Learn / Luxury Rehab: The Benefits of Comfort in the Recovery Journey
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When you think of rehab for drug or alcohol addiction, “luxury” might not be the first word that comes to your mind. But there are many paths to healing from addictions and other behavioral or mental health conditions. And for some, a comfortable or even upscale setting can provide the ideal conditions for getting the most out of treatment.
You may already be thinking of seeking treatment at a luxury rehab center. Or perhaps you’re wondering if you can really get the help you need from a luxury rehab that looks, from the outside, like a vacation getaway.
When it comes to getting life-changing (or even life-saving) treatment, it’s important to follow your instincts. If you’re feeling drawn to a particular type of treatment, getting as much unbiased information as possible is essential to making an educated, confident decision about your care.
The fact of the matter is, any rehab center can call itself “luxury” because there aren’t any internationally standardized requirements for this claim. When a drug or alcohol treatment center identifies as luxury, though, this usually means that it’s an upscale, residential treatment facility.
So, the first step to finding the right luxury rehab center for you is to define what you’re thinking of when you think of luxury. Are you looking for elegant facilities and extra amenities? Or does luxury mean the best medical staff and a wide variety of therapies?
In general, luxury rehabs do include at least some combination of these:
Oftentimes the setting is remote yet sophisticated, similar to an exotic vacation destination. Luxury rehab centers are available all around the world. Depending on the location, getting there may involve domestic or international travel.
Facilities might boast swimming pools, hot tubs, saunas, exercise facilities, hyperbaric oxygen chambers, a library or business center, and more. These amenities would most likely be of the same standard, or quite similar to, what you would experience while staying at a 4- or 5-star hotel.
Though many treatment programs today offer complementary therapies, luxury centers might provide even more specialized options like equine therapy, adventure therapy, spa treatments, acupuncture, massage therapy, and more.
Detox, when required, is often done at a hospital or a specialized detox center before admission to a residential rehab center. Luxury rehabs may have designated detox facilities on their premises with the medical staff and equipment necessary to safely oversee the process.
This discrepancy in the definition of “luxury,” and how it can mean different things at different facilities, is why RehabPath has benchmarks for listing centers on our site. Our searchable collection of rehabs only includes those that, regardless of cost, meet our luxury treatment provider criteria:
Treatment at a luxury rehab center might be a good fit for certain clientele, more so than budget or retreat-style centers. For example, if someone’s used to certain living standards, has specific medical needs, or is looking for exclusive qualities in a treatment program, then luxury rehab might better facilitate the recovery process for such clients.
Some patients seek treatment at a luxury addiction or mental health rehab for other reasons:
Sometimes a drastic change in environment has the opposite effect of providing a healing space for recovery. If the setting causes discomfort, whether minute or extreme, physical or mental, some people might not be as receptive to implementing the changes necessary for lasting recovery. According to Giles Fourie, Director and Co-Owner at White River Manor,
“The more structure and the more barriers you put in place, sometimes, the more closed off people become. So offering people a place of comfort, a place where there is a great service, I think gives them the better opportunity to immediately open up and engage.”
The industry standard for treatment at a residential treatment center is about 30 days. And during that time, you’ll face a lot of draining emotional challenges. While beneficial and necessary, these heightened emotional states tend to take a physical and emotional toll. According to Dr. Frederick Goggans, McLean Hospital‘s Medical Director,
“(Luxury rehabs) create an environment where it’s comfortable to be a resident for the length of time that’s involved to do this kind of work. It’s an environment where you’re sleeping well, you’re paying attention to nutrition, making healthier choices, getting daily exercise and building all that into a lifestyle change.”
The comfortable setting and conveniences most luxury rehabs offer helps your body and mind relax and be more prepared for and open to intensive treatment. Resting in these comforts during downtime can actually speed your recovery between treatments and help you integrate what you learn in your sessions.
Most luxury rehab centers have a higher staff-to-client ratio, because their higher admittance fees afford them the additional costs of hiring more staff. And more people on staff means each client is more likely to receive higher levels of one-on-one care.
This individualized care may mean the difference between success or failure for some clients. As one study reports, humans “differ from each other at every discernible level. This implies that it would be a miracle if standardized treatment strategies would work for everyone at every stage1 and that patients with the same diagnosis would respond in the same way.”
With this in mind, it’s possible that extra attention and time spent on individual client’s treatment plans could promote better recovery progress.
It’s not uncommon for people seeking treatment to already have experience with different substance or alcohol use disorder programs and facilities. Many people try a variety of therapies or different styles of centers on their journey to find healing.
For some, luxury rehab might offer the pieces that were missing from getting successful treatment results at budget addiction rehab centers. Features like serene, remote environments and guided recreational activities, may help your treatment have better, longer-lasting impacts.
