I could not believe it when I learned that California has no fewer than 12 luxury treatment centers. I had no idea that the demand was so high for such a thing. So let’s take a look at the idea of luxury treatment centers and see how they might influence outcomes. When first learning of the very idea of a luxury treatment center, my first thought was:
Surely the luxurious setting would boost success rates?
It would seem like a number of small advantages would add up to give a luxury treatment center an advantage in treating addiction and alcoholism. Let’s look at some of the potential upsides here:
1) Better therapist to client ratio – The more expensive and luxurious treatment centers will tend to have less clients and more therapists–thus increasing the amount of one-on-one time for individual therapy.
2) Tendency for more holistic approaches – Because they can afford a spa, sauna, meditation rooms, and so on, the treatment will probably have a more holistic approach to it, and some clients might really connect with an alternative approach based on some of the these techniques. For example, a recovering addict might really discover meditation and start using that as their basis for recovery–yet they might never have discovered this at an “ordinary” treatment center.
3) Longer stays – Luxury treatment centers are for-profit and will tend to encourage longer stays. While this might sound greedy at first, most of the research shows that longer stays are usually associated with better outcomes. Most “regular” treatment centers will only authorize or recommend up to a 28 day stay.
4) Relaxation and stress reduction – I’m guessing on this one, but I’m figuring that luxury treatment centers will typically produce less stress in their clients as compared to regular treatment centers. For some people, the “vacation” aspect of a luxury treatment center might be just what they need to get a head start on their recovery.
There has to be a downside though….
1) The biggest problem with luxury treatment centers is that they are a slave to paying clients, and therefore cannot afford to enact discipline or force clients to attend groups and such. Doing so would cost them money in the long run. But in many cases, this strict discipline is just what some clients need to succeed in early recovery. How many addicts have failed to stay clean after leaving a luxury treatment center that might have done better at a traditional rehab that forces them to participate and help out (do minor chores and such)?
2) Because they are a slave to paying customers, these resort style rehabs actually have an incentive see clients fail. This is because they know that they have a good paying customer who already knows about their facility, thus making them a perfect future client as well. Repeat business is a common pattern among treatment centers anyway. This could even be happening at a subconscious level in some cases.
3) They cost so much more, and based on the numbers I’ve seen, success rates remain similar to “traditional” treatment centers.
The Bottom Line
Given all of that, it seems unlikely that simply going to a luxury treatment center is going to function as a magic bullet. In fact, many would argue that the opposite of luxury and pampering is needed for a solid start in recovery: the emphasis should be on discipline and learning.
The win-win situation here is that luxury treatment centers and the success stories that walked out of their program have a lesson to teach us–one that can probably be applied to any treatment center. If we were smart, we would look carefully at what they do right, and see if we can’t incorporate that into other treatment facilities. At the very least, their tendency for holistic treatment is something to consider.
What do you think about luxury treatment centers? Can they increase our chances in recovery? Should they even exist? Let us know in the comments!