Traveling and Planning for Rehab in California

We review the cost of living and rehab-related expenses in California in this article. Get the facts and make an educated decision. More here.

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ARTICLE OVERVIEW: When deciding to travel to California to attend rehab, there are a number of pros and cons to be considered. In this article, we look at the real costs of living and staying in California for both long and short periods of time. At the end, we invite you to ask further questions.


Why Travel for Rehab

When it comes to getting the right treatment for addiction, it can help to get out of your old stomping grounds. In fact, many people end up traveling to places far away from home to go to rehab. But why should you spend the extra money? Does traveling out-of-state really make a big difference?

The truth of the matter is this: People who put their recovery first are more likely to be successful. Sometimes, all it takes is a new environment.

You might feel inclined to seek out an outpatient program nearby. Yes, going to rehab near your home can be more convenient in terms of location. But is it really better for your recovery?

Studies over the past few decades have looked into the matter and find that to be effective, treatment must address the individual’s drug abuse and any associated medical, psychological, social, vocational, and legal problems. [1]

An inpatient rehab includes all of these aspects of treatment … and gets you away from the environment in which you’ve been using drugs or alcohol. Plus, you probably need a break from the responsibilities and the distractions of their home environment. Inpatient rehabs also encourage a strong daily routine. With 24-7 around-the-clock supervision, you’re able to get your eating and sleeping patterns back on track.

The purpose of this article is to show you all the advantages of traveling to California for rehab. We’ll discuss the overall budget you’ll need and lay out a plan for your stay. If you want to visit a loved one in a California rehab, we also review accommodations and what you can expect from your visit. At the end of the article, we invite you to call us for help or any questions you may have. We always have an operator available on our hotline.

The Statistics

Are you already set on going to rehab in California? If so, feel free to move onto the next section. If you’re not convinced or simply desire to know more, we invite you to continue reading!

To begin, we’ve gathered some shocking statistics taken by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the NSDUH. According to the 2017 NSDUH, it’s estimated that 10.6 percent of the nation’s population used illicit drugs in 2016. That’s 1 in 10 people, or 28.6 million. Out the 28.6 million people, an estimated 21 million were in need of substance abuse treatment. [2]

As you can see, you’re not alone in your struggle with addiction.

In California, the annual average of people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol or both are around national averages. In 2014-2015, about 2,122,000 individuals aged 12 or older, or 6.6% of all individuals in this age group had an alcohol use disorder in the past year. [3] During that same time period, of the Californians enrolled in rehab on a single day in the year:

  • 45.2% were in treatment for a drug problem only.
  • 16.5% were in treatment for an alcohol problem only.
  • 38.3% were in treatment for both drug and alcohol problems.

We want you to know that help is available. Many people, like yourself, are actively seeking it out. If you’re struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, it’s important to seek treatment. A rehabilitation facility increases your chances of getting better. If you’d like to learn more, call our 24/7 hotline. Our compassionate hotline operators are waiting for your call.

PROs and CONs

When you’ve made the decision to go to rehab, you’re one step closer to recovery. Now you need to decide where you want to fulfill this commitment. Moving to California for addiction treatment comes with its ups and downs.

PRO #1: A Change in Scene

California can be a great location for rehab due to its warm weather and easy going atmosphere. Though it may be initially difficult to get out of our comfort zone, a new environment can really make a difference in your recovery. When you’re away from the places and people who encourage addiction, you have less desire to pick up your habit again. And, you can start fresh.

PRO #2: Increased Dedication

No matter where you decide to go to rehab, you’re going to have the desire to go back to old habits. This is normal, as most psychoactive drugs produce strong cravings upon cessation. [4] However, traveling to a new place can also strengthen a strong commitment. When you’ve traveled so far, this dedication naturally increases. Inevitably, you’ll meet new people and see new places and, with that, keep an optimistic sense about your recovery.

