The idea of a fresh start somewhere new can be appealing to most people. It is a particularly attractive notion to those individuals who feel they have made a mess of their life. Moving to a new place and starting again can seem like the perfect solution. The problem is that such attempts often end in failure. This is particularly true if the individual is trying to run away from an addiction. As somebody wise once remarked, wherever you go, there you are. In other words, people take their problems with them.
When people attempt to escape their substance abuse problems by changing location it is known as an addiction geographical. In Alcoholic Anonymous, they use the words geographical cure to describe how alcoholics keep moving from place to place to get a fresh start. They may do this many times during the course of their addiction. With each new location they will promise that this time it will be different.
So long as the individual continues to abuse alcohol or drugs, it is doubtful that changing location is going to help them in the long term. The newness of newfound home may temporarily give them hope, but it is likely that old patterns will reemerge. The main reasons why the geographical cure does not work the following:
* The individual will be taking their addiction with them wherever they go. This means that they will continue to experience the suffering that is associated with it. Once an individual becomes addicted to a mind altering substance, they will not be able to regain control. A new location is not going to change this reality.
* There is no location on the planet that is perfect. It is harder to see the faults in a new place, but after a bit of time the cracks do become more obvious. This causes the individual to feel let down and disappointed. They might respond to this by sinking deeper into their addiction.
* Addicts are often driven to move because they wish to avoid facing reality. The sooner they can face their problems the better it will be for them. The problem is not their environment; the problem is them. Until they become willing to tackle their addiction, there can be no real improvement.
* The most typical reason that people turn to substance abuse is an inability to cope with life. A new place will just bring a new set of problems that the individual is unable to cope with. As long as they continue to use alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism, it will be business as usual.
* The only thing good thing in the life of the individual might be friends and family who care about them. Moving away might mean having less contact with these important people. Many addicts completely fall apart without their support network, because there is no reason left to control their behavior. Some could argue that without such support the addict will hit rock bottom faster. This bottom could easily be the grave.
* Changing location is stressful and provides a good excuse for people to increase their use of alcohol and drugs.
* Those who justify the move with the idea they will escape their drinking or drug using friends will usually fall in with a similar crowd at the new location.
Even when people become sober they can continue to fall into the trap of the geographical cure. The idea that the grass is always greener on the other side can be dangerous. When life in sobriety becomes too challenging, the urge to escape reality becomes intense. A new location is an appealing proposition. The geographical cure can be particularly dangerous for people in the early phase of recovery for the following reasons:
* It is recommended that people in the first year of recovery do not make any major life changes. This is because they will already be experiencing plenty of stress in their life as they adapt to life away from their addiction. Moving home is considered to be a major stressor that could tip the newly sober person over the edge.
* People new to recovery will want a strong support network. They will not be able to build this if they move from place to place.
* It is never a good idea to run away from challenges in recovery. These problems will keep on recurring until the individual faces them. There can be little progress in sobriety unless the individual is willing to deal with life on life’s terms.
* Moving away can often be used as a pretense before relapsing. The individual does not want family and friends to know of their plans to return to addiction, so they move away. This person may even try to kid themselves with justification for why they need to move.
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