You’ve decided to step forward and ask for help with your addiction. Congratulations! Although this process may feel intimidating or even scary, we want you to know that you’ve made the best possible decision you can. Getting help empowers you to move forward into a fulfilling life without needing to lean on substances or maladaptive behaviors when things get tough.
But simply deciding to seek treatment? That’s really just the beginning. You also need to decide how you want to receive treatment, too. Although there are alternatives, most research shows that a 30 to 90-day stay in a residential facility produces better long-term results.
The catch? It’s important to pick the right facility – and that means deciding whether you should stay local or head to somewhere better out of state. Use the information and prompts below to aid you in your decision.
Addiction Treatment Factors Worth Considering
First things first: there are some variables that might impact your ability to choose a treatment facility regardless of location. The biggest influence is insurance and financial aid access. If your insurance provider will only cover an in-state facility or a rehab in your hometown, you may need to consider sticking with that option.
If you’re self-paying, you will naturally have more options – but only slightly. Traveling for treatment is typically more expensive – after all, you need to drive, take a train, or fly to get there. But sometimes, the extra investment is wise. If you know the facilities near you aren’t reliable, or they have a poor track record with past clients, it may be best to bite the bullet and head out of town.
Benefits of Out-Of-State Rehabs
The journey from rock-bottom to sober living is, in fact, an adventure of sorts. Traveling out of state for rehab can help you to feel like you’re breaking ties with your old life and moving on. Sometimes, just this one symbolic “ritual” can be enough to keep someone engaged when it gets rough.
It’s also much harder to quit an out-of-state rehab, which can be important if you aren’t certain your resolve to get sober will hold. Once you hop on an airplane and fly 2000 miles to a rehabilitation facility, it becomes much harder to just walk out the door and leave on impulse!
Better Treatment Options
Simply being able to access a broader range of options can also be a compelling reason to travel out of state for addictions care. If you’re from a small town, you may only have one or two facilities near you – or even none at all. If you’re willing to travel out of state, you have thousands to choose from, each offering something slightly different than the next.
Why does it matter so much? Because no two treatment centers are exactly the same, and which you choose can be the difference between ensuring you get the care you need and settling for care that doesn’t really work for you.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), rehabilitation services must address the individual needs of the whole patient to succeed.
Privacy and Respect
If you’re from a small town – or even a moderately-sized city – you may know half of the people who work at your local rehabilitation facility. If you’re well-known (perhaps a politician, a doctor, or even just a musician who plays in local bars), there is a risk that someone may recognize you during your stay, too. This can be a compelling reason for people to choose out-of-state treatment instead of staying local.
Some people who seek treatment also fear the repercussions of being labeled an addict. They may work for companies who fire anyone in addiction (even though the ADA makes it illegal), or they might belong to social groups where substance use is heavily frowned upon. Traveling to an out-of-state facility, one can simply claim they’re going away on a trip while maintaining their privacy, safety, and respect.
Problems With Out-Of-State Rehab
We’ve given you plenty of reasons to think about traveling to an out-of-state facility, but there are certain disadvantages you need to be aware of.
First, if you already live close to one of the best facilities in the country, and you can afford to go there, there is little reason to travel just for the sake of traveling. It can also be very difficult to arrange family therapy, couples therapy, or even reintegration if you’re staying at a facility thousands of miles away. This can make aftercare and long-term sober living support very challenging.
Insurance providers may or may not be willing to cover out-of-state care, too. Sometimes, the financial load of self-paying just to travel isn’t feasible, or even just isn’t worth it. Judge the investment carefully before you decide.
You should also consider what happens once you return home – will you simply be returning to the same environment that triggered your use in the first place? If you don’t have a solid plan for support upon arriving home, the risk of relapse can be extremely high. But then again, traveling outside of your state may give you an opportunity to start a brand new life in another location, too!
Is Local Rehabilitation Ever Right?
Yes! In fact, there are many situations where it might be better to choose to stay local, rather than jet-setting off to another state.
First, local rehabs will often save you money – even if it’s just the cost of travel itself. Flights can be notoriously expensive, especially if you’re traveling coast-to-cast, and you’ll also need a little bit of savings while you’re there, too.
If you’re struggling financially, and need to apply for a scholarship or grant for rehab, you may need to work within a specific network of locations. While many organizations approve people for a certain monetary amount, and not a specific facility, some do have limits on choice. An organization from your home city may be more likely to approve you if you agree to attend a local facility.
If you have children and/or a spouse, staying local can be helpful. A big part of the rehabilitation process includes re-learning how to interact with family members, make up for your past transgressions, and move forward in a healthy manner. Having group or family therapy sessions before you leave treatment will aid you in this process.
Don’t forget about the benefit of being closer to the people you love. It’s always nice to have a visit from your bestie or a treasured cousin when you’re going through a difficult time!
Disadvantages of Local Rehabs
We’ve mentioned a few of these disadvantages in passing already, but let’s get specific about the problems with local rehabs.
Number one is the risk of leaving treatment early. If you are worried about your resolve and fear you may leave against medical advice, you may be putting yourself at risk by staying local. It’s incredibly easy to justify walking out the door when you’ve hit your 12th craving for the day, you’re in the middle of a panic attack, and you know you can literally take a single bus to get home – or worse yet, access your old dealer.
Secondly, if you are still involved in toxic relationships with people who use, you may find their closeness a temptation to leave and give up. This is especially true if you are exceptionally close to the person (e.g., a sibling or a spouse). Even if they love you, their own issues and dysfunctional behaviors might make them more dangerous for you in early recovery than they are helpful.
What Really Matters the Most
Still not sure what decision to make? Let’s get real for a second and talk about what matters most: you want to get help. That’s huge.
No matter where you’re starting from, or how far off-track you’ve managed to get, we’re proud of you. Start the process by having a no-obligation conversation with an addictions counselor today and find your best path forward. Help is available – you don’t need to do this alone.