PRO #3: Privacy and Confidentiality

It’s understandable that people who enter rehab might not want acquaintances to know what they’re going through. By living temporarily in California, this confidentiality is guaranteed. Furthermore, you’ll be surrounded by new faces. So, you may feel more at ease discussing your problems with strangers than with people in your home community.

PRO #4: A Fresh Start

Relocating to California can be a gift. You’re giving yourself the opportunity to start a new life. By being away from family and friends and placing yourself in a new, warm, and sunny location, you have a chance at changing your perspective. California has a way of allowing you to change and redefine who you are!

CON# 1: Away from Loved Ones

The support offered by your family and friends is key. However, families should be integrated into the treatment process therapeutically. So, a reputable treatment center won’t let you have visitors until your 3rd or 4th week there. In effect, the distance you put between yourself and your loved ones is alsoimportant. Addiction recovery is an internal process that is treatment. This is something YOU need to motivate yourself to do. By the end of your stay at a California rehab, you and your family should be better prepared to move forward together.

CON #2: Out of Comfort Zone

Being far away from home is never easy. California is truly unique. Though this is exciting to some, it can be quite frightening to others. Especially to those who have never lived in a new place before. Yet, living in California for drug rehab can be a very freeing experience! By facing your fears, you’re allowing yourself to progress. You become a stronger individual and this in itself can truly be the reward you find in treatment.

CON #3: Cost

There’s no denying California is an expensive place. Whether it be living accommodations, gas, or the basic necessities you need, the Golden State just seems to be more expensive than everywhere else. Still, if you coordinate your money properly, it’s very possible. Understanding how much time you’re going to need and what you’re going to do to get there will allow you to better financial plan. Furthermore, the initial cost of rehab in California might just well be worth it. Especially if you consider all the money you’d spend on addiction itself for the years to come.

CON #4: Legal Complications

There are certain instances where people don’t have the ability to travel due to legal issues. For example, people on probation may not be allowed to leave their home state. However, if you’re working through the justice system, drug courts, and/or judges, you can ask for authorization to travel to another state for treatment. It’s important to consult an attorney on the matter. Or you can call us to learn more about the choices you have.

Travel to and from California

There are a number of ways to get to California from wherever you live in the country, including travel by car, bus, train, or airplane.

Car: If you’re curious as to how much a trip to California by car will cost, you can use this calculator presented by AAA for more information. It goes as far as to compare gas prices depending on where you are in the country.

Bus: Depending on where you are in the country, there are a number of different bus services which take you to and from California. For a schedule, route, and tickets, check out the Greyhound bus schedule.

Train: Depending on where you live, a train might be a viable option. You can get more information on scheduling, routes, and prices at Amtrack.

Airplane: The following flights were determined by a fare compare website. It should be noted, these prices may vary depending on whether or not you are flying during a low or high season. For example, you can expect prices to be much more expensive during the holidays. All of the following costs are based on round trip searches made in 2019:

  • New York, NY – Los Angeles – $244
  • New York, NY – Sacramento – $240
  • New York, NY – San Diego – $240
  • New York, NY – San Jose – $250
  • Chicago, IL – Los Angeles – $175
  • Chicago, IL – Sacramento – $270
  • Chicago, IL – San Diego – $220
  • Chicago, IL – San Jose – $270
  • Atlanta, GA – Los Angeles – $300
  • Atlanta, GA – Sacramento – $330
  • Atlanta, GA – San Diego – $250
  • Atlanta, GA – San Jose – $314

Average Cost of Living

Though the major cities are all relatively the same in price range, San Francisco is well-known for being the most expensive place in the country. You’ll notice the prices differ if you travel down the Pacific Coast and into Los Angeles. With that said, it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact cost of living you’ll run into as averages fluctuate depending where you are. But it comes to basic necessities, you can expect to pay the following:

  • One-bedroom rent: $1,600 monthly. The national average is $980.
  • Utilities: $90 monthly. The national average is $115.
  • Food: Variable cost depending on your eating.
  • Gas: $2.84 a gallon
  • Car insurance: $164 monthly or $1,960 annually. The national average is $910 annually.
  • Taxes: Income tax is 12.3% and sales tax is 7.5%.

