Is Luxury Rehab Really Worth the Money?

Luxury rehab promises great views, wonderful amenities, and—most importantly—long-term recovery. But, do these places actually work? And do they work better than traditional, public rehab centers? The verdict is still out.

What Is Luxury Rehab?

Luxury rehabs are elite private facilities that treat a range of addiction and mental health conditions, often depicted as the healing sanctuaries of the rich and famous. Typically, these centers are located in beautiful and exclusive areas of the country.

Luxury rehab centers can cost anywhere from 5-6 times more than standard rehabilitation centers. Specifically, luxury rehab can cost a whopping $30,000 to $100,000 for 30 days, whereas standard centers range from $5,000 to $20,000 for the same length of time.1

Insurance may help cover some of the cost, but the majority of luxury rehab centers are not covered by insurance plans and the majority of their clients pay out of pocket.1,2 With this price tag, only a small percentage of individuals with drug and alcohol use disorders can afford luxury rehab.2

Another consideration is the cost of ongoing treatment after the 30-day rehab has finished. Many addiction specialists argue that the longer in treatment, the better long-term recovery outcomes a person is likely to experience. Some professionals advocate for a minimum of 90 days of inpatient rehab.1

So, when mapping out the cost of rehab, you should add in the cost of aftercare, which can push the cost of luxury rehab and services up even higher, especially if you seek luxury aftercare.

What’s Different About Luxury Addiction Treatment?

The purpose of any form of treatment for substance use disorders is to provide a safe, transitional place where individuals can begin to manage the behaviors and symptoms of chemical dependency.2 Given that there are over 14,500 current rehab centers, you may have difficulty choosing which one can meet your needs at a price that is affordable for you.3

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Whether you choose a luxury treatment facility or a traditional rehab center, you will likely receive care from a variety of professionals who specialize in the treatment of alcohol and drug use disorders. These professionals include:3

  • Pharmacists
  • Psychologists
  • Psychiatrists
  • Physicians
  • Social workers and/or professional counselors
  • Nursing staff
  • Administrative staff

However, in a luxury rehab center, you may receive more one-on-one time with the medical and mental health professionals in your treatment team. Staff caseloads are typically lower than in traditional rehab.

Although luxury alcohol treatment can appear on the outside as a “spa-like space,” where individuals with substance use disorders come to relax and enjoy themselves, luxury rehab centers pride themselves on providing the best treatment available, incorporating evidence-based and cutting-edge alternative therapies.2

What’s Different About Luxury Rehab Facilities?

Several things set luxury rehab aside from traditional rehabs. For example, an exclusive luxury rehab center can:2

Luxury rehab offers many amenities.

  • Limit the number of residents—Luxury centers may have fewer than 10 beds available, while traditional centers may work to accommodate as many clients as they can.
  • Provide gourmet meals—While traditional rehabs accommodate medical food needs (e.g., food allergies), luxury rehabs accommodate nonmedical dietary preferences and may go as far as offering personal chefs.
  • Provide single-bed rooms—Though traditional rehabs attempt to accommodate room preferences, you will likely share a room and other aspects of communal living.
  • Provide high-end living arrangements—Luxury rehabs use high-end design and materials in their facilities and may even accommodate residents’ taste or specifications, such as in bedding. Traditional rehab centers have a more standardized living sensibility.

Luxury rehab providers believe that these comforts allow you to focus on the issues that brought you to treatment rather than on your surroundings.

Most luxury rehabs have stricter admission processes. This may result in luxury rehab centers referring out individuals who need specialized care, such as those with a history of suicidality or those in drug court.2 This allows the facilities to curate not just the environment and treatment, but also the clientele.

The Malibu Model

Promises, the industry leader of luxury rehabs, spearheaded what is now known as “The Malibu Model.”4 Since 1988, The Malibu Model has emphasized addressing the underlying problems that influence an individual’s substance use disorder. Once only used in luxury settings, this concept of holistic treatment has been adopted by many traditional rehab centers as well.4

Promises limits the number of residents in their home, typically to around six, offering private suites and rooms. Promises also tailors their plan of care to each resident, so no one resident has the same.4

Promises starts treatment with a 96-hour assessment, which includes evaluation of the substance use disorder and a history and background with personality and psychological assessments. Promises’ treatment modalities utilize both traditional and alternative therapies, including:4

Residents are also given access to swimming pools, Jacuzzis, and specialized diet plans.4 For those with substance use disorders and co-occurring mental health disorders, psychiatry is also available and is a topic explored while in therapy.

