Luxury Rehab or Traditional Rehab: What You Must Know

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The idea of a luxury rehab facility may seem like an oxymoron at first glance. Rehab is rehab, right? You go in, you work on yourself—it’s not fun—and eventually, you come out. Well, not so fast. As we’ll see, adding a bit of luxury can make the rehab process go more smoothly, which can reduce stress and decrease the chance of relapse. But what exactly is luxury rehab, and what are its merits? You’re about to find out.

In this post, we’ll explore luxury rehab in detail, giving you the tools you need to evaluate any program you may come across. Let’s get started. 

What is Luxury Rehab? 

Treatment facilities for substance abuse are not exactly in short supply. But it’s no secret that these facilities are not created equal, either. In perusing the centers on offer, you’ve no doubt come across ads for luxury facilities. A few questions may come to mind. You may, for instance, wonder what could possibly make the rehab experience seem ‘luxurious’ or glamorous. While these facilities don’t offer glamor, luxury is indeed a possibility. What’s more, the relaxation these facilities provide can indeed hasten your recovery. 

There are several factors that set luxury facilities apart, and we’ll get into those difference shortly. First, however, we feel it important to pose a question: are you ready to consider entering a rehab facility, regardless of its level of opulence or lack thereof? 

Addiction is now considered a malady that can be treated, after all, but success largely depends on the willingness of the participant to change. According to the American Psychiatric Association, via their Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, signs of addiction include, but are not limited to: 

  • Taking a substance in greater quantity than necessary or directed to 
  • Failed attempts to stop taking a substance or to reduce consumption 
  • Recurring, obsessive behaviors centered around obtaining a substance 
  • Recurring cravings or a strong desire to use a substance 
  • Continuing to abuse a substance despite social or interpersonal consequences 
  • Passing up social activities or opportunities in order to use a substance
  • Continually using a substance despite the physical danger, such as driving while intoxicated or high 
  • Having to use more of a substance to achieve the same high, aka tolerance 
  • Withdrawal symptoms if you stop using 

Someone diagnosed with substance abuse disorder may, or may not, meet all of these criteria. But typically, only a few are required for diagnosis. Severity, or the total impact on the individual’s ability to function, is the most important factor. 

Note that it’s entirely possible for a motivated individual to find success with a traditional rehab center. Both traditional and luxury rehab centers offer the minimal rehab experience to help individuals cope with, and recover from, their dependency. Yet there is something to be said for the experience offered by luxury rehab facilities, as we will soon see. 

Luxury Rehab 

The main difference between a luxury rehab facility and a traditional facility is that the former offers more of an individualized approach. This may not seem like much on the surface, but the difference in treatment quality and efficacy can be significant. You would also enjoy: 

  • A smaller patient to staff ratio 
  • Specialized treatment options 
  • High-end amenities 
  • A private, high-end suite, or room
  • An exclusive, relaxing location 

What Does a Good Facility Look Like?

A high-quality facility will offer a wide variety of amenities and treatment options. You could expect to encounter: 

  • Exclusive Services. Services such as 12-step meetings, life-skill classes and other programs such as mixed martial arts. These extra services make the rehab experience more bearable by relieving stress. When stress levels are lowered, withdrawal symptoms are less noticeable. Programs, such as mixed martial arts, help patients form new hobbies, which they can take with them when they go. Constructive hobbies can provide an important release and can help prevent relapse.  
  • Quality Accommodations. You’ll get a comfortable, spacious room, and good food. On the surface, both of these things are, again, designed to distract patients from withdrawal symptoms. However, note that accommodation quality will vary by facility. You’ll often find the food described with buzzwords such as ‘gourmet,’ ‘highest quality,’ etc. You may also see labels applied such as ‘organic’ or ‘natural.’ Most luxury rehab facilities will also offer swimming and a gymnasium, animal-assisted therapy, meditation, yoga, aromatherapy and even acupuncture. 

In addition, and perhaps more importantly, such a facility should have: 

  • A stellar reputation that stands up to scrutiny 
  • A high recovery rate 
  • A clean, well-maintained facility

Amenities & Benefits 

It’s all well and good for a facility to tout its amenities, but how do those perks actually aid in your recovery? As stated, many of these extras are there to provide stress relief, and the fact is, the ability to relax while enduring withdrawal symptoms is extremely beneficial.  