Short Term Rentals

We’ll be dividing California into two sections: Northern and Southern California. To give you a sense of how much it costs to live in NorthCal, the average cost of living in the United States requires a median household income of $216,000. In Northern California, the average cost of living jumps to $548,100. [5]

Of course, your stay for rehabilitation won’t require you to spend as much as this. Still, these numbers really put into perspective how much more you’re paying for basic necessities; everything from a roof over your head to toiletry.

In Northern California, the average Airbnb prices for major cities are as follows:

  • Fresno: $1,350 a month or around $45 a day
  • Sacramento: $2,000 a month or around $70 a day
  • San Francisco: $3,450 a month or around $115 a day
  • San Jose: $3,300 a month or around $110 a day

SoCal also costs a lot. The following are the average Airbnb prices for major cities:

  • Irvine: $2,950 a month or around $98 a day
  • Laguna Beach: $2,800 a month or around $100 a day
  • Los Angeles: $3,800 a month or around $130 a day
  • San Diego: $3,200 a month or around $105 a day


If you plan on staying in Los Angeles, the average price for a hotel room per weeknight is $150.

If you plan on staying in San Diego, the average price for a hotel room per weeknight is $110.

If you plan on staying in San Jose, the average price for a hotel room per weeknight is $200.

Other Places to Stay

If you have family or friends living in CA, you might consider staying with them when traveling to the Golden State. This option can be cost effective and can be a great opportunity for you to catch up with those you haven’t seen in a while. However, be mindful that addiction is often a family disease. Stay only with family members that support you and your loved one in recovery.

If you’re on a tight budget, there’s another option: a hostel. These are much cheaper accommodations in comparison with a hotel. Furthermore, you’ll have the ability to meet new people and benefit from local info. Still, it should be noted that hostels aren’t always clean, you’ll most likely have to share a bathroom, and have little to no personal space.

Visiting a Loved One in Rehab

If you’re thinking about visiting a loved one in a CA rehab, your visit can be an opening. It’s important that your loved one feel emotionally support. By visiting them while they remain in treatment, you’re offering them inspiration to continue on with their recovery.

But what can you expect?

When you visit someone in rehab, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind. For one, it’s vital that you connect with the therapeutic team. This will often include a lead psychotherapist and support staff. You’ll want to learn about the treatment plan and how you can fit in to help. Not only can they offer you more information about your loved one’s progress but you can thank them for all the hard work they put in.

Then, you want to show up on time. Often, rehabs coordinate your visit with some kind of educational class or even family therapy. Showing up on time and perhaps with a small gift is much appreciated.
Once you’re with your loved one, make sure to continue encouragement through praise. Addiction recovery is a very difficult task for someone to handle and hearing they’re doing well can make a huge difference. Still, it should be noted you’ll want to stick to small talk.

If you begin getting into big discussions – especially family drama or how much treatment is costing – you’re going to find you’re going to be harming your loved one’s motivation to continue. In fact, you may even induce anxiety or other mental health conditions. Instead, keep talk small and positive.

REMEMBER: Recovery is all about living and accepting the moment “as is”. Your loved one is working day-by-day to get better. Discussion of the future can feel like pressure.

Your Questions

You’re not alone in your journey to beat addiction. Professional treatment is available and can help you overcome drug or alcohol dependence. Feel free to contact us via phone or email. We would love to talk with you about your battle…and how we can help.

We hope to have answered all your questions/concerns in about travel to California for rehab.

Still have more questions?

We invite you to ask them in the comments section below. If we do not know the answer to your particular question, we’ll gladly refer you to someone who can help. Still, we try to reply to each legitimate comment in a prompt and personal manner.

Reference Sources: [1] NIDA: Principles of Drug Addiction: A Research-Based Guide
[2] SAMHSA: 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health
[3] SAMHSA: Behavioral Health Barometer for California, Volume 4
[4] HHS Public Access: The clinical significance of drug craving
[5] Data Catalog
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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