Are the Air-miles Worth it? Looking into Local and Destination Rehabs

“Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.”

Anita Desai

A new chapter in your life

In this article, we’ll explore both local and destination rehabs and factors to consider before deciding on the best possible options to suit personal circumstances. Attending a private treatment clinic should ideally be a life-changing experience. It takes enormous courage for an alcoholic, drug addict, or an individual with an eating disorder to ask for help and then follow through on their decision by choosing a treatment centre to kickstart this process. There are several factors to consider, from personal and professional obligations, to how to use valuable time out most effectively (which could be for a month or sometimes, longer). All of this, at a time when we’re likely to be feeling particularly distressed and exposed, when even the simplest of tasks and decisions can feel overwhelming. At Addcounsel, our world-class team of clinicians and team know how difficult this first step is.

Drug and alcohol addictions are chronic brain disorders which left untreated perpetuate a strong resistance to seeking help to uncover the emotional and psychological factors that led to an addiction in the first place. A universal obstacle to seeking and receiving help is denial around the addiction. Even after a few weeks or months of abstinence from alcohol addiction or other addictive behaviours, the denial around the consequences of one’s past behaviour associated with the addiction can creep back in. Once an individual has made up their mind and checks into one of our discreet clinics in London, change has already begun. It’s a pivotal step forward.

What to expect when travelling to a residential clinic

Typically, the client will be taken through all arrangements to ensure everything goes smoothly and to give any reassurance necessary at this sensitive time. The experience will vary depending on whether the client has self-referred to a local clinic, or made the decision to put distance between themselves and their habitual environment by travelling to a remote location. Regardless of whether the decision has been made to stay local or travel offshore for treatment, the same arrangements and planning will need to be put in place to ensure the smooth running of family and professional affairs for the duration of the period of treatment.

At Addcounsel, we’ve worked with clients who are relatively local to our clinics in Chelsea and Knightsbridge in the UK, as well as individuals from the UAE/Middle East, and from all over the world. Regardless of where the client is travelling from, making sure they know what to expect when they arrive is something that will be discussed in detail beforehand. We often arrange for a Chauffeur to collect clients whether it be locally or from the airport and if necessary, highly trained security for those in the public eye, profiled statespersons, or those from legacy families who require additional services.  

A common concern before entering a clinic is the impact on the family, especially if the client has a young family to consider, or a disabled, or sick child. A mother with young offspring will find this particularly difficult; additional planning and support strategies will be required to ensure the smoothest possible transition from the home environment to the calm of a clinical setting, where the only focus will be on her. This scenario can stir up very intense feelings and emotions, and in some cases has been a deterrent to following through on a rehabilitation programme. Our team at Addcounsel recognises how challenging it can be from an emotional perspective, and so we go to great lengths to make certain that the transition is as seamless as possible.

Although most ultra-wealthy families will employ reliable staff to assist with personal planning, leaving one’s loved ones for thirty days to go into treatment will feel entirely different from going on a business trip for a month. For some, it can be a highly emotionally charged experience, but with competent and compassionate staff and clinicians, a sense of reassurance, relief and optimism can be established surprisingly quickly. This, of course, depends on the clinic and it’s approach to recovery.

Stay local or travel afar?

The conversation around the pros and cons of local or destination rehabs has been widely discussed among mental health clinicians in the addictions sector for many years. At Addcounsel, we recognised a long time ago that geography can impact a person’s mood and how they view themselves, favourably or otherwise.

In an article published by New York University (originally published in Nature Neuroscience) titled New and Diverse Experiences Linked to Enhanced Happiness, New Study Shows it reports: “New and diverse experiences are linked to enhanced happiness, and this relationship is associated with greater correlation of brain activity, new research has found.” In the paper, Catherine Hartley, an assistant professor in New York University’s Department of Psychology and one of the paper’s co-authors wrote on her findings: “Our results suggest that people feel happier when they have more variety in their daily routines—when they go to novel places and have a wider array of experiences.” Her co-author, Aaron Heller, an assistant professor in the University of Miami’s Department of Psychology added: “Collectively, these findings show the beneficial consequences of environmental enrichment across species, demonstrating a connection between real-world exposure to fresh and varied experiences and increases in positive emotions.”

Establishing whether one will most likely be more comfortable in a local setting for treatment or whether a complete change of environment is required is an important part of deciding which clinic to check into and its location. This is a very personal choice, and an excellent professional clinic will always encourage a client to go with the option, which is most suited to them, even if that means suggesting they explore alternative treatment locations/regimes.

