There are a lot of factors to take into consideration when choosing the right drug and alcohol rehab for you, and asking yourself, “Should I go to rehab away from home?” is certainly a worthy question.
In many cases, leaving your hometown to get treatment for addiction or alcoholism is a necessity. After all, 60 million Americans — or 1 in 5 — lives in what’s considered a rural area , where access to even basic medical care can be limited, and a drug and alcohol treatment center may be hundreds of miles away in the closest large city.
But it’s important to keep in mind — there’s a difference between picking the closest drug and alcohol rehab, and the one that best meets your needs. While there are common elements shared between reputable treatment centers, “recovery” isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to problems caused by addiction or alcoholism. It’s crucial, then, that you don’t just pick the nearest drug and alcohol treatment center just because it’s closest to where you live Sometimes, the answer to your question — “should I go to rehab away from home?” — is a resounding yes, even if there’s one right next door to your house.
Why? For any number of reasons, but we’ve rounded up five good ones here:
‘Should I Go to Rehab Away From Home?’ Sometimes, You’ve Got to Get Away
There’s a saying in recovery circles that in order to move past addiction or alcoholism, you’ve got to avoid people, places and things that can be triggering — meaning, they initiate thoughts of drinking and using that can quickly become what’s known as a craving in early recovery. In a 2000 article for the journal Addiction, researchers point out  that “craving has been conceptualized as reflecting a drug-acquisitive state which motivates drug use” — in other words, obsession leads to compulsion, and if an individual is consistently surrounded by people, places and things that can trigger a craving, it can be difficult — if not impossible — to establish a foundation of addiction recovery.
As Bella Lindauer points out in an article for the addiction and recovery website The Fix , those triggers can come from “people I used to associate with to get high with or buy drugs from. Places I used to go to get dope or get high. Things I used to do to get high or use drugs. I have had to identify and eliminate or find coping skills so that they couldn’t effect my recovery.” However, if you seek drug and alcohol treatment outside of the community in which you live, those triggers take care of themselves. If you’re wondering, ‘Should I go to rehab away from home?,” distancing yourself from people, places and things that could trigger you is certainly a worthwhile reason.
‘Should I go to Rehab Away From Home?’ Avoiding Temptation
Let’s be honest: Getting clean and sober isn’t easy. Despite the amenities of a quality drug and alcohol treatment center — safe, comfortable medical detox; a staff with personal understanding of addiction and recovery issues; modest and comfortable accommodations; etc. — there will be some level of discomfort, because you’re dealing with a complete and total reset of your body, mind and spirit. Addiction and alcoholism are diseases that have affected you for years or even decades, and new coping skills aren’t going to replace your desire to drink or use overnight. That can lead to frustration, anxiety and even hopelessness — which will all pass, especially with the support and encouragement of understanding staff members, but in the moment, it can lead to a decision to leave treatment A.M.A., which means “Against Medical Advice.”
According to the website GoodTherapy , “The percentage of people in mental health facilities who leave against medical advice ranges from 3% to 51%, with an average of 17%.” However: “People who leave rehab early may not have acquired the skills necessary to maintain sobriety. Even if detox is completed, long-term recovery depends on additional factors including individual counseling, group therapy, nutrition, and building a post-rehab support system. Relapse is much more likely among individuals who discharge against medical advice.”
However — if you leave town to seek treatment at a facility away from home, you’re much less likely to go through with your decision to leave. After all, if you have to travel by plane or bus to get back to your hometown, then chances are good you’ll have second thoughts, take stock of the dangers of leaving A.M.A. and begin to reconsider your decision. Most of the time, a matter of postponing your decision overnight is enough to help you think clearly, and if you have to wait until arrangements are made for you to return home, then you’ll most likely talk yourself out of leaving. This is yet another reason “yes” is best answer to your question, “Should I go to rehab away from home?”
