Spend enough time in the 12-step recovery rooms and you’re likely to hear the pejorative…
Addiction Recovery and Geographical Cures: Escapism Isn’t the Solution
Considering a geographical move isn’t an uncommon strategy for those of us who are in recovery for addiction problems. Many of us experience the urge to pull up roots and start over in a new neighborhood, a new city, a new state or maybe even a new country. We feel sure that all we need is a fresh beginning and everything will be all right.
We have to recognize that when we pursue a geographical cure, in many cases we are really pursuing escapism. It’s been a pattern in our lives to avoid feeling our feelings, and even though we’re sober, what we’re doing now isn’t so different than what we’ve always done. We want to escape from people, places and things, and we think a new environment is the solution. But is it?
Are You Running Away From or Toward Something?
Many of us come to the conclusion that changing our environment would be a great way for a new beginning. We think our hometown, job or family are stifling us in some way, or we think that too many people that we run into on the street remember us as drug addicts. We think people will offer us drugs or judge us for the things we have done in the past. We want to go somewhere new, where no one knows about our dark past, a place where we won’t run into people from the past that we’re trying to shut the door on, away from family drama and bad memories.
We have to consider what is really motivating us to think about moving. Are we truly moving toward something positive? Do we have a support group at the new location? Or are we just trying to run away from reality, the same way we have always done with our addictive behavior?
What Geographical Moves Won’t Cure
We may feel sure that everything about our life needs to be changed. We want to tear everything up and start again. In our current city, there are too many bars, too many drug dealers and too many bad memories. There are too many reminders of a life we no longer want.
The problem is that what we are really running away from may not be what we think it is. It may not be the people we see on the streets of our hometown, our families, the drug dealers, the police or our bad memories.
What we’re really running from is ourselves. But wherever we go, we are taking ourselves along. No matter where we go or how far we run, that is not going to change.
Addiction Recovery Requires Honesty
Recovery from drug addiction or any other form of addiction requires that we are completely honest with ourselves. We have to examine our motives in wanting to move away or start over. Does the move really makes sense because we’re moving toward a better future, or are we just trying to escape from our current reality?
There are times when a geographical move might make sense. We might be offered a new job in a faraway city with a compensation package we can’t turn down. We might have family members or friends at the new location and we simply want to live closer to our loved ones.
Determining whether we are making a decision for positive reasons requires some soul-searching. We have to be honest with ourselves, our sponsors and our closest friends. We have to talk it over with people we trust and make sure that addiction recovery remains at the top of our list of priorities.
It’s important to remember that most of our problems weren’t caused by external events or circumstances beyond our control. In most cases, our biggest problems have been caused by our own choices.
Choosing to relocate can be a positive change if it is done for the right reasons. But a geographical cure won’t save us from ourselves or the part of us that is still in the process of healing. One day at a time, we can continue to gradually make healthier choices, and we don’t have to move to a new environment to do that.