Aims : Explore client and staff views of the most and least useful aspects of residential rehabilitation. Methods: A qualitative study, involving interviews with clients who had attended residential rehabilitation and a range of relevant staff, conducted in the Wiltshire and Swindon areas of the UK. Findings: All interviewees agreed there were many benefits to be gained from Residential Rehabilitation. There was considerable diversity of clients' experiences of the help provided to them in the community, and most criticism was reserved for what happened before and after residential rehabilitation. Conclusions: Arrangements for care need to be considered before admission, not just before discharge, taking a comprehensive holistic approach to client needs, including childcare, housing, training and education, employment, family and relationship concerns. This implies skilled key‐working, effective inter‐agency collaboration and the setting of clear standards of quality. Residential rehabilitation has evolved from a service provided mainly for older people with alcohol problems, to those with heroin addiction and now those with dual or multiple addictions, notably involving crack cocaine. It may be that different types of ‘therapeutic community’ are needed for different problems.