Traveling for Treatment

Addiction treatment facilities aren’t hard to find. In fact, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there are more than 14,500 facilities in the United States that specialize in providing help for people with addictions to drugs, alcohol, or both. That means it’s likely that people who have addictions can find the help they need right in their own backyards. Since facilities are so common, it’s relatively easy for anyone to find a facility that could help.

But the treatment facility that’s close to home isn’t always the right spot for long-term healing. By expanding the search just a little bit and focusing on issues of health rather than issues of geography, families just might find that they uncover new avenues to health that could have a deep and lasting impact.

Why Travel?

At one point, it was a little usual for anyone to hop on an airplane and travel across the country. Tickets were expensive, and people just didn’t feel that quick travel was worth the expense. In today’s world, it’s incredibly common for people to hop on airplanes. In 2014 alone, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, there were more than 497,000,000 passengers on airline flights. It’s quite possible that some of these people were jetting away to get help for their addictions.

Addiction therapies don’t come in a one-size-fits-all format. Instead, facilities often tailor their offerings in order to help a specific group of people. These facilities might specialize in providing care for:

  • Veterans
  • GLBT clients
  • Women
  • Parents

Facilities might also expand their suite of offerings in order to deal with multiple issues at the same time. In addition to focusing on addiction, these facilities might provide therapies that can assist with mental illnesses or with physical ailments. These dual diagnosis programs can be of great help, as they allow people to really get to the root of their addictions. Once they know why they’re tempted to medicate with drugs, and once they handle that underlying trigger, they could gain control over an addiction in a way they never thought possible before.

For people who want a specialized type of care, travel might be necessary. They might not be able to find a facility anything like this in the cities in which they live. By traveling, they might tap into resources they don’t have access to at home.

Similarly, some people enjoy the idea of breaking with home and work in order to heal. For these people, traveling allows them to put distance between themselves and the triggers that lead to recurrent drug use. While they’re away, they’re not tempted to walk out and return to life as they once knew it. Travel gives them the fresh start they need in order to make lasting changes that can lead to long-term sobriety.

Important Notes About Traveling for Treatment

At one point, people who received care for an addiction often paid for that care out of their own pockets. According to the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, much of that changed with the passage of the health care law. That legislation made health insurance more affordable for a lot of people, and it ensured that insurance plans had coverage options for addiction care. Now, it’s not unusual for people who need addiction care to use their insurance plans to cover at least some of the cost.

Some insurance plans restrict coverage options to a geographic area close to the one in which the person lives. That could make it difficult to pay for care with insurance if travel is involved. But many addiction treatment programs are happy to work with insurance plans in order to get people the coverage they need. That could be a big relief to families who hope to travel with insurance.

Also, it’s important to remember that the facility a person chooses isn’t the only thing that’s responsible for that person’s success. For example, in a study in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, experts said that recovery in people with schizophrenia was often closely tied to a person’s inner traits, including their personality and sense of resilience. While the right program can certainly help, and travel might make the right program easier to enter, people will still need to work hard in order to get the most out of the programs they choose.

Going Home Again

If people do choose to travel for treatment, they’ll need to work with the facility officials in order to pull together a home transition plan. Addiction care isn’t something a person can complete and simply forget about. It’s something that people will need to keep working on, day after day and year after year, and much of that work takes place when people go home again.

For example, in a study in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, experts found that 79 percent of people who used Alcoholics Anonymous resources at a high rate were still sober 12 months later. Tapping into ongoing care is seen as one of the best ways to make sure that addiction recovery keeps progressing.

Learn More

People who travel for care will need to pull together these long-term followup plans before they leave the facility in which they got sober. Counselors can play a big role in making that happen. They might get in touch with local professionals who can handle touchup counseling sessions, and they might share files with those pros so that care can happen in an uninterrupted manner. They might also help patients to discover local support group meetings, so they’ll get that care, too.

When the person returns home, the staff of the facility might stay in touch via phone or email. The facility might send out periodic letters and words of encouragement, while checking in with the new team scheduled to handle the person’s recovery.

Either of these programs could be a good way to make sure the person’s recovery stays on track, even when the travel back home has been completed.


If you’d like to know more about how traveling for treatment can help your recovery, and you’d like to find out how these programs might work, please call us at the number at the top of the page. We’re happy to help.

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