Traveling for Treatment
There are many factors involved in choosing an addiction treatment program, because no one program is the right choice for every patient. The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that one of the principles of effective addiction treatment is to match individual needs with the appropriate settings, programs and services. For many people, traveling out of state for treatment is the best choice.
Why Traveling for Addiction Treatment May be Wise
Reasons why traveling for treatment may be the wisest choice include the following:
- Traveling to rehab allows a more complete separation from the distractions and reminders of everyday life. A new environment allows patients to more easily focus on the goals of recovery and healing without reminders of other responsibilities.
- Traveling for treatment provides a separation from substance-using friends who may not support a patient’s recovery efforts. When patients travel for addiction treatment, they can no longer rely on old networks of friendships, but are placed in environments where new bonds are formed. This allows patients to begin to experience healthy relationships and learn how to build them.
- When patients travel for rehab, they are separated from well-meaning friends and family members who may serve as enablers. Enablers protect their loved ones from experiencing all the consequences of their addiction. Although enablers generally mean well, their efforts are counterproductive because understanding and experiencing addiction’s consequences is often a key to providing the motivation to change.
- Sensory input (sight, sounds, smells, etc.) associated with drug or alcohol use can serve to trigger cravings. When patients travel to a location far enough away from home, many of these triggers can be avoided, which can be especially important during the first days and weeks of recovery.
- Stress is also a significant trigger for those used to using drugs or alcohol to combat it. Often, family relationships which have been strained by addiction contribute to ongoing stress. A break from the relationships, made possible by traveling to rehab, is often healthy and beneficial for all parties.
- Traveling for rehab makes it harder, on a purely practical level, for patients to continue using drugs or alcohol. They are far from the drug dealers or familiar liquor stores that are part of their addiction and substance use history.
- When patients travel for treatment, it is harder for them to leave before it has been completed. When patients attend rehab close to home, it is easier for them to follow through on an impulsive decision to leave when the program gets difficult. Remaining in rehab for an adequate length of time is vital to ultimate success. A 2004 publication by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration notes that increased length of stay in addiction treatment is associated with improved outcomes, including abstinence from drugs, a better employment picture, and decreases in criminal behavior.
- Traveling to a new location, especially a pleasant one, can feel in some respects like a vacation. A relaxing and new environment can help balance the work of recovery and make the entire experience less challenging and more enjoyable. A 2005 article in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology notes that early treatment dropout is associated with lower levels of psychological distress tolerance. Lowering the amount of potential distress by providing treatment in a vacation-like environment can be important for treatment retention
- Although there are regulations that ensure the privacy of patients in addiction treatment, some people are more able to relax when they are in treatment far from home because they feel more “hidden” from people they know.
- A completely new environment can signal to the brain that other things are also new. Addiction is a brain disease, and recovery involves brain healing and restoration. Attending rehab in a new environment can jump start the process of forming new neural connections and associations. When the environment is new, it may be easier to start new habits and make new goals.
Common Questions and Reservations about Traveling for Addiction Treatment
Sometimes people have questions and reservations about traveling for addiction treatment, including the following:
- Logistics – Most quality treatment programs will help arrange travel for incoming patients. Professional interventionists can also arrange travel as part of the services they offer.
- Fear of abusing drugs or alcohol on the way to treatment – This fear can be addressed by hiring a “sober escort” who will accompany the patient to the treatment facility. Some treatment facilities help with this.
- Not wanting to leave family members, especially children – Although it can be hard on children for a parent to be gone, it is even more detrimental for a parent to continue in addiction. Many programs include family members through phone or Skype visits or arrange for periodic visits to the facility.
Call Us and Begin to Break Free
If you would like to talk to someone about finding an addiction treatment program that meets your personal needs, give us a call. Our toll-free helpline is available 24 hours a day, and our phone counselors are always ready to answer your questions. They can even check your insurance coverage for you if you wish, at no cost or obligation. Call now and begin the journey of freedom from addiction.