The Geographic Cure: Why It Doesn’t Work

Addiction is a disease that touches everyone who comes in contact with it; it usurps relationships and family members, and manifests in criminality, isolation, and devastating losses. Whatever has brought the person struggling with the addiction to the point of enough pain and wreckage, they may realize that they must make a change.

The question at hand is how to go about this proposed change. The person battling his or her addiction will likely already have some knowledge of what needs to be done. As it is an isolating disease, they may not be asking for outside help yet, and try to solve it in the way they first used substances to solve their problems: escaping.

While addiction begins in many different ways, substances are used by a person as a means to disassociate from reality so that their problems will leave their mind, if only temporarily. It makes sense that a person with addiction would choose to escape from their situation, and think that would remove the issue entirely. The problem is, just like with using a substance, the problem is an internal one: it will still be there, even if it subsides for a little while. Fleeing town is just an extension of that longing to escape reality, to escape life on life’s terms.

This is where the fight or flight question comes into play, and hence the question of whether a geographical cure could help.


Geographical Cure: Fight or Flight

For a person looking to treat their addiction and change their life, a geographical cure for moving to a brand new place and starting anew might look like a very good option. This is what people often choose before admitting help or going into professional treatment: they are convinced that if they move to a different town, different city, even different country or continent, things will change and they will no longer have their addiction anchoring them. This sounds great in theory, but in practice, it is often one that does the opposite.

While it is true that people, places, and things can hinder a person’s recovery, and these things can change by a physical move, the addiction will remain with the person regardless of the environment. Save for some triggers that may be alleviated, moving as a fix-all solution does not provide a person with the best chances of success.

Should the person relocate and their addiction goes untreated, they will find a new bar. They will find a new dealer. They will find new resources to feed their addiction if they don’t first deal with the root of the issue itself. Addiction can convince the person it afflicts that it is not the problem, which is why it is called ‘insidious’ and ‘cunning’ in AA literature. The only way we can treat the problem is to look at it objectively and heal it with spiritual means.


The Only Way Out is Through

After years of using substances, people are inclined to lean toward comfort. When the relief normally found from drugs or alcohol is no longer available, we have to find the next best thing. This is why many times in early recovery, people are told that they have to get uncomfortable. This is one of the barriers between reality and disassociating with drugs and/or alcohol that has barred us from the real world for so long, and one we must tackle to find our way back into society.

The most comfortable option for treatment would be perceived as least threatening to a person’s current way of life, or one that is more temporary. If the person chooses to attend residential treatment, it will be temporary, but they will be encouraged to examine their past carefully and to go through their wrongdoings. From there they will be able to face the things that need changing in a supportive and structured environment. In order for a person with substance use disorder to get well, and to get comfortable with themselves, they must be uncomfortable first.

Residential treatment and sober living options do provide a person looking to begin a life in recovery a way to remove themselves from their environment so they can face their addiction head-on, with no distractions. If they choose to return home afterward, that is up to them. This process will be painful at times, and will likely bring up deep emotional issues that need therapeutic care and healing. It will require honesty and true commitment to change, but it will be by far the most rewarding. If a person works earnestly toward a life of recovery, free of addiction and all the pain that comes with it, they will no longer feel the need to escape from their life.


Commitment to a New Life in Recovery

When a person finally admits their need for help, timing will be fleeting, and it will be very important. It is crucial to get the process of getting them into treatment in motion. With that said, it is also important to have facts in line to know what will be the best course for their particular situation. Professional treatment is an option many pursue when they come to the realization that they cannot do it on their own. With so many options, it can be hard to know what is the right course to take.

Once a person has taken the steps to address their disease, as the book says, they can go where any free man can go. If they should choose to move to another continent, they can do so freely. While it is true that environmental factors can have an effect on us—for example, one shouldn’t spend time in the alley where they used drugs, or hang out in their old favorite bar all night—it does not mean they can control us in the way they used to.

When a person with Substance Use Disorder is ready to make a change, it is an incredible moment. While each person’s path is different, there has likely been a lot of struggle and pain to get to the point of surrender, and admitting help is needed is a big first step.

If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, our Admission Specialists are available 24/7. Please give us a call today.

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