Whether you’re a business owner, a celebrity, or a caregiver, sometimes there are obligations and responsibilities that make putting your life on pause for the duration of inpatient treatment impractical.
“One of the main things that deters people from coming to treatment is that they have full-time jobs or children. So it’s difficult to step away and seek treatment,” says Douglass Weiss, President and Chief Customer Officer at Gallus Detox Centers. Which is exactly why some luxury rehabs allow for computer use, cell phone use and even full family stays.
Now that we’ve explored some of the reasons why people seek luxury addiction treatment, let’s examine some benefits that luxury rehab can provide.
No matter what kind of program you attend, you’ll likely get some positive benefits from receiving treatment. Luxury rehabs simply offer additional, or different kinds of, benefits that may help you take that next step to finding lasting recovery.
Many times people suffering from addiction or mental illnesses are in a constant state of stress. Their bodies are flooded with the stress hormone cortisol, and because of this, their fight-flight-or-freeze mode is constantly triggered. One of the most important aspects of rehab is that it provides a safe space for your body to relax and begin to heal.
Ameet Braich, Clinical Director of Camino Recovery, explains:
“Suffering, in any form, really doesn’t have a place in treatment. If somebody needs to get well, they can do it in nice, comfortable surroundings. It only aids the healing process. Being in a peaceful environment where you really get time to reflect and look inward lends itself to a therapeutic process.”
Comfortable surroundings can go a long way in creating a safe space, which helps reduce the body’s stress levels and may increase the therapeutic value of your time in treatment. When you’re in a relaxed, positive physical and mental state, your brain is more likely to retain new information2 and form healthier habits.
Nutrition is a fundamental part of healing from addiction. Many people in recovery have vitamin deficiencies3 due to the depletion caused by prolonged substance use. Nutrient-dense meals provide your body with physical energy and strength to support you during treatment.
Rowland Tweedie, Health and Fitness Manager at Paracelsus Recovery explains the importance of healthy eating in recovery:
“Nutrition is vitally important for all of us, because every time we eat food, it’s information for the body. Having the right type of nutrition helps us to have vitality and energy, and helps with all the systems in the body.”
There are several studies proving that healthy, individualized changes in nutrition can reduce the symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress.4 Not only that, but some scientists even believe that the gut microbiome is an “important and modifiable mediator of substance-seeking behavior.”
In other words, gut-focused nutrition therapy can reduce some people’s risk of relapse. As Tweedie says, “If we eat the right types of food, we feel and think differently. Nutrition is the foundation of health, really.”
Addiction affects people from all walks of life—from celebrities and CEOs to teachers and full-time employees. Clients may not want their personal or professional associates to know they’re receiving treatment. So when a high-profile person, a busy executive, or a wealthy family member needs treatment, privacy concerns may be what prevents them from getting the help they need.
In addition to already being located in remote settings, many luxury rehab centers address these concerns by offering the utmost security and discretion for their guests. Gallus Detox Centers’ Marketing and Outreach Director Laura Herrmann says,
“We’re very discreet. We try to keep ourselves as professional as possible so that when people are coming in, it’s not recognizable as a medical detox.”
Some facilities also offer ultra-exclusive programs for those who can’t mingle with other clients for privacy reasons. Examples include having private accommodations where staff come to you to do sessions, or even attending a completely individualized program where the entire staff serves one client at a time.
At most luxury rehabs, not only are you more likely to receive one-on-one attention, but you’re also more likely to have a wider variety of therapies, counselors, food, and activities to choose from. Although higher costs don’t always equal better quality of care, clients seeking the highest quality of treatment available might be more likely to find what they’re looking for at a luxury rehab.
And, again, if you’ve already tried many different types of treatments or programs, having a wider range of options may make all the difference for you. For example, some studies on addiction have reported that music therapy can reduce substance cravings,5 as it increases your perceived control. So if you’re looking for more personalized treatment options, a luxury rehab might offer more choices.
You don’t have to necessarily put the rest of your life on hold to get treatment. Maybe you need to stay connected to the “outside world” for work purposes, to maintain your image, or for family emergencies.
Jan Gerber, Paracelsus Recovery‘s CEO, clarifies:
“Often in treatment, you have to switch off your phone, or even sometimes give up your phone. You can’t open your laptop whilst you’re in treatment, and that’s why people who can’t do that simply wouldn’t go to treatment.”
If absolutely necessary, many luxury rehabs can “do justice to your reality,” as Gerber puts it, and accommodate your need to have internet access and use of your cell phone or laptop. Some even offer executive rehab programs specifically for clients who need more flexibility to be able to work during treatment.
