Once something that was only done by individuals from well-off families, traveling for rehab has become a mainstream practice in the past few decades. Boston Drug Treatment Centers, a directory of substance rehab programs in Massachusetts, reports that the number of out-of-state inquiries has consistently grown over the years.
But why would anyone want to leave their homes and families for treatment? Leaving home for any kind of medical treatment often seems like a big leap. However, there are some very good reasons someone may want to do this, especially when drug or alcohol use disorders and other kinds of psychiatric illnesses are involved.
Staying in the same community where one’s condition deteriorated isn’t always the best option. Below are some solid reasons to consider traveling to a rehab facility in another city, state, or country for treatment.
1.) It removes patients from most triggers and relapse risks
For most people, psychiatric conditions like drug and alcohol use disorder tend to develop in their regular home and work environments. While there are certainly exceptions to this, most people with substance use disorder (SUD) have triggers connected with their daily routines and interactions.
In these cases, people trying to recover from drugs may face an uphill battle even as they’re being treated. This is especially true for patients in outpatient programs since these treatment modes do not restrict their movement outside the facility.
While they might do better in an inpatient program, this may not necessarily be enough to keep them from relapsing. In many cases, inpatient facilities do not hold patients who want to leave. Even when they do, determined SUD patients may still be able to escape or have local contacts to smuggle in contraband.
While joining a rehab program in a different area does not necessarily guarantee a patient will be able to avoid all triggers and relapse risks, it can still significantly reduce them. Even if they leave the facility, they may still face additional barriers to getting drugs or alcohol, depending on where the facility is located. Given that cravings are at their strongest during and shortly after withdrawal, this can help the individual with their commitment to recovery.
2.) Traveling for rehab can remove other distractions
Cravings are not the only thing that can distract the patient from their recovery. As implied earlier, enablers are often to be found in one’s day-to-day life.
These can be friends or family members who either supply drugs and alcohol or otherwise make the continued misuse of these substances possible. Even if these people were not actively enabling substance misuse, their presence can still be a serious distraction for the patient.
For this reason, most rehab centers will usually limit the amount of outside contact with the patient, further helping them concentrate on their recovery. Being in a facility in a different state or country can further help prevent family and friends from being a distraction. This may help keep progress more consistent at the critical early stages of recovery.
3.) It simply may not be possible to get the care one needs in their hometown
Not every county or city hosts rehab programs and facilities that could handle every possible recovery scenario. Unfortunately, choosing to be treated locally also often means that one doesn’t have access to the right specialists or standards of care that one needs.
This is especially true in the context of addiction treatment. Today, there is a serious shortage of mental health professionals in the United States. The field of addiction treatment is one of the most impacted as a direct result of this.
While this shortage is not as obvious in most large urban areas, it is especially pronounced in rural counties. Some states are also experiencing the shortage more acutely than others.
Chances are, if an individual with a dual diagnosis or a more complex case is located outside of a major metropolitan area, they will simply not be able to get the care they need locally. In these instances, traveling for rehab treatment is a necessity for the patient’s condition to be addressed adequately.
If a recovering individual has the means, traveling for treatment should be considered. Doing so has solid benefits for most patients, particularly during the initial recovery phase. People with SUD experience extremely difficult challenges during this phase of recovery, and traveling out of their hometown can be a good way of helping them overcome these more easily.
Additionally, the current shortage of mental health and addiction treatment professionals in the United States often means that traveling for treatment is essential in many cases, particularly when a comorbidity or other complication.
Wherever you or your loved one choose to be treated, make sure to get the advice of a trained mental health professional before making this commitment. Good luck, and stay sober!