Seeking out addiction treatment can be one of the best steps you ever take for yourself or your loved ones. With over 18.5 million people in the United States struggling with a substance use disorder, addiction causes more deaths, physical health problems, and mental health problems than nearly anything else. Getting treatment means choosing between outpatient care and inpatient, but also between local and out-of-state treatment.
While every option has its pros and cons, out-of-state treatment has distinct advantages for many of us. If you’re considering which is best for you, this article covers the pros and cons of out of state addiction treatment, and why it’s actually a good idea for many people. At the same time, getting treatment is more important than getting “optimal” treatment.
If you cannot travel, have too many obligations at home, or cannot afford out of state care, it’s still better to seek out treatment locally than to not get it at all.
Why Would You Go Out of State for Addiction Treatment?
Traveling out of state offers numerous advantages, especially to working professionals with the need to maintain local reputation. You also get a considerable increase in choice in facilities, an increased need for commitment, and a change of scenery, making it easier to approach treatment from a blank slate. In the following paragraphs, we’ll go into each of these benefits in more detail, so that you can see how they might play a role in your outcomes and long-term recovery.
Anonymity – Working professionals, individuals with a local reputation, or anyone who simply doesn’t want their friends and neighbors to know that they’re seeking out addiction treatment benefit from going out of state. If you attend local addiction treatment, everyone will know. That’s especially true if you’re going to an outpatient treatment center, where you’ll have to go every day. Switching to out of state means that no one will know who you are, you can seek out treatment in complete anonymity, and the chances of your boss, colleagues, or parents-in-law finding out are virtually nil.
This is also important for how the people around you see and respond to you. Being able to talk to people who do not know you at all will reduce pressure, will allow you to be more open, and allows you to approach treatment from the aspect of building a new and better life, not rebuilding the old one that led you to addiction in the first place.
More Rehab Centers – While most states have some options for rehab centers, the large number of rehab centers are focused in scenic areas with good climates. This maps to the fact that if you’re going to spend 30-90 days away from home, you might as well do it in a good climate with sun or a view rather than at home. But, while scenery is certainly a perk, it’s not a real reason to go. Looking for treatment out of state means you get more options in terms of treatment centers, more therapy options, and more types of support. For example, you’ll have options to look for treatment programs specialized by gender, for LGBTQI rehab, for dual diagnosis treatment, and much more. At a local level, you’ll likely have 1-2 options for treatment.
Be Brave. Get Help.
If you travel, you’ll have hundreds of options, which you can use to narrow down the specific treatment options that benefit you or your loved one and your specific needs. You can look for:
- Treatment Types – For example, behavioral therapy like CBT, DBT, EMDR, etc., counseling, group therapy, 12-step, non-12-step, family therapy, etc.
- Treatment Providers – Licensed and certified physiatrists, counselors, and nurses, licensed doctors
- Specialty Programs – Custom programs to support your specific needs, mental or physical health, etc. For example, you may want to seek out a gender-differentiated program, a program designed around the mental health needs of LGTBQI+, or custom programs to support a mental health disorder diagnosis or to treat a mental health disorder diagnosis. This is important, especially if you have to take medication for a mental or physical health problem.
- Quality of Treatment – What do reviews say? Do they offer ongoing care or aftercare? Do they offer sober living? Do they offer transitional programs?
Childcare – An estimated 20% of rehab centers offer some form of childcare in addiction treatment. This allows single parents to seek out treatment and bring their children with them, allowing everyone to benefit from access to therapy, access to family therapy, and access to family. If this is a concern, it will narrow options considerably, which makes going out of state even more important.
Leaving Triggers Behind – For many of us, substance abuse becomes tied up in our habits, our daily patterns, and our daily lives. Remaining in that environment while trying to recover can be counterproductive. For example, if you’re accustomed to drinking when you get home from work, changing that habit while receiving treatment can be considerably difficult. If your drug dealer is only a phone call away, it’s a lot easier to actually just reach out than it is if you’re in another state. Going to out of state treatment means leaving triggers behind, making it easier to avoid drugs and alcohol (because you’re in a new place), and to give yourself a fresh start, free from the negative influences on your daily life. This can be a powerful step in your recovery, especially if you face significant stress and pressure at home.
Emotional Commitment – Choosing to pack up and drive or fly to a rehab center is a big step and a big commitment. Living in a new place for 30-90 days is a massive step that can solidify the idea of recovery, boost motivation, and give you a daily reminder that you are working for that recovery. This can be a powerful step in getting treatment and in committing to recovery.
Destination recovery centers offer peace, beautiful scenery, and comfortable living spaces. On the surface, they can feel like going on vacation. That’s good because it’s important that you be able to relax and destress. A beautiful environment can help with that. But, it’s far from the most important part of traveling for addiction treatment.
Choosing Out of State Addiction Treatment
Traveling out of state is not right for everyone. For example, if you rely on close contact with friends and family, you might want to stay at a local treatment center. If budget is a large problem and/or your insurance does not cover out of state treatment, staying local may also be a consideration. Finally, you want to check aftercare and long-term support in your area.
Many treatment centers will offer considerable support out-of-state, because they work with a network of providers. That means you still get long-term group support, you can still move into a sober living home if that’s the right solution for you, and you can still go back for more counseling and more help when you slip up.
Traveling to an out of state rehab center offers numerous advantages to many people. Moving to a new location, having a clean statement, and being able to commit to care somewhere with no triggers, no habits, and no engrained patterns can give you the fresh start you need to recover.
If you choose to travel out of state for substance use disorder treatment, make sure you research your options, choose a good rehab center, and check your aftercare options once you get home. Good luck with treatment and care.