A Change of Scenery Might Do You Good
One of the biggest obstacles to recovery is shame — but at the same time, according to Owen Flanagan of Duke University’s Department of Philosophy , it can also help the healing process: “Feeling shame for addiction is not a mistake. It is part of the shape of addiction, part of the normal phenomenology of addiction, and often a source of motivation for the addict to heal.”
However, it’s difficult to shed the yoke of shame when everything reminds you of your disease and the decisions you made to sustain it. A drug and alcohol treatment center away from home will at least provide you with a chance to start fresh in a new city, where the landmarks, climate and landscape are all different. You’ll be able to address the wreckage you left back home without feeling stuck in the middle of it, so that when you complete your stay at rehab, you’ll return home to deal with it as a stronger, more confident individual with a recovery plan in place to keep you sober.
A Surefire Method of Anonymity
One of the principles of 12 Step recovery, upon which the recovery of many addiction and alcoholism treatment programs is based, is anonymity: In other words, addicts and alcoholics who gather in 12 Step meetings agree to keep one another’s confidence. After all, a public figure might very well avoid meetings altogether if that individual is convinced that others in attendance will spread word of his or her membership in that particular group.
In rehab, you’ve got the added layer of protection by HIPAA — the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which safeguards patient privacy in all health care settings. What this means is that absolutely no one will know you’re at a particular facility unless you’ve given facility administrators express permission to disclose that knowledge — to a relative, let’s say. We can’t disclose your presence in treatment to anyone without your consent, so your privacy is guaranteed.
However, many drug and alcohol treatment centers take patients on outings — to local parks, on nearby hiking trails, to outside recovery meetings. A reputable center doesn’t emblazon its vans with business logos, but if you’re at a facility in your hometown, chances are greater that one of those outings may expose you to someone you know. You don’t have to talk to them, and we’ll make sure you’re protected from any outside contact that you don’t wish to engage in, but sometimes, seeing someone you’d rather not see is unavoidable.
That, of course, is another reason to consider going away for addiction and alcoholism treatment if you’re wondering, “Should I go to rehab away from home?” If you’re in a city several hours away from your community, chances are almost nonexistent you’ll run into someone you know. Going to treatment out of town is another way of ensuring your privacy, if that’s of great importance to you.
‘Should I Go to Rehab Away From Home?’ If the Best Is Away from Home, Then Yes!
Sometimes, the need to leave town for treatment is based on the quality of the rehabilitation facilities in your area. Consider the principles of effective treatment, as outlined by the National Institute on Drug Abuse , and take stock of whether the facility you’re considering closest to home meets your needs … or if you need to widen your search:
- “To be effective, treatment must address the individual’s drug abuse and any associated medical, psychological, social, vocational, and legal problems. It is also important that treatment be appropriate to the individual’s age, gender, ethnicity, and culture.”
- “Research indicates that most addicted individuals need at least 3 months in treatment to significantly reduce or stop their drug use and that the best outcomes occur with longer durations of treatment.”
- “Behavioral therapies — including individual, family, or group counseling — are the most commonly used forms of drug abuse treatment.”
- “An individual's treatment and services plan must be assessed continually and modified as necessary to ensure that it meets his or her changing needs.”
It’s important to thoroughly research any facility you’re considering, and to inquire about additional information that a facility’s website doesn’t discuss. For example: Does the facility offer dual diagnosis treatment for co-occurring psychiatric issues like depression or bipolar disorder? Is there any sort of fitness therapy available to help rehabilitate the body? Does the facility offer trauma therapy? Is there an interactive family therapy program? Most importantly, is a facility in network with your health insurance plan?
Many drug and alcohol treatment centers meet some of these conditions, but one that provides them all is a special place indeed — and if the only strike against seeking help there is that it’s a few hours away, then distance shouldn’t even be a concern. “Should I go to rehab away from home?” When the rehab in question is the best fit for your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs, the answer is unequivocal:
Yes, because doing so may be reset button you need to stop drinking and using, lose the desire to do so and find a new way to live.