We have many people ask if it’s a good idea to relocate amidst a struggle. This question is most commonly asked by a peer or family member of the person struggling. In some ways, that person might be set on moving during active addiction but the family member is having second thoughts. They are rightly concerned as this can be an area of trouble, or more likely, a repetition of the same problems. How should we break this question down? The simplest answer involves the presence or absence of a recovery plan.
If a person feels that moving to a different town or state will solve problems, they probably are wrong. The active response of the person might be one of ‘flight,’ which is very common in addictive disorders. As you might expect, the person’s problems are likely to follow them wherever they might go. This might include active drinking patterns, relationship choices or frustrations with a career.
The choice to move can be especially bad if it is primarily for a romantic relationship. The pulls of the heart can be very strong, and it can be almost impossible to convince someone to focus on their health in the midst of this attachment. For toxic and dramatic relationships, a relocation will probably fall apart. If you are a supportive family member, this can make the experience even worse as now you will be miles apart from the person you love and your ability to help would be limited!
On the other hand, if the person is relocating as part of their treatment plan, it might be beneficial. This question is commonly asked in our treatment at CeDAR. We have people who feel that their hometown is very limited to them, especially as it pertains to supportive resources. For individuals who live in rural areas or underserved areas, it can be almost impossible to find a support group or therapist, never mind a structured treatment approach such as Intensive Outpatient (IOP). These people find that a region with more support can help them remain in recovery.
Overall, this question is best answered by another question – Is the person addressing their addiction or running from it? Moving during active addiction to a new location out of avoidance or fear is destined to fail; pursing an area to engage in supportive people and a life of change can be worth the effort.