Let’s look at some of the pros of staying local:

  • Ease of access/reduced travel time for family members when it comes to visiting. This is particularly appealing for clients with young families to consider, although a clean break from all family ties is often necessary
  • Less time spent travelling to the clinic
  • Depending on the patient’s personality, a feeling of still being connected to family and community through geographic proximity can be helpful, allowing the individual to settle quickly into the setting of the treatment centre
  • In some cases, treatment at home can be arranged through a home detox, and this might be the best option if, for example, overlooking house staff whilst caring for a sick or elderly relative

Let’s look at the pros of a destination rehab:

  • Many individuals report feeling vulnerable and, in some cases, triggered (related to PTSD/complex PTSD) in their home/local environment. A complete change of scene with no previous associations or emotional connections can greatly reduce such emotions and sensations
  • Provides the opportunity to completely focus on treatment, free from distractions while minimising any potential for external interference
  • Depending on the individual, travelling to the other side of the country, or going abroad for treatment may lift their mood and provide a much-needed fresh perspective on their life
  • Being in a new environment for a month or two or longer, with competent and compassionate staff can make it easier to establish new habits
  • Travelling to a destination rehab provides both an opportunity to start the process of recovery and heal from an addiction or eating disorder, whilst at the same time experiencing a new location or country, free from unpleasant or distressing emotional reminders. Successfully completing a full course of treatment at the clinic and committing to a tailor-made aftercare programme, having also discovered a new location can be a life-changing and unforgettable experience for the individual embarking on their recovery journey

Things to consider when traveling to a clinic

Addressing an addiction and/or multiple addictive behaviours or arresting an eating disorder can seem like a tough prospect and the right course of action may feel bewildering, but it’s possible with the right support and willingness for a patient to follow through successfully on a recovery programme. Whether an individual decides to stay local or visit a destination clinic, there are several things to remember which can apply to both scenarios. Let’s explore:

Reach out

Try not to feel self-conscious when calling the broker or representative at the clinic when considering the option of checking in for treatment. A great clinic will employ genuine, caring, compassionate, and highly experienced staff who will be happy to talk through your situation and options with you and offer reassurance/allay any feelings of anxiety and uncertainty you may have.

Try to avoid self-condemnation

Being hard on yourself will serve no purpose at such a challenging time for you and your loved ones. Addiction/ mental illness is a medical issue, not a moral one and has nothing to do with lack of willpower or “weakness”. The renowned National Institute on Drug Abuse: Advancing Addiction Science (USA) clearly states (as do many medical governing bodies): “Addiction is defined as a chronic, relapsing disorder characterised by compulsive drug seeking and use despite adverse consequences. It is considered a brain disorder, because it involves functional changes to brain circuits involved in reward, stress, and self-control.” Addiction is a medical issue, and so directing vitriol inwards or harsh self-condemnation prior to entering a rehab won’t help at all.

Utilise your assigned medical team

If in doubt about physical and emotional symptoms, talk to the medical team in the rehab. Panic attacks and very low moods are extremely common and can be stabilised prior to or upon arrival at the clinic. The key is to be open and honest with the medical team assigned to your recovery treatment plan and to never suffer in silence.

Contact us today

When you check in to our discreet central London rehabilitation facility, you’ll be embarking upon a personalised treatment programme tailored to your individual needs. We offer luxury private accommodation for the duration of your stay, with 24/7 access to a team of world-class experts headed by one of the UK’s leading psychiatrists.

Our multidisciplinary team boasts a wealth of knowledge and expertise on every aspect of your recovery. Dedicated psychiatrists, nutritionists, therapists, and addiction specialists will create a comprehensive process designed specifically for you. Our focus isn’t just on your mind; we understand the important roles that genetics, nutrition and lifestyle can play in the development of drug addiction and alcohol dependency, and in the process of recovery.

Experts will assess the factors that led to your addiction or mental health condition, leverage the world’s most extensive menu of therapy services to help you recover, and create a robust aftercare programme to support re-integration into your family and lifestyle. Our bespoke and private treatment takes place in an intimate, one-to-one setting―no groups, no other patients. At Addcounsel’s luxury rehab and mental health clinic in the UK, your comfort, safety, and privacy are our priority. Contact us today to start your recovery journey.


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