Addiction can be a long, winding road filled with traps, dead ends, and false starts to stopping substance use for good. This is why it is significant when a person decides to enter a facility to address their substance use disorder with professional treatment. 

It is important to stay motivated and see the decision through, so the next big thing to consider is deciding where treatment should take place. There are nearly 15,000 places in the United States that offer treatment for substance use disorders (SUDs), according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), so it helps to have some facilities of interest in mind. 

However, before specific locations can be considered, one must first figure out if they want to complete a local program in their area or go out of state for a treatment program. There are pros and cons for each choice, and several are outlined below. 

It is important to note that treatment is most effective when it targets the specific needs of the person entering the program. Addiction recovery is not a sprint; it is a marathon (or two) for many people, so it is important to have patience with the process. Treatment is an investment of time and money, so making the right choice is important.

What a Quality Treatment Program Should Offer

No matter where treatment occurs, the chosen facility should offer certain therapies, programs, and services aligned with the medical community’s view of a sound treatment program. Such programs should offer placements along the American Society of Addiction Medicine’s continuum of care. You can always check with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which offers guidance in this area.

Quality facilities offer:

  • Medical detox
  • Courses covering addiction and relapse prevention
  • Evidence-based therapies for individuals and groups
  • Life skills training
  • Ongoing care

As you look through your options, make sure the facilities have the proper accreditation. They also should be in good standing where they are located. Based on the things SAMHSA says a facility should offer, ask the following questions before deciding:

  • Does the facility use evidence-based practices that have been scientifically proven to treat substance use disorders effectively?
  • Does it understand the role the family plays in their loved one’s recovery?
  • Does it offer medication-assisted treatment for substance use disorders involving alcohol and opioids, including heroin? Does it use medications approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)?

If you’re not sure, you can always ask the facility any questions.

Pros and Cons of Staying Local for Treatment

Below are some things to consider when weighing the benefits and drawbacks of staying home for rehab. Considering these points might make it easier to choose the option that is best for you.

Pros to Local Treatment

*It is easier to access your support system. Your family, friends, and others in your support network will be close by to cheer you on as you address your substance use disorder. Depending on the facility, they might be able to visit you during your time in a residential program, or you can see them regularly if you are participating in an outpatient program that allows you to live at home while in rehab. 

Family therapy will be easier for your relatives to attend with you if you are in the area. Many facilities encourage the family’s involvement to help their loved one in overcoming addiction. Families also have issues to address, as some lie at the root of their loved one’s struggles.

Being in touch with family gives many people the strength they need to see their treatment program to the end. Adolescents and younger people in a rehabilitation program can especially benefit from knowing their family is there for them, particularly in therapy, according to NIDA.

*Treatment costs could be lower. Finances are a key factor to consider when considering whether one should go away or stay home for treatment. If you are weighing which is better, be sure to calculate the costs of room and board, food, transportation, and more of going to a treatment center that is not nearby. You will need somewhere to live during your time away, and the costs of maintaining your everyday life while in rehab can add up quickly. 

If finances are a concern for you or your loved one, take a look at options in your area or near your area. Options in your state might even be less expensive than entering a program in another state. Your health insurance provider may also be able to help you locate facilities that offer quality substance addiction treatment at the local level. 

*The transition to life after rehab may be easier. Once you have completed your rehab program, you will already be home to continue your recovery with aftercare services. These services are designed to make the transition to life after treatment easier. With the support of family already in place, you will apply what you have learned in rehab and practice those skills daily. Many find that the real challenge begins once it is time to rejoin society full time. 

Aftercare programs and services can bridge this transition, as it can be overwhelming. They offer help with finding transition housing that promotes sobriety, employment, counseling and therapy, support groups, and more. Aftercare programs also can help you find new friends who can keep you focused on growing in your recovery. Some may even be on their path to recovery, so you can help each other.

Cons to Local Treatment

As with many things, there are unfavorable reasons why staying local for treatment might not be the best fit. 

*There may be distractions at home. One of the main drawbacks of going to a local program for addiction recovery is some people find it challenging to stay committed to their program when surrounded by the places, people, and things that led them to use substances in the first place. People in this situation must have a strong will to see their addiction recovery program through without giving in to the negative influences around them.

It could be tempting to pick up bad habits when you see or keep in touch with the same people you used to use with. You may see your old dealer or remember places around the neighborhood where you engaged in substance use. It will be worth assessing how you would do in a rehab program either in or near these surroundings.

*Area treatment program options may be limited. The facilities where you live might not have the programs you need. In this case, you might want to consider options in nearby areas or other places in the state. You also might find that local treatment facilities have long waiting lists, so you might need to look elsewhere for programs.

*You may not have privacy. Staying at home for treatment could mean that others will know your business, which is something to consider. If you do not want your friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, or others knowing that you are in a local rehab, you may want to consider choosing a facility in an obscure location or one that is farther away.

Pros and Cons of Going Out of State for Treatment

There are benefits to leaving home and going to a facility in another state for treatment. Some are:

Pros to Going Out of State

*You can focus without distractions and negative influences. The promise of a new place can bolster the reality of starting fresh. When familiar sights and sounds are stripped away, you can focus more on the reasons you are receiving addiction treatment. A new place can give you the perspective you need to address your substance use disorder and encourage you to be honest about what needs to change and how you can change it. For some people, staying in a familiar environment where harmful behaviors occurred can defeat the purpose of recovery.

Family members discussing their addiction treatment options*You will have privacy. Confidentiality is important, as getting treatment for a substance use disorder is a private matter. Going away for treatment increases the chances that no one will know where you are or why you are there.

*It is harder to quit and give up on yourself. When you are many miles away from home, you might find it harder to pack up your things and leave. This reality can help you realize that you have to see your recovery through and that no one can do it but you. Out-of-state treatment helps many people see that a trip away makes them get clear about what they want out of life and themselves.

Cons to Out-Of-State Treatment

Out-of-state treatment is beneficial in many ways, but it is worth considering if going far away is the way to go.

*You will leave your support system at home. Phone calls, emails, texts, and snail-mail packages will help you manage the distance from your family. Still, if you feel like you will not be able to complete a program without having them nearby, you might want to consider staying local for treatment or finding a facility close to where you live.

*Out-of-state treatment comes with higher costs. If you go out of state for rehab, you will have to ensure your room and board, food, and other related expenses are covered. You also might have to cover treatment that your insurance provider does not. It is wise to check your finances to know what is and is not affordable before packing your bags. Also, consider that an extended absence from your job could affect your income or take you away from obligations you must take care of.

*A new place might give you the push to move away for good. Many people decide to leave home after having some time away to recover from negative influences and habits. If you have been thinking it is time to call someplace else home, an out-of-state treatment program can provide the clarity you need to get moving in that direction. Consider it a test run of what it would be like to start over again in a place that feels right.

Before You Decide…

As you weigh the pros and cons of local versus out-of-state treatment, determine what you want and need out of your treatment program. If you can get those things at home, it might be worth staying in your community and attending a facility there. If you are looking for a new start, then an out-of-state facility might be where you start your new beginning.

Whichever you choose, prepare yourself for the long road ahead. Also, give yourself enough time to be in treatment for as long as you need it. Research supports spending at least 90 days (three months) in a rehab program for substance use, according to NIDA.

Ongoing care for a substance use disorder is encouraged as relapse is possible because the brain is often changed by long-term addiction, but the condition is treatable.

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