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People try all kinds of things before finally admitting defeat where addiction is concerned. There is the usual stage of denial. No one wants to admit that any feature of their lives is actually out of control. It is generally instilled in all of us that as adults, we are in control of ourselves and our lives. As a result, as addiction begins to take over, people simply deny that this is the case. The constant nagging need to get drunk or high is just like everyone else. We are under a lot of stress. Life is just weighing us down. On and on… Of all the classic dodges of addiction and denial, one of the last ditch efforts is the so called geographical cure.
As someone starts to realize that their drinking and/or using is getting the better of them, they decide that they just need to get away from their environment. For some, they conclude that it is no wonder they drink too much. They live in a “drinking town.” Everyone they know drinks and drinks heavily. So, getting away from all that will be just the thing.
This “cure” happens more often than anyone would like to admit. It is not completely unfounded either. It makes sense that as we get mired in a daily grind that becomes nothing more than work, drinking, sleep, work, drinking, etc. that removing ourselves from this cycle will necessarily interrupt the cycle of drinking and using. Often the geographical cure does work for a while. As people find themselves in a new place and no longer surrounded by those who facilitated their drinking and drugging, they find it easier to say no to the substances. Yet, almost without exception, people drift back to their old habits.
Why people drift back to old habits is due to the fact that addiction is much more than a habit. Once a person has developed the symptoms and patterns of addiction it is difficult to completely shed those patterns without some kind of outside help. Whether that help comes from the support of family and friends or from a qualified program of treatment is up to the individual. What is certain is that once someone has fallen into the grip of addiction. A change in environment really just amounts to delaying the inevitable.
Alcoholism and substance abuse are problems which are deeply embedded in our bodies, minds, and psyches. Addiction is the result of a variety of factors. It is genetic, social, and environmental. Once addiction has developed, the patterns of coping and thinking one ordinarily applies to everyday life become distorted. For these reasons, a change in geography may well interrupt the progress of addiction, but it is unlikely to stop it.
Addicted people will inevitably find their way back to the types of behaviors which compel them to drink and/or use. Unless the addiction itself, not the incidental aspects of addiction like the city or town we live in, is treated and dealt with, addiction will most likely progress. The geographical cure is tempting, but in the long run, it is an illusion.
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