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A Fresh Start: Should You Travel for Sober Living?

When in crisis, the first instinct is usually to grab the first life raft available, the one that is most familiar and close. The choice feels safe due to its familiarity, and the immediacy of driving down the street for help can provide a sense of immediate relief. But when it comes to treatment for addiction, the quickest, easiest answer is rarely the best possible choice. Addiction treatment should be chosen based on its ability to meet the individual needs of the person seeking treatment, providing:
Should You Travel for Sober Living?

  • Medical detox and medical monitoring, if necessary
  • Treatment for specific co-occurring mental health disorders
  • Treatment for other process addictions
  • A range of therapies and treatments to address issues from different angles
  • Aftercare and support

For many, the unique combination of treatments and therapies that will best serve the individual journey to recovery is not the program that happens to be next door. Rather, it is a program in the mountains, at the beach, in the next state over, or otherwise out of town that is found after a little bit of research and investigation.

Not all treatment programs are created alike, and to jump into the first available program without first checking out other options – no matter where they may be – could be a potentially dire mistake if the chosen program does not have resources to provide needed support and treatment.

A Mental and Physical Shift

The first benefit that many experience when they choose to enroll in an out-of-state rehabilitation program is the complete mental shift in focus that occurs during travel. The very act of packing a bag, heading to the airport, and taking a trip across the country provides mental downtime to assess what is happening and begin the process of refocusing. These hours have proven to be a significant in helping to begin the mental shift that is required to start looking at life through the lens of sobriety as opposed to addiction.

Physical changes can augment that process. At home, it may have been muggy and raining but through the course of travel, the person may be in a completely different climate. The view outside may have been depressingly the same for years but now there are new buildings, roads, and nature to look at. Everything about the process of travel indicates change, and this can be critical for those who are working to break old habits and start a new life that is defined by balance and positive, healthy choices.

Space from Stressors

Space from Stressors

There is a reason – in most cases, multiple reasons – that someone develops an addiction. These issues are often triggered or exacerbated by stressors experienced at home and in life in general. In some cases, these stressors are extreme, such as severe physical ailments, extreme financial hardship, abuse, and other chronic problems, but in other cases, it may be that the stressors that are a “normal” part of life (e.g., bills, family demands, pressure at work or school, etc.) make an individual living with addiction feel unable to function.

Moving out of the house and away from the community in which all those stressors are unavoidable can remove a huge weight from someone beginning a new life in recovery. Distance provides a bit of safety. No bills arrive in the mail. No unexpected phone calls from old friends who do not know that the individual has started the process of dealing with addiction. Leaving town allows someone looking for a new life to immediately feel as if that new life has started and, for the moment, allows them to put the stressors of home on the shelf where they can wait to be addressed later, when the individual feels stronger and more solid in recovery.

A Break from All Relationships

Too often, the few relationships with people who are not using drugs and alcohol that manage to stick during addiction are not healthy. It is impossible for someone who is living with active addiction to be in a healthy relationship with anyone; thus, the illness can “infect” others with whom they spend a great deal of time, even those who genuinely love them and want what’s best for them.

Family members who want their loved one to stop using drugs and alcohol may even inadvertently enable the addiction. Just by continuing to provide a measure of support – financial, physical, or otherwise – or helping them to manage the consequences that arise due to drug use, they may stop the person from experiencing the full brunt of their addiction, giving them room to continue using substances more comfortably than if they did not have that support.

In most recovery programs, a “blackout” period on all communication with people outside of the program is part of the process of acclimating to recovery. This can be a positive time not only for the person in treatment but for family members back home as they start taking steps to recognize the change that is afoot and begin turning that change into an ongoing reality.

A Fresh Start

A Fresh Start

Choosing to enroll in a drug addiction treatment program that requires travel offers the individual in treatment as well as family members the opportunity to create a fresh start in recovery. A new town, even a new state, new faces, and a new environment – all of this empowers those living in active addiction to focus on nothing but recovery, giving themselves permission to dedicate all their time and attention to begin the process of growth and change.

A drug treatment program should be chosen based on its ability to address specific issues that are creating challenges for someone who is attempting to get clean and sober – not just based on location. Take the time to do the research and to find the best possible program for you and your family.

About The Contributor
Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff, American Addiction Centers
The editorial staff of River Oaks Treatment is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed... Read More