Traveling for Treatment: The Benefits

If you’ve called to inquire about admissions, you’ve seen this firsthand. All the centers near you may have weeks-long or months-long waiting lists. If you’re motivated to get help now, why should you wait?

And even if the center near you offers care, travel still might be the best option for you. When you think about the risks you face, your home might seem too dangerous to house your delicate recovery.

man in tunnel

Triggers and Your Home

What causes a relapse? The answer to that question is complicated. Every person with an addiction issue has a litany of people, places, things, and thoughts that cause a buzz of cravings to begin in the brain. We call those things triggers.

As one addiction expert explains, a trigger is anything that reminds you of your addiction. Just as Pavlov’s dogs started to drool when they heard the dinner bell, your brain begins to crave your substance of choice when you’re exposed to your trigger.

Your home is littered with trigger landmines, including:

  • Walking into your kitchen on a sunny afternoon could remind you of a moment, months ago, when you poured your last shot of vodka.
  • Did your family members use drugs with you? Just seeing them at a certain moment could bring that memory flooding back.
  • Did you light your joints with the gas burners in the kitchen? Did you use your coffee table to cut up cocaine granules? Those objects could be triggers.
  • How many times did you walk to your dealer’s house? That sidewalk could become a major trigger for drug use.

Staying home means living with those reminders every day when you’re at your weakest point. After rehab, you’ll have new skills and techniques to draw on to keep a relapse away. When you’re new to recovery, that strength isn’t yours yet. Staying at home means subjecting yourself to pressures you’re not ready to handle.

traveling on bus

How Close Is Your Treatment Center?

Imagine that you’ve decided to stay at home while you recover. That means you’ll need to travel to your treatment facility multiple times each week. You’ll need to decide, again and again, to keep your appointments and walk through the doors.

Researchers say there’s a direct link between how far you must travel and how long you’ll stay in care. If you’re living at home and enrolled in outpatient treatment, you’ll find excuses to avoid a long trip. You might cite:

  • The bus route is inconvenient, or you can’t find someone to take you to your appointments.
  • Gas money, cab fares, and tips can add up.
  • A lunch date is scheduled, or you can’t find a sitter for your children. Those seem like exceptional reasons to skip a visit.
  • You’ve worked so hard for your recovery, and you deserve to sleep in for just one morning.

When you’re enrolled in an inpatient program far from home, your treatment team is always accessible. To get to your appointments, you’ll walk down the hall. All of those excuses you use at home just won’t work when your care is so easy to obtain.

Does Your Family Help or Harm?

Recovery isn’t a spectator sport, but it’s easier to maintain sobriety with a secure fan base. Role models are also crucial as you learn to navigate life without intoxication. Some families offer support and sobriety, and others just don’t have the same attributes.

People in recovery say it’s tough to live with a partner who keeps using. The after-dinner cocktail means nothing to those without an addiction, but to you, it’s a gateway to a binge measured in weeks. Even one sip sets you on that path, and it’s all too easy to swill the last dregs as you wash the glasses after dinner.

Traveling to an inpatient center means living in a sober environment. Temptations like this are banned. You’ll give yourself the space and grace to learn avoidance skills before you put them to the test.

Even if your family doesn’t use, they can retain habits that support your use. As Al-Anon explains, families can:

  • Explain poor choices made while you’re under the influence.
  • Care for you during intoxication and detox.
  • Buffer you from consequences of addiction.
  • Get substances for you when asked to do so.

Families can go through therapy to unlearn these codependent tactics. But until they do, they can inadvertently promote your relapse. Their habits seem natural and normal, and they just won’t see the need to change. Living with them can mean being supported right back into your addiction.

In treatment, you’ll live with people also striving for sobriety. They won’t support your addiction; they’ll help you to stop it. If you’re really hoping to get better — and help your family to do the same — walking away can be wise.

Your Treatment Is Personal

For many people, travel leads to a lasting sobriety that isn’t possible with at-home care. But you’re an individual with your own unique path to wellness. You owe it to yourself to explore all your options and learn all about your choices.

You are bound to find the program that’s right for you, your family, and your recovery. It’s time to start looking.

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