What’s more, the high-quality food offered at these facilities can help you address any underlying nutritional deficiencies which will make withdrawal symptoms more manageable. In addition, micro-nutrient deficiencies may manifest as muscle tremors, inability to sleep and in other ways, all of which can make having to deal with withdrawal symptoms unbearable. Addressing any existing deficiencies will make your rehabilitation process smoother. 

Animal-assisted therapy and meditation have both been shown to have benefits for recovering addicts. The mechanism seems to be stress reduction, but meditation, over several months, can actually impact brain structure in positive ways. What’s more, animal-assisted therapy can help you build interpersonal skills that may be a bit rusty. 

Acupuncture may be an effective way to reduce or manage cravings, reducing the severity of withdrawal symptoms—though it remains to be seen how much of this effect is placebo. 

Meanwhile, spa treatments can help patients manage stress while undergoing treatment. 

Finally, exercise can play an important role in recovery by improving mood. As you exercise, stress to the muscles causes the brain to release endorphins, nature’s ‘feel-good’ chemicals. 

What is the Recovery Rate of a Luxury Rehab Facility?

For much of the last century and beyond, scientists studying drug use and abuse were misled by powerful misconceptions about addiction. In the 1930s, for instance, the prevailing notion was that folks struggling with addiction simply lacked willpower, or else they were morally flawed in some way.

Science has come a long way, however. 

Today, we have a firm understanding of compulsive drug use. This understanding has enabled us to treat addiction in a systematic way. For instance, we now understand that addiction is a disease, and that it’s a disease that affects the brain. Because the brain itself is involved, the individual’s behavior is also affected. What’s more, there are several social, environmental and even genetic factors that help determine how susceptible someone is to addiction. 

Over the last thirty years or so, scientists have been using this accruing knowledge to refine the treatment of addiction such that recovery rates are steadily increasing. Even so, however, the reality remains somewhat grim. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, over 60 percent of drug addicts relapse.  

Therefore, if a luxury rehab facility falls within your budget, by all means, pursue it as a treatment option if you’re so inclined. The more spacious, more comfortable surroundings and the personalized treatment can go a long way toward helping you recover. 

Recovery Rate & Potential Red Flags

It is true that luxury rehab programs generally enjoy a higher recovery rate than their traditional counterparts. For instance, Cliffside, in Malibu, California, claims a recovery rate of 70%. But quality can vary greatly from program to program. Additionally, there are a few red flags and gotchas you’ll want to watch out for. 

A facility’s recovery rate is the percentage of patients who recover from their addiction after treatment. There are, however, a few things to keep in mind. For instance, facilities may use different criteria when defining ‘recovery.’  One facility may track patients over a five year period while another facility tracks only for three. It’s important, therefore, to find out how a given facility defines things. 

What’s more, when asked how successful their program is, a facility may refer to industry-wide stats. For instance, consider the following two questions: 

  • How successful is your program? 
  • Does addiction treatment really work? 

The first question is facility-specific, and it should be interpreted as such by the counselor, program director or other representatives of the facility. The second question is industry-wide. When asking about recovery rate, listen carefully to the answer so you can determine whether they’re giving you information about their program. If their answers could apply to the industry as a whole, that may be a red flag. 

For more information on this, see the paper Addiction Treatment Options: Who and What Can You Believe? 

Further complicating things is that reporting on the efficacy of drug rehab programs, on the whole, has been spotty. Program directors may reference materials from professional conferences, trade journals or scientific publications. But you’ll have no way of knowing whether those resources were peer-reviewed unless you look them up yourself on PubMed or another archive. 

The first addiction treatment outcome study was conducted way back in 1874, by Dr. Joseph Turner. More than a century later, discrepancies persist between addiction treatment outcomes reported in scientific journals and the results claimed by rehab facilities of all kinds. 

So What are the Advantages? 

None of this should be taken to mean that luxury rehab facilities are ineffective. In fact, the advantages they offer are undeniable. However, you’ll want to carefully evaluate a given facility. We’ll get into how to do that in a moment. For now, let’s hammer out the advantages. 

