When someone comes to terms with the fact that they need additional help to get out of the cycle of drug or alcohol abuse they’re stuck in, they are often faced with the overwhelming choice of where to find such help. With thousands of treatment facilities offering these services across the country, per the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, to say it’s overwhelming may be an understatement, especially when the services someone requires aren’t always readily available where they live. This presents a common dilemma: choosing whether to attend treatment nearby that may be less effective, or to travel out of the area for treatment that is a better match to the person’s needs.
The Pros and Cons
A few things to consider before choosing an out-of-area rehab facility include:
- The price of inpatient treatment is usually higher due to food and lodging costs.
- Insurance coverage may not be as good out of state.
- Work and/or school will have to be suspended during treatment.
- Integrating family into therapy with the client is more difficult.
Traveling for treatment isn’t convenient for most who do it, but many do regardless. That’s because treatment must take priority in order for it to be a success. Sometimes that means hopping on a plane or driving several hours to a destination far away from family and loved ones to get better.
For some people, getting away from the environment where they regularly abused drugs or alcohol can be highly beneficial. If they travel for treatment, they are able to fully focus on recovery since the distractions of everyday life are not present. Also, travelling for treatment sometimes affords personal additional privacy, as people don’t necessarily know they are in rehab.
For others, traveling for treatment just doesn’t make sense. These people may have a family to care for or a job they can’t take a leave of absence from. In these cases, an outpatient treatment program might be preferable. Those who don’t travel for treatment are able to involve their family in the treatment process more easily. They’re also able to put some of the lessons learned in rehab into immediate practice in life outside the treatment facility.
Cost and Insurance
Treatment can be expensive. Individuals should look for treatment programs that fall within their financial means, even if that results in them leaving the area for a while. The first stop when considering how to pay for treatment should be insurance. Insurance companies may have limitations on what types of facilities are covered, and coverage may be lower for out-of-state facilities. Individuals should verify their benefits with their provider before solidifying plans to travel for treatment.
That being said, not everyone has health insurance. Around 44 million Americans are without health insurance, PBS notes. If people are paying for treatment out of pocket, they may be able to find better deals if they are willing to travel outside their local area.
Time and Responsibility
Taking time away from one’s life comes with consequences that will impact more than just the individual client’s life. For example, spouses or partners will have to shoulder the entire burden of childcare and household responsibilities. This may be difficult if both parents work.
In addition, the person who is traveling must take time off of work. This can equate to lost wages, which can impact an already-strained financial situation when trying to pay for treatment. Families also have to cope with missing a care provider and loved one on an emotional front. The sudden absence of a parent is hard for children especially.
It is important to note that taking a leave of absence from work cannot be held against a person while they are away at treatment. The Family and Medical Leave Act allows for most employees to take off up to 12 weeks from work in a year-long period and offers them job security while they do it.
The Family Unit
The whole family doesn’t have to suffer just because one party is away getting better. In fact, the reprieve is often just what many people in this situation need to be able to start fresh after treatment is over. Fortunately, technologic advancements allow for group therapy sessions that can be carried out via phone calls and webcam systems. This is quite common today in treatment centers since so many clients in rehab are from out of town.
Family therapy is still a vital part of treatment even when there may be many miles separating the client from their loved ones. The University of Washington Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute reported on a survey in which 42 percent of treatment programs involved families in the rehabilitation process on a regular basis.
A few other perks of traveling for treatment include removing clients from environmental influences and peers who may be contributing to their substance abuse and time away from stressors that contribute to triggers to use.
Time to Pack
Rural communities are less likely to have a wide array of treatment programs for clients to choose from. If someone requires more intensive care that can’t be found locally, that’s a valid reason to travel for treatment. Inpatient care is also a solid reason to start packing bags. SAMHSA reported there were 11,542 outpatient treatment programs in operation on a given date in 2013, compared to only 3,450 residential and 753 hospital inpatient facilities. With such a disparity in number between inpatient and outpatient programs, it stands to reason many people won’t have immediate access to treatment centers offering inpatient programs. In these cases, traveling is often the best solution.
Overall, committing to treatment is a life-changing decision and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. That being said, whether treatment is local or halfway across the world, accepting help and making the push to overcome addiction is always worth the time, money, and energy put into it. Recovering from addiction is the strongest safeguard anyone can employ to maintain their family life, profession, health, and overall wellbeing. Help is available to those who want it.