Traveling for rehab is not exactly a new trend. Back when drug and alcohol rehab programs were somewhat of a novelty, recovering individuals often had to leave their hometowns just to be able to seek treatment. Considering that most people don’t really get to travel that much, adding the tourist experience to this was and still is probably just the natural thing to do.
However, it’s only with the rise of affordable air travel that medical tourism — and by extension, rehab tourism — became accessible to regular people. The demand is big enough that some rehabilitation centers in Dallas, for example, can connect clients with other facilities in their network which could be out of state, or even out of the country.
With opioid and stimulant use surging during the pandemic, the rehab tourism industry is likely to receive a massive boost as soon as air travel goes back to a semblance of normalcy. Now that the world is finally beginning to recover from the coronavirus, we’re likely to see air travel restrictions ease up a bit. As more people the world over get vaccinated, we might see rehab tourism exceed pre-pandemic levels.
If you or a loved one need substance rehab, you’ve probably already considered whether it would be a good decision to have treatment elsewhere. Below are just a few of the reasons why traveling for rehab might be a good idea.
1.) It removes recovering individuals from traumatic or triggering environments
The environment a person is in is likely to be a big contributor to any substance misuse. In fact, the main point of residential programs is to remove a person from these harmful environments so that their body and mind have a chance to recover.
However, for many people recovering from substance use disorders, being in the same city or state doesn’t offer enough of a clean break from the past.
For this reason, some individuals may even opt for an out-of-state recovery program even when they have immediate local access to otherwise excellent facilities. Additionally, some people may be more comfortable talking about their problems to therapists who are not in any way connected to home.
2.) Traveling can offer more discretion
The stigma towards substance use disorder remains very strong. Understandably, many recovering individuals will want to keep their treatment private. Unfortunately, substance rehab can be a very involved process that will almost always affect a person’s career or school life in some way.
If an individual chooses a residential program, they will likely need to temporarily stop work or schooling. If they choose a local outpatient program, they will likely need to significantly readjust their schedule. In either case, it can be difficult to keep things quiet if the recovering individual wishes it.
Getting treated out of town usually can be more discreet. This is more true if the recovering individual opts for outpatient rather than residential treatment. The trip can be more easily framed as a vacation, sabbatical, or leave of absence for personal reasons. This can give the individual more privacy to deal with their problems, should they need it.
3.) Some space may be better for loved ones
Substance use disorders can affect the the person’s whole family. Chances are that family members and close friends will be deeply traumatized by seeing a loved one struggle with drugs or alcohol. They may develop negative or mixed feelings just from having the person close by.
Some distance between the recovering individual and their family can be healthy for all involved, helping all parties heal and readjust from the immediate trauma. This can make it easier for loved ones to provide adequate support, after the individual finishes rehab.
4.) It can be more economical
People looking to stretch their budget and those considering affordable luxury accommodations should consider looking outside the state or even outside the country. Medical tourism destinations like Florida, Israel, Mexico, and Thailand all offer relatively affordable rehab services, including economy and luxury options.
Traveling for rehab can save money in other ways. Residential programs tend to be much more expensive compared to outpatient equivalents. However, these programs are often more desired because they can effectively separate people from triggering environments.
Given that the cost difference between outpatient and residential programs can be much more than the cost of a round trip plane ticket and accommodations, getting treatment outside one’s hometown can be an economical option for many.
Doing this may give individuals the separation they need from their triggers as they receive treatment. Going this route may also allow more freedom to continue working, if one’s profession allows it or if one can find a job at their temporary home. In contrast, residential programs will often make it impossible to earn an income for the duration of one’s stay.
5.) Leaving home can offer a fresh sense of perspective
Sometimes, the best thing one can do to begin healing is to take a break from old patterns. Leaving home can be stressful, but it can force one off the routines that may be contributing to substance misuse.
It can also leave one with plenty of opportunities to reflect on one’s problems from a figurative and literal distance. A lot of the time, this is often the kind of thing recovering individuals need to stay on the path to recovery.
Traveling for rehab can be beneficial for some recovering individuals — if they can afford it. It can be an immense help for those struggling to break free of old self-destructive patterns as well as those who keep finding negative emotional triggers in their current surroundings.
One thing that travel isn’t is a replacement for actual therapy and treatment. However, the act of traveling can provide the necessary emotional distance some patients need to feel invested in their recovery. In any case, patients who do have the means to travel for substance rehab should, at the very least, consider it.