Top-Notch Treatment 

Luxury rehab, by definition, offers the best addiction treatment money can buy.  These facilities treat addiction not as a moral failing, but as a condition that can be treated over time, through therapy, but also through a partnership with the patient. Any addiction therapy is most effective when viewed as a collaborative effort between the program and the individual, and you’ll see this best put into practice in a luxury program. 

Without a doubt, the counselors, therapists and other staff on hand in these programs are among the best available in the industry. Many of them are more experienced than the staff you’ll find in a traditional facility. Consequently, they’ll have an intimate understanding of what you might be going through, and this manifests as a level of compassion you’re unlikely to find in a traditional program.  This doesn’t mean, however, that counselors are pushovers. 

Access to World-Class Programs 

The programs on offer in these more exclusive facilities tend to cater more to the needs of the individual. Your counselors will learn about your own unique challenges, and they’ll come up with ways to help you cope and push through. 

Patient to Staff Ratio 

Traditional rehab facilities have to cope with a high volume of patients. This leads to a high patient to staff ratio, which makes individualized treatment difficult, if not impossible. But more exclusive facilities avoid this problem altogether. You’ll enjoy more attention from counselors, which results in high-quality treatment.  This can make your stay shorter and your recovery faster. 

Alternative Care Options 

As mentioned, you’ll receive access to alternative care options, such as yoga, meditation classes, massage, etc. These activities can help you improve interpersonal skills, increase physical fitness and lower stress levels. All of this, together, can mean a lower chance of relapse. 


Many of the more exclusive programs keep chefs on staff to provide patients with outstanding food throughout their stay. It’s just one more small detail that can make a stay in a rehab facility more tolerable. 


Which leads, of course, to a discussion of comfort in general. Many facilities offer additional amenities such as gardens, private rooms, high-quality linens and large, private bathrooms. More traditional facilities are smaller, and they have a distinctive ‘hospital’ feel that can make patients less receptive to treatment. 

How to Evaluate a Luxury Rehab Facility 

Naturally, if you or a loved one decide to seek treatment, it’s crucial that you know what to look for. Yet evaluating a treatment center can be a frustrating experience. Careful evaluation can help you maximize your odds of recovering from your addiction. 

There are a few steps you can take to evaluate any given program. You can: 

    • Evaluate their website. Look for typos in copy as well as outdated styles or other elements that suggest a lack of professionalism. This is a luxury facility, after all. They should have the budget to ensure that their copy is flawless. That means no typos or grammatical errors. 
    • Look for testimonials or reviews. You can, and should, ask the program director or your contact in the facility for reviews. Most facilities will be happy to comply. However, it’s always better if these testimonials come from a third-party, such as a review site. But perhaps the best source of reviews is from your own social circle. If someone you know has been through that program, ask them for their take, and ask them to be as objective as possible.
    • Look up the daily schedule. Before committing to a program, you’ll want to know what you’re in for. A facility should be glad to give you a copy of the daily schedule, or else they’ll answer any questions you have about daily activities. If anything mandatory on the schedule rubs you the wrong way, then the program might not be a good fit. 
    • Ask about accreditation. Accreditation is an absolute must. When a program is accredited, you can rest assured they’ve been through a series of evaluations by a third-party that demonstrate adherence to standards of excellence. Specifically, look for compliance with CARF or Joint Commission standards.
  • Take a tour. Many programs will allow you to tour their facility. While on the tour, assess the grounds for cleanliness and organization. Study the body language of the patients, if possible. Do they seem relaxed? Content? 
  • Find out what their success rate is. It’s perfectly acceptable to ask a counselor or the program director what their success rate is. There should be no hesitation on their part. Just keep in mind that this ‘recovery rate’ can be a fairly liquid concept across facilities. 

In this post, you’ve learned how a luxury facility differs from a traditional rehab facility, a few potential red flags to watch out for and how to evaluate a given program. You now have all the information you need to asses any luxury options that appeal to you. 

If you know someone you think may benefit from reading this guide, please consider sharing. If you’re looking for a luxury rehab facility, contact The Hills in order to find out if our facility is right for you!

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