3 Reasons Why Traveling to Drug Rehab is Best

2 min read · 7 sections


Backpack and hat at the train station with a traveler

Is it better for a person to go to drug or alcohol rehab close to home or far away from home? In most cases, traveling to rehab is preferred over going to a place near where you live. While this may seem counterintuitive, expensive, and logistically challenging, in many cases, it’s the best decision.

Here are the 3 reasons to travel out of state for drug rehab.

1. Leaving Treatment Early Can Be Avoided

It’s not uncommon to want to leave treatment prematurely. In fact, feelings of wanting to bolt can come on as an overwhelming desire within the first few weeks of treatment. It usually happens because, for the first time, feelings emerge that can’t be numbed with a substance. Instead, these emotions have to be felt, processed, and dealt with, which, for some, might be incredibly uncomfortable. Feelings of fear, remorse, anger, or resentment may feel all-consuming, and in a fight-or-flight situation, some may choose to flee.

This is actually why many treatment professionals urge individuals to consider traveling for treatment (when possible)—to prevent them from going against medical advice (AMA) and leaving before treatment is complete.

Rehab is not jail; no one is forced to stay—though treatment staff will do everything in their power to discourage someone from leaving AMA.

That’s one of the reasons why attending rehab farther from home may be beneficial. Leaving is harder when there are logistics, like booking a flight and getting on a plane, involved. It’s not as easy as calling a ride and going home.

Leaving AMA Might Mean Forfeiting Insurance Coverage

Before hastily leaving rehab, you should definitely check with your health insurance policy. Some insurance plans won’t cover any part of treatment that’s not completed as a result of someone leaving AMA.

2. Being Far From Triggers and Stressors Can Be Beneficial

Putting some physical distance between the people, places, and situations that trigger your substance use can be beneficial; your home environment may not be conducive to recovery.

For some, traveling means a fresh start and the perfect way to begin a new, substance-free life. For others, it’s an escape from friends, locations, and other stressors and influences that lead them to misuse substances. Regardless of the reason, by physically removing yourself from the vicious cycle of addiction, you can allow yourself to fully focus on recovery.

3. Matching Every Person with the Best Treatment Center for Them

Just as no one individual is the same, no two treatment programs are identical. Effective treatment needs to be matched to your needs—and also your lifestyle.

If you or a loved one struggle with substance misuse or addiction, it’s important to first find a treatment center that meets your needs. Your primary care physician, mental healthcare provider, or other addiction treatment specialist can perform a thorough assessment and design a personalized treatment plan for you.

Beyond ensuring that the facility offers detox, inpatient care, and/or outpatient programs, you’ll want to confirm that a facility accepts your insurance (if that’s how you’re paying), check its accreditations, ask about client demographics, inquire about the average lengths of stay, find out what a typical day entails, review its amenities, and read other patient reviews.

Traveling and Legal Obligations

Going to rehab will always help a legal case. However, whether or not you can leave the state may depend on the situation. For instance, if you’re on probation while you await a court date, you may need to follow a specified protocol and/or receive approval for out-of-state travel for treatment.

Additionally, if you seek treatment while you’re out on bail, you may need to have the facility write a letter stating that you are attending treatment to excuse you from court appearances that may occur while you’re in rehab.

Some treatment centers have designated staff members to coordinate with the courts. If you’re interested in a specific program, ask for assistance in securing out-of-state treatment approval.

Traveling and Medical Conditions

Unfortunately, individuals with severe medical conditions that preclude them from traveling can’t—and shouldn’t—attend treatment out of state.

Considering Insurance Coverage When Traveling to Rehab

Some insurance providers consider out-of-state treatment out-of-network care, and therefore, may not cover it. In such cases, you may want to consider other ways to pay for treatment or find an in-network facility. Substance use treatment is considered an essential health benefit thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and is at least partially covered under most health insurance policies. To understand the specifics of your plan, call the number on the back of your card so you understand your options, where in-network facilities are located, and your out-of-pocket costs if you opt for an out-of-network treatment center.

Going to Treatment

When addiction is left untreated, it can lead to social, physical, and mental, consequences, including legal problems, relationship troubles, health issues, even death.

In 2021, more than 100,000 Americans died from a drug-related overdose.1 Another 46.3 million individuals aged 12 or older had a substance use disorder, the clinical term for a substance addiction, but only 4.1 million of them received any substance use treatment that year.2

If you or a loved one struggle with substance misuse or addiction, help—whether it’s nearby or farther away—is available. American Addiction Centers (AAC) has facilities nationwide. Call to speak to one of our compassionate and knowledgeable admissions navigators, who can listen to your story, answer your questions, explain your treatment options, verify your insurance coverage, and help you make travel plans to get to one of our facilities and start your recovery.

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