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Learn / Top 5 Benefits to Going Abroad for Mental Health Treatment

Top 5 Benefits to Going Abroad for Mental Health Treatment

Olivia MuellerOlivia Mueller


Olivia holds over 10 years of experience in the addiction treatment industry and a Master’s in Addiction Studies from King’s College London, University of Adelaide, and Virginia Commonwealth University.
 Published June 7th, 2019|  Professionally Reviewed By 
Rajnandini Rathod

 Reviewed by Rajnandini Rathod on June 7, 2019

Rajnandini is a psychologist, keen on bringing awareness and uplifting the stigma attached to mental health in India. She completed her Master’s in Psychology with considerable experience with people with addiction problems.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse1:

“Environmental factors may increase a person’s risk of addiction, including a chaotic home environment and abuse, parent’s drug use and attitude toward drugs, peer influences, community attitudes toward drugs, and poor academic achievement.”

There’s no arguing that environmental factors play a large role in facilitating addiction, substance abuse and depression. From a person’s family life and personal relationships to their economic stature and career, there are many “realities” that factor into why addiction is such a prevalent problem.

And it is a prevalent problem.

In 2017, the United States saw more than 70,200 people die from drug overdoses, and 19.7 million people across the country battled substance abuse, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.2 According to the 2018 UNODC World Drug Report,3 an estimated 31 million people struggle with drug use disorders and the World Health Organization Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health (2018)4 , estimates 283 million people struggle with alcohol use disorders (AUD) worldwide

When it comes to recovery, then, our everyday surroundings might not be the best place for it. In fact, a complete disconnect is arguably the healthiest way to recharge and reset.

Here are five reasons why going abroad for mental health treatment is a smart choice.

1. Disconnect from “Normality”

Oprah Winfrey once said:

“Surround yourself with those who only lift you higher.”

Taking yourself out of your normal routine and everyday surroundings can provide a fresh, new beginning for recovery. Chances are, in your current situation, you are surrounded by many “reasons” to drink or use, whether your friends encourage it or the tension with your family makes you feel the need to numb.

Going abroad to a rehab treatment center means you can disconnect from current enablers and negative people in your life, and remove the notion of peer pressure, judgement and snarky comments.

Here, you can begin to regain control over your choices and can consciously choose to improve and get better on your own terms, without fear of what others might think.

2. Get Specific and Expert Treatment

When it comes to rehabilitation, there are a plethora of treatment options available across the globe, and different countries often have their own unique treatment approaches to help heal a variety of addictions.

In Portugal, for example, several rehab centers offer ibogaine treatment to help recovering opioid addicts. But, ibogaine treatment is controversial. Although the U.S. government has declared opioid addiction an epidemic across the country, they’ve banned the use of ibogaine treatment as a viable recovery solution. For opioid addicts, then, ibogaine-assisted treatment only exists abroad.

Further, doctors and clinicians often specialize in particular areas and gain a reputation worth noting. To get the best treatment from these experts, it might require visiting a rehab center somewhere other than at home.

3. Gain a New Perspective

Oftentimes, what’s needed to jumpstart recovery is a new perspective.5 While family and friends often enable us to abuse drug and alcohol, so too can the way we see the world. When it comes to substance abuse, it’s common for our perspective to be negativity skewed, and negativity facilitates more negativity.

Perhaps you’re not earning enough money and you’re frustrated, for example. Perhaps your family takes you for granted. It might even be something as little as someone not saying thank you when you do something nice.

Whatever it is, new experiences, new cultures and observing a new way of living life can help us shift our perspective on everyday activities and experiences, and consequently, it can help us climb out of negativity. In Spain, for example, good weather, delicious food and a slower pace of life can help us breathe, heal and ultimately, overcome our addictions.

4. Save Yourself a Little Money

It’s often the case that rehab centers abroad are less expensive than rehab centers at home (depending on where you call home, of course).

If you’re from Britain, for instance, your sterling will get you a lot further if you attend rehab in Thailand, and you won’t be sacrificing on the quality of care. Accessibility to a rehab facility because of one’s economic viability can be a big barrier to attending rehab. It might be more cost-effective to travel abroad for recovery. Plus, you get to see a little of the world, which can only do you good.

5. Gain Privacy

Admitting addiction and seeking help is a courageous thing to do. Sometimes you may want to participate in drug and alcohol treatment with complete privacy and discretion, perhaps even keeping it from people close to you (and your employer). Although staying local for treatment has its own set of advantages, going to rehab abroad can allow a person more privacy. You don’t have to disclose your reason for travel and you’re less likely to bump into those you know.

Experience Something New

Going abroad for rehab has many personal benefits attached to it. From altering our perspective and removing ourselves from unhealthy environments to getting specialist treatment at an affordable price, there are many reasons why a different country can aid in recovery.

But while these reasons have weight, there’s one overarching reason to attend rehab abroad, and that’s to simply experience something new. A new place, a new culture and a fresh take on life can jump-start the next chapter of life for many, and these personal learnings are arguably as important as the treatment program itself.

To quote Walt Disney:

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

It’s these new paths that we must seek out to learn, heal and, ultimately, to become better people.

  1. “Drug Misuse and Addiction.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, []
  2. 2017 NSDUH Annual National Report. National Survey on Drug Use and Health Annual Report, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 14 Sept. 2018 []
  3. World Drug Report 2018. []
  4. Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health 2018. []
  5. Blaschka, Amy. “If You Want To Change Your Life, Change Your Environment.” Forbes, []

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