Moving might be the right choice, but examine your motives. When we were drinking and using, we were irrational, impulsive, and at the whim of our heartbreakingly horrible decisions. We get into recovery to be more than that.
The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. – Lao Tzu
Wherever you go, there you are. – Unknown
We’ve all heard or tried the myth of the geographic cure: that we can change the unmanageability of our addictions simply by changing locations. The program suggests waiting a year to make major changes in our lives, such as moving to a new place or getting divorced. That suggestion directly contradicts another recovery recommendation: that we should change people, places, and things.
And some of us, myself included, struggle for years or even decades to get to that one-year mark, and finally decide—maybe on our own, maybe after a psychic brings it up dozens of times—that the place we are living in isn’t working for us and it’s time to make a move.
How do you know if it’s a viable idea? Here are five questions to ask yourself when considering a move.
1. Do You Have a Safe, Sustainable Place to Live?
I cannot stress this enough, especially for the dream cities like New York and Los Angeles. Success in one does not necessarily translate to success in another. This may seem like common sense to some of you, but something about Los Angeles, where I currently live, makes people think they can show up with a dream, a few grand, and a month in an AirBnb in Koreatown.
The feeling of home, sanctuary, and security is important for all humans, but it’s of paramount importance for those in recovery. The refrain I frequently hear is: “I never felt like I belonged anywhere.” Well, this feeling is exacerbated dramatically by a less than ideal living situation, so make absolutely sure you have a safe place. Is it as good as or better than where you currently live? And can you stay there for at least four to six months?
2. Is This an Impulse Move?
I’ve wanted to live in California my entire life, so much so that when I partied at the University of Hartford at the ages of 14 and 15, I told everyone I was a student at UCLA. I exposed myself when someone burst into the dorm asking where the Bruin was and I stared blankly ahead, not knowing the mascot of the school I pretended to attend. However, there were other moves I made or contemplated that were pure fantastical escapism; in fact, for a few years while I struggled in fauxbriety (marijuana and/or kratom and kava kava, Adderall, Xanax if you’re holding, mushrooms in the summer), I seriously contemplated moving to nearly every place I visited. I travel for my job as a stand-up, and for a few years I traveled desperately trying to “find myself.” Each and every time, I was sure the move would solve the problem of myself. I am now grateful I didn’t have the money and agency then.
A lot can be said for waiting in recovery. Waiting for the miracle to happen, waiting to date, waiting to speak (so guilty on this), waiting to move. Most things in life that are meant for you will be there when you are ready. Unless you relapse.
Sobriety is the only thing that is imperative to grab onto NOW…
Find out what else you should ask yourself before moving to a new city — such as what your actual motivations are — in the original article So You Want to Move to a New City in Recovery? First Ask Yourself These Five Questions at The Fix.