Of course, it’s important to keep in mind that you might still be able to get some of these benefits at other “levels” or types of addiction rehabs. If you’re still wondering whether luxury rehab is right for you, there’s some evidence that further supports the effectiveness of luxury rehab.
Some people might question the effectiveness of getting treatment for a serious problem at an upscale facility, surrounded by a tranquil environment and high-end amenities. That’s understandable, considering these settings can look a lot like vacation destinations. So, what proof is there that receiving treatment for substance use disorders or mental health conditions in a luxury environment is more effective?
To begin with, some studies show that “clients who were involved in shared decision making, were able to choose a treatment modality, or received their preferred treatment had greater treatment satisfaction, higher retention and completion rates, and better outcomes.” In other words, having a role in choosing where you get treatment can actually increase your chances of success.6
Obviously, this idea is applicable to choosing any type of treatment, whether luxury or not. But, if you’re used to a certain kind of lifestyle and specific types of treatment centers are more desirable to you, there’s a chance you may have better success with recovery in those programs you’re attracted to.
Even if your initial thinking isn’t to seek treatment at a luxury facility, some experts say that a comfortable setting helps you get the most from treatment. Giles Fourie notes,
“What we’ve experienced having been in the addiction field for over a decade is that a lot of programs are punitive and restrictive. What people do ultimately is conform to the program rather than transform. And we believe that this setting, where we’re offering our clients the comforts they would have at home, really opens them up and ultimately enhances their recovery process and their restoration.”
One reason a comfortable environment, or even a “luxurious” setting, may enhance recovery is because of how it helps our bodies relax, which in turn reduces cortisol levels and improves brain function. Scientific studies have proven that “stress is a potent modulator of brain structure, brain function, and cognition.” So, whether a person experiences short-term, acute stress or long-term, chronic stress, depending on the person,” experiencing excessive stress can be highly detrimental to memory function.”7
If you’re in a stressful environment, there’s a possibility that your memory function will be negatively impaired. This in turn could negatively impact how much of your treatment you retain and are able to access in the future during situations when you need it the most. Again, what’s stressful differs from person to person, so it’s important to know what kind of surroundings will most likely work best for you.
Ultimately, treatment for addiction and mental health disorders is a highly personal decision. What works for someone else may or may not work for you. That’s why it’s so important to consider all aspects of a treatment program before committing the time, money, and energy required to get help at a residential rehab.
No matter what kind of treatment or facility you’re looking for, remember: despite what a center might claim to be, it’s important to do your own research and make sure the “luxury” you’re signing up for is the type of luxury you’re expecting.
If luxury rehab sounds like an avenue you’d like to explore, you can find treatment centers in nearly every corner of the world. You can also find luxury rehabs within a wide range of costs—many of which take insurance—making this a surprisingly realistic treatment option.
Luxury rehab refers to a treatment program that provides high-end amenities and accommodations in addition to evidence-based therapies for addiction and mental health conditions.
Upscale residential rehabs often provide a comfortable and supportive environment, access to world-class amenities and facilities, individualized treatment plans, and a focus on holistic healing for the mind, body, and spirit.
Anyone struggling with addiction or mental health issues can benefit from luxury rehab, but it may be especially helpful for those who want a more comfortable and private recovery experience, or those who have tried traditional rehab without success.
van der Stel, J. (2015). Precision in addiction care: Does it make a difference? The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, 88(4), 415–422.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4654192/
Tyng, C. M., Amin, H. U., Saad, M. N. M., & Malik, A. S. (2017). The influences of emotion on learning and memory. Frontiers in Psychology, 8.https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01454/full
Umhau, John C. Conquering the Craving, Journal of Christian Nursing: July/September 2019 - Volume 36 - Issue 3 - p 148-156 doi: 10.1097/CNJ.0000000000000624https://journals.lww.com/journalofchristiannursing/Fulltext/2019/07000/Conquering_the_Craving__Treatment_to_Curb_Alcohol.10.aspx
Wiss, D. A. (2019). A biopsychosocial overview of the opioid crisis: Considering nutrition and gastrointestinal health. Frontiers in Public Health, 7.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6629782/
Fancourt D, Finn S. What is the evidence on the role of the arts in improving health and well-being? A scoping review [Internet]. Copenhagen: WHO Regional Office for Europe; 2019.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK553778/#ch2.s1
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2021). Clinical Issues in Intensive Outpatient Treatment for Substance Use Disorders. Advisory. Publication No. PEP20-02-01-021https://store.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/SAMHSA_Digital_Download/pep20-02-01-021.pdf)) during and after treatment
Sandi, C. (2007). Memory impairments associated with stress and aging. In F. Bermúdez-Rattoni (Ed.), Neural Plasticity and Memory: From Genes to Brain Imaging. CRC Press/Taylor & Francis.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK3914/
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