to be home in time for curfew and submit to random drug testing, aimed at keeping you motivated. There are family programmes, support groups and house meetings as part of continuing care.

Family Therapy

The effects of addiction are felt by the entire family unit of the addict. Sometimes, family issues might be a key influencer in the decision to abuse Spice and other addictive substances. Effective treatment incorporates the family unit during treatment. Family therapy is a technique that aims to utilise familial bonds to improve treatment outcome.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, this therapy model is effective in treating substance

It can be combined with pharmacology, group therapy, residential programmes, aftercare and individual therapy.

Seek Help

Spice addiction only started receiving media attention in recent years due to the devastation it has caused on British citizens, rendering many homeless and also straining the NHS that spends millions of pounds providing emergency treatment for Spice addicts. The novelty of the drug means that detecting Spice use might be difficult for some users, making it harder to narrow down a treatment plan.

You need professional help if you’re dealing with any cannabis use disorder. Call an addiction helpline and a drug counsellor will use research-backed techniques to recommend a plan of action for you. Drug rehabilitation centres are equipped to help you make a full recovery from K2/Spice addiction.


What is Spice Addiction Treatment?

Spice addiction treatment is the care and treatment you’ll receive for addiction to synthetic cannabinoids at a drug rehabilitation facility. The goal of addiction treatment is to remove toxic substances from your body, help you understand your addiction and equip you with coping skills to deal with triggers and cravings when they occur.

Are There Any Home Remedies for Getting Clean Safely?

There are no home remedies for Spice withdrawal. Some physical symptoms could be treated with over the counter medications such as ibuprofen and Tylenol, but psychological symptoms such as anxiety and depression require professional drug counselling to overcome.

What Recovery Programme is Right for Me?

The right recovery programme is one that treats all physical and psychological aspects of your addiction. It should also address all issues that might have led to substance abuse, such as unemployment, homelessness, poverty, environment, childhood trauma or broken relationships with loved ones. Contact an addiction helpline and a drug counsellor will help you make the right choice.

What are the Options if You Don’t Have Insurance?

Insurance is not the only way to pay for rehab treatment. Options include applying for a rehab scholarship; asking for financial support from loved ones; taking out a home equity loan; using crowdfunding platforms; applying for a government grant via the NHS; paying from your personal funds or by credit card; or attending a state-run programme.

What are Some Common Spice Withdrawal Symptoms?

Common withdrawal symptoms include fatigue, insomnia, change in appetite, stomach cramps, depression, concentration difficulty, fever, tremors, headache and muscle pain.

Why Do People Start Taking Spice?

Most recreational users started using Spice as an experiment, while it was still legal. It was cheaper than marijuana and advertised as a legal high. Sadly, the drug is very potent and binds powerfully to cannabinoid receptors in the brain, making it extremely difficult to quit Spice use on your own.

How is Spice Used and Abused?

Spice has no medical benefits, so all use is termed as abuse. The most common route is to smoke it or add it as an ingredient to baked goods such as cookies. It can also be brewed as tea.

What is the Spice ‘High’ Like?

You can get ‘high’ on Spice, just like other addictive substances. The ingredients in Spice produce agonistic activity in the CNS’s CB1 receptor. This leads to elevated mood, euphoria and a pleasurable state. Some users report feeling brain-dead or entering a zombie-like state, whereby they can’t move. Others say they feel giddiness, relaxation and euphoria followed by vomiting, panic attacks, anxiety and paranoia.

What are the Practical Dangers of Spice Use?

Spice is a dangerous substance that affects both your physical and mental health.

Spice can lead to serious damage – some of which can be permanent.

Effects of using Spice include lung damage; brain damage; kidney damage; increased risk of stroke; seizures; heart attack; weakened immune system and high blood pressure.

What are the Options for Spice Detox?

The safest way to detox is to enrol at a medical-detox centre, where a specialist will supervise your progress during detox to ensure you remain safe. They will also provide medication to treat each symptom as it appears. Alternatively, you could detox at home using a home detox kit, but this is considered dangerous. Notably, the chemicals in Spice continuously change. You’ll need medical treatment that covers both physical and psychological aspects of detox.

How Long Does Inpatient Spice Rehabilitation Take?

Short-term inpatient stays last 28-30 days. Long-term inpatient stays usually last 60-90 days. However, there are longer rehab stays available, ranging from six months and up to a year for those who need it.

What are the Risks of Addiction?

The risks of addiction include environmental factors; brain chemistry; the existence of co-occurring disorders; medical problems; polydrug use disorder; genetics and social factors.

Is It Possible to Avoid Addiction and Rehab?

You can avoid addiction treatment by not using illicit substances as a temporary solution to deal with problems in your life. Synthetic cannabinoids like K2/Spice are addictive and using them just the once is sometimes all it takes to kickstart the journey of addiction.

Why Is Treatment Necessary?

Addiction treatment is your best chance of reversing all the damage caused by addiction. During treatment, you’ll participate in 12-step programmes, where you’ll make amends to those you’ve hurt; work on building communication skills; learn coping strategies for dealing with triggers in a healthy way; and learn to take better care of yourself.

What Types of Treatment Are Available?

Types of addiction treatment include detoxification, inpatient rehab, outpatient programme, aftercare, relapse prevention planning, 12-step programmes and sober living houses.

What If Spice Addiction Goes Untreated?

Addiction worsens when treatment is neglected. Most dangers and long-term effects of Spice use only surface when you don’t seek treatment in time. The problems you tried to solve with substance abuse need to be addressed and any co-occurring disorders should be treated or the symptoms will only worsen. The longer you wait to receive treatment, the more uncomfortable detox will be. It is also harder to reverse damage caused by addiction.

Does Insurance Cover Spice Addiction Rehab?

Insurance providers can covers the full or partial cost of rehab, though this is all dependant on your policy coverage. Contact your insurer to determine exactly what is covered by your insurance plan.

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Call our admissions line 24 hours a day to get help.