Three Important Reasons Why Traveling for Rehab Works

Travel Health

Three Important Reasons Why Traveling for Rehab Works

Travel Health

Traveling for drug and alcohol rehab isn’t a new practice. However, it’s something that has come into its own in the past decade. Dallas Drug Treatment Centers, a substance rehab directory service in North Texas, reports that a substantial and growing number of inquiries come from out of state, underlining the increasing popularity of the practice even in locations that are not known for medical tourism.

While there are several reasons that people travel for rehab, in most cases it boils down to access to specific treatments, better early relapse prevention, and some specific mental health benefits. Let’s explore these reasons below:

The patient gets access to a wider range of treatments

Treating addiction can be an extremely complex process and one that usually requires a good deal of personalization to be effective. In many cases, traveling may be mandatory if the patient wants access to the best treatment possible for their specific case.

This is even more important in cases where the patient has multiple co-morbidities, which are fairly common among people with substance use issues. There simply may be no local programs or facilities that could address that addresses all the patient’s most pressing needs.

Given that treating co-occurring physical and psychiatric issues often helps resolve substance use disorders, traveling for rehab should always be considered when no local options exist to treat these.

It can effectively stop deadly early relapses

The early phase of recovery is usually the toughest on most patients. It’s during this time that cravings are at their strongest. Cravings will remain even after their initial detox and withdrawal management. If the patient has a particularly serious disorder, they may look for drugs or alcohol almost as soon as they leave the detox center.

Cravings for drugs and alcohol can remain even after detox because the prolonged use of addictive substances creates defective pathways in the brain that make the individual feel uncomfortable when they cease using substances for too long.

Even if the patient had fully detoxed and no traces of the substances were left in the body, these connections can remain indefinitely. Meanwhile, it may take months or years before the brain finally creates new, secure connections that bypass these drug-induced ones.

In the meantime, the recovering individual is acutely vulnerable to an early relapse. If their body has already detoxed, taking drugs at this stage can heighten the risk of a lethal overdose, particularly when opioids are involved.  These issues can be especially problematic if the patient chooses a local rehab program over one that’s located elsewhere. Some residential rehab programs will not hold unwilling patients and outpatient programs have no way of controlling patient movements outside the facility.

What this all means is that relapse rates in local rehabs can be quite high. People also usually find it much easier to source illicit drugs in their hometown, given that they will already have the necessary connections to source them. The more determined ones will also be more able to smuggle contraband into facilities in their hometown than they would in facilities in other places.

By going with a rehab located in another state or country, the recovering individual will be detached from the network that allows them to source illicit drugs. Simply leaving the program will also be more difficult. These additional complications to sourcing substances can buy the patient more time to heal and get over their most powerful cravings.  Choosing a rehab center located away from one’s hometown will not guarantee that the individual cannot source drugs or alcohol. However, it can be an incredibly effective way of putting up barriers to an early relapse.

Traveling for rehab can give everyone a clean break

Going through the trials and tribulations of drugs or alcohol and getting treated for them all in the same place may not provide recovering individuals enough of a clean break from the cycle of addiction. This is even more true if the patient goes to an outpatient program, as they will probably encounter the emotional triggers that led to their substance misuse on a daily basis.

The same is true to a certain extent for the family members of the affected individual. Seeing a spouse, parent, or child undergo drastic changes or becoming abusive because of substance misuse is an incredibly traumatic experience. In many cases, these family members will need to receive counseling and therapy to better process the experience. If the affected individual goes to rehab in a different place, it may provide the mental separation and space needed to better work on their own recovery.

What’s more, moving away allows all parties involved to be better separated from their emotional triggers. This may allow the patient to more effectively focus on their therapy and recovery, rather than on the fix they know they can get just outside a local rehab facility’s walls. For the family members, the separation may help them with their emotional regulation, which may help them to play a more effective role in future family therapy and workshop sessions.


Traveling for rehab is not just a fad. The rise in the practice has a lot to do with some very real benefits for an individual with drug or alcohol use disorder, particularly during early recovery. This isn’t to say, however, that everyone should travel for rehab. As always, weigh your options with a qualified mental health professional before deciding to commit to such a move. Good luck, and be well!

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