When it’s time for treatment, you may often consider convenience first. But the truth is, change is a higher priority. Your first inclination may be to find a center close to home, but there are some very sound reasons for seeking treatment out of state for yourself or a loved one. Treatment professionals often recommend choosing a program far from home. Here are a few reasons why:
- You get a fresh start. Pursuing treatment in another geographical area provides a physical “fresh start” as well as a mental one. A new location allows you to move forward without constantly being reminded of past mistakes. Being just around the corner may seem like a good idea initially, but the goal is long-term recovery, not short-term convenience. A new environment allows patients to more easily focus on the goals of recovery and healing. Traveling to a new location, especially a pleasant one, can feel, in some respects, like a vacation. A new and relaxing environment can help balance the work of recovery and make the entire experience less challenging and more enjoyable. Although there are regulations that ensure the privacy of patients in addiction treatment, some people are able to relax more when they are in treatment far from home, because they feel more hidden from people they know. In addition, a completely new environment can signal to the brain that other things are also new.
- You face fewer distractions. A new place far from home doesn’t allow for as many distractions. You won’t run into “friends” who are also seeking treatment and loved ones can be involved in the process in a safe, regimented way. Seeking help is a life-changing decision and ditching old, harmful patterns is necessary. That’s much easier to do with a change of scenery. Also, traveling for treatment makes it harder, on a purely practical level, for patients to continue using drugs or alcohol. They are far from dealers or familiar liquor stores that are part of their addiction and substance use history.
- You can avoid triggers more easily. In a new location, there are no memories of past substance abuse. You’re not near any locations or neighborhoods that are triggers. There are no old groups of friends that you’re tempted to track down. When patients travel, they can no longer rely on old friendships, and they are placed in environments where new bonds are formed. This allows patients to begin to experience healthy relationships and learn how to build them. In a faraway location, you have the freedom to truly focus on you and your recovery, and that’s what the process should be all about.
- You can curb impulsive behavior. When patients attend rehab close to home, it is easier for them to follow through on an impulsive decision to leave when the program gets difficult. Remaining in rehab for an adequate length of time is vital to ultimate success. A 2004 publication by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration notes that increased length of stay in treatment is associated with improved outcomes, including abstinence from drugs, a better employment situation and a decrease in criminal behavior. This makes traveling ideal for the treatment and recovery process.
- You may find a better fit. While you may know of programs close to home, it doesn’t mean those facilities are the best fit for you. Treatment programs vary – they offer different specialties, clinicians and experiences. Finding one that meets your unique needs is key.
Most people seeking help for addiction don’t initially plan to travel for treatment, but once they do, they see the benefits almost immediately. Treatment is a short time in the much longer process of recovery. Doing it right will give you the foundation you need for long-term sobriety and a happy, healthy future.