Destination Rehab: Why attend rehab away from home (in Thailand)?

5+ reasons why you might consider leaving your home country to attend a Destination Rehab. Think out-of-the-box!

minute read
By Paul Garrigan

Destination Rehabs – Can you find hope abroad?

Travelling to the other side of the world for rehab treatment might seem a bit self-indulgent, but there are some compelling reasons for why we might choose this option – it’s not just an excuse for a holiday. If we choose wisely, and we are sincere about wanting to change, it may be exactly what we need to break free of addiction.

More here on how seeking help for addiction from a “destination rehab” can be right for you. Then, we invite your questions or feedback in the comments section at the end.

Why select a Destination Rehab?

Health tourism has become a major source of revenue for Thailand. This industry grew by 15% in 2015 alone, and addiction treatment has contributed to this growth. In fact, the country has fast become a rehab destination of choice for people from all walks of life (not just backpackers and celebrities). Here, journalist, Cat Marnell, has written about her experience at such a rehab center in Thailand.

So, why would you want to travel all the way to Thailand for addiction treatment? Here are 5 possible reasons:

1. Lower costs

The high costs of addiction rehab treatment in the States and Europe has put help out of reach for many ordinary people. Many residential stays average about $20K per treatment episode of 28-30 days. However, SE Asia is significantly less expensive when it comes to mental health treatment.

In the case of our own treatment center, Hope Rehab’s rates are about $7000 per month. Hope charges $7000 for a 30 day program however many clients stay 2 or 3 months and get discounts. Some stay on as volunteers for much longer. The Hope concept is to provide affordable and effective addiction treatment for all those willing to make the journey.

2. A New Environment Helps Us Change Thought Patterns

One of the advantages of being in a new environment is it becomes easier to see life a different way. Being surrounded by familiar things triggers habitual patterns of thinking, but novelty can move the mind in new directions. Specifically, we need to change our frame of reference and adopt new:

  • Beliefs
  • Opinions
  • Coping strategies

How can a destination rehab really help us? When we begin addiction recovery, our current frame of reference will be one that supports drug abuse. Unless we get a new frame of reference, there is a high likelihood we will return to old behaviors or fall into new addictions. We need to be able to change our thinking.

Our frame of reference is supported by habitual thoughts so anything that allows us to see things differently is going to be helpful. For example, some of us can have an overly pessimistic view of life but even something as simple as a change of climate (e.g. going from a Northern European winter to sunny Thailand) can encourage us to see things in a more optimistic way.

3. A New Environment Makes Change Easier

Still, breaking free of addiction requires more than just stopping the addictive behavior. We need to adopt NEW ways of being. In this way, being in a new environment also means being away from the usual stresses and temptations that fuel the addictive behavior. This makes it easier to stay sober or clean in early recovery. Once we are stronger, we will then be in a better position to cope with our old environment.

4. An Easier Path Through Early Recovery

Having a good start in recovery increases your chances of success.

Breaking free of an addiction is always going to involve at least some discomfort. The body needs time to adjust to functioning without the chemicals we have been abusing, so there are likely to be some initial withdrawal symptoms. This can also be an intensely emotional time as the feelings we have been avoiding suddenly wake up from their chemical numbness. To make matters worse, we don’t have our usual coping strategy (i.e. alcohol or drugs) to turn to when things get hard.

As well as the unavoidable discomforts of early recovery, there are also other discomforts that could be avoided. This could include being in an uncomfortable environment (e.g. an overcrowded rehab), feeling unsupported, and being surrounded by temptation.

There is no benefit in making the early days of recovery any harder than they need to be. By choosing a rehab center in a country foreign to us, we can be in a comfortable environment that supports our efforts. The fact that the process is easier also increases the likelihood that we will see it through to the end.

5. An Option Not Available at Home

Probably the most common reason clients choose a destination rehab is it can offer them a solution not available in their home country. There are many reasons for why finding appropriate local addiction recovery support is a struggle. These can include:

  • Long waiting lists for government sponsored rehabs delay treatment.
  • Private rehab is too expensive.
  • The treatment approach used by the available rehabs is insufficient. A ‘one-size-fits-all’ mentality isn’t going to work for everyone.
  • Anonymity is a real issue for some clients and going to rehab in a foreign country helps them maintain their privacy. In some home countries, getting addiction treatment could damage a person’s reputation.
  • There can be options available in foreign rehab that are not available anywhere else, such as Vipassana Meditation Training as part of the treatment.

Are you interested in Destination Rehab?

Sometimes, getting started can be daunting. So, we invite you to leave us your questions in the comments section below. We’ll do our best to respond to you personally and promptly…and to calm your fears about taking the biggest step in your life!

About the Author: Paul Garrigan is a registered nurse specializing in addiction treatment. He manages the mindfulness program at Hope Rehab Thailand. Paul is also the author of Dead Drunk and the Paul Garrigan recovery blog.
If you require any advice or information for you are a loved one, then go to the Hope Rehab website
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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