Residents are involved in some form of therapy, including group and individual sessions, for approximately 30 hours a week. Promises also offers 12-step programs, sometimes off-site, to which they will provide transportation. Promises also encourages family support and involvement, including an intensive family workshop.4

Promises’ amenities include:4

  • Outdoor hikes
  • Rock climbing
  • Tennis courts
  • Therapeutic art activities
  • Equine therapy

Although you may find a number of these services in a traditional rehab, such as art therapy and outdoor activities, it is less likely that extensive amenities and alternative therapies will be incorporated into the program.

How Does Luxury Rehab Use Complementary Treatments?

Some addiction experts argue that luxury rehab centers that do not use a rigid program tend to be ineffective. Arguments have also been made that no research suggests that the increased access to amenities results in better recovery outcomes, merely in a vacation-like atmosphere in the rehab center.2 However, research has shown that certain complementary treatments can be beneficial.5

These complementary treatments include:5

  • Nutritional support
  • Acupuncture
  • Tai chi
  • Yoga
  • Massage therapy
  • Chiropractic and osteopathic manipulation
  • Art therapy
  • Music therapy
  • Mindfulness-based stress reduction
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Meditation
  • Ayurvedic medicine
  • Traditional Chinese medicine
  • Homeopathy
  • Naturopathy

What Brings People to Luxury Rehab?

One of the biggest incentives to enroll in luxury rehab may be highly individualized treatment. Luxury rehab is also designed to cater to all of your needs, which can allow you to feel pampered and well-taken care of. In comparison, it is common for traditional rehab centers to assign chores and have residents attend to their own needs.

Similar to traditional rehab, some luxury rehab sites offer detox services on-site. Once detox is completed, clients will move into the inpatient curriculum. Many luxury rehabs have a similar structure to their day, as do traditional rehabs. That is, residents:

  • Wake up at a certain time
  • Eat meals at a certain time
  • Engage in various forms of therapy at a certain time
  • Have some free time to engage in self-help activities
  • Go to bed at certain times

Luxury rehabs, like traditional rehabs, participate in the step-down model of treatment, meaning once an individual completes one step of the recovery process, they are transitioned into the next. For example, the step-down process can include going from detoxification services to inpatient residential services. Typically, you will be referred to additional recovery supports such as sober living or outpatient therapy once your inpatient treatment has been completed.

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Is Luxury Rehab Worth It?

Relapse can happen whether you attend a luxury rehab or a traditional one. It is difficult to determine the exact rate of reoccurrence of use once rehab is completed, and many treatment facilities do not publish their rates of return to treatment. However, many industry experts estimate that relapse rates are approximately the same as any other chronic medical condition, which can be between 40-60%.3

Overall, scholarly research is sparse in comparing luxury rehab to traditional rehab. Many luxury rehabs make large promises, but there’s no real evidence that their approach is more effective, according to professionals in the field.2

What does hold true is that luxury rehab is more likely to provide you with many amenities and complementary services that traditional rehabs may not. Research does indicate that several of these services can be added to traditional alcohol use disorder treatment with promising results.3

Treatment completion and personal motivation have not been linked to luxury rehab, but have been well-documented factors in positive long-term recovery outcomes. In fact, motivation enhancement is often employed in rehab treatment programs. You may potentially stay in treatment for the entire program, seek follow-up services, and feel greater motivation if you have a strong positive experience in rehab. While any rehab center may provide this positive experience, the options and amenities may be useful for you personally.

If you are interested in seeking services for alcohol or substance use disorder, please contact 800-839-1686Who Answers?.

Resources

  1. Burkholder, T. (2021) Drug Addiction & Mental Health. English Department: Research for Change – Wicked Problems in Our World,
  2. Firestone, C. (2008). Killing the buzz: The real story on rehab. [USC Thesis].
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020). Principles of drug addiction treatment: A research-based guide (Third edition).
  4. The Fix. (2019, June 12). Promises Malibu.
  5. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. (2021). Complementary, alternative, or integrative health: What’s in a name?

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