The Pros and Cons of Private Accommodations in Treatment

Addictions are sometimes described as contagious, implying that spending time with an addicted person can cause a once-sober person to lose all control. Studies of the issue do seem to imply that peers have the ability to cause symptoms of addiction in people who were once not afflicted with these habits. For example, in a study of college students in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, researchers found that college-age boys were more likely to binge drink if they had done so in the past and were assigned to a roommate who binged. Studies like this make it clear that peers have the ability to do harm, and it might be best to limit exposure. However, peers can sometimes be helpful and even transformative, helping people learn lessons they might not be able to consider on their own.

These issues aren’t merely academic, especially for people who enter luxury treatment programs for addiction. Often, people are allowed to choose whether they’d like private rooms or shared facilities. Learning more about the pros and cons of private rooms can help people to make the right choice for their own recovery.

Pros of Privacy


Addictions can cause people to make terrible choices in life, including:

  • Spending the family’s savings
  • Neglecting children
  • Losing steady employment
  • Engaging in public outbursts

Drugs and alcohol can numb the pain and suppress the memory, but when those substances are removed, the person often has a huge backlog of feelings to work through, and the sensations of pain and shame can be immense. Sometimes, people want seclusion and privacy, so they can think things through and come to terms with what has happened in the past and what should happen in the future. A roommate could intrude on this solitude and make quiet reflection harder. A roommate that incessantly discusses drugs and alcohol could also make cravings larger. At times, privacy might be the right choice.

Drawbacks to Privacy


People who are addicted may feel completely alone in the world, as though no one understands them and no one wants to listen to the words they choose to say. It’s difficult, and sometimes, having a roommate in addiction treatment can help to break down this feeling of isolation. That person understands what an addiction is like, and that person is likely to have insights about the issue, based on his/her own life. When two people like this come together, they might share stories, swap ideas and just lean on one another. It could be the first step back into healthy relationships for someone in recovery.

People farther along in recovery can also help people who are new to the process, functioning as sober emissaries. For example, in a study in the journal Social Science and Medicine, researchers found that utilizing a social group could help to encourage people to get care. This so-called “peer-driven intervention” utilized supportive friends as part of the treatment program, and people who got this kind of help just felt more supported and motivated than people just working with a counselor. The same could happen in a roommate situation, as the two people could motivate one another to participate, learn and grow. It could be a vital part of healing.

Providing personalized care is what we do at Alta Mira, and we encourage our clients to learn all they can about their options before they make any choices regarding their treatments. If you’d like to learn more about the Alta Mira difference, please call us.