In the world of recovery, there are oft-repeated sayings and stories for nearly any issue a newly recovering person may face. For example, if you go to 12-step meetings, you will hear many speakers share their experiences about trying to run away from their addiction. They tell the story of how they tried to move to another neighborhood, city, state, or even country, to escape their addiction and have a fresh new start with a life free of drugs.
The moral of the story of physically moving to another location to get away from drugs is that it doesn’t work. They say that wherever you go, you are still there. The same problems that led you to drugs are still with you. Drugs are everywhere, so even in a new town where you don’t know anybody, you will eventually find ways to get drugs again.
Of course, with legal drugs, like alcohol, the search for new supply is not hard at all. A quick walk to the nearest convenience store will reveal a new alcohol dealer, happy to sell you as much as you want. The availability of drugs and lack of inner change with respect to the sudden external change means that there is a good chance that drug use will resume, even after a significant move away from the place where you used drugs.
So, is travel in early recovery from addiction, not a good idea? Is it not helpful to get away from everything, even if it is only for a few days, weeks, or months? While there are few, if any, studies to evaluate the value of travel in supporting addiction recovery, I have observed positive results for patients in specific situations.
Of course, traveling in the early days of recovery should be done in a structured setting. If you are going to go away on vacation just a short time after you stopped using drugs or alcohol, it is important to have solid support from people whom you can trust. For example, It can be good to travel with your family with spouse, parent, or siblings who are clean of drugs and will support you.
One good thing about getting away from home with your loved ones is that the focus will be more on the vacation and travel than on your issues of past drug use. Also, traveling is a way that you can reconnect with your loved-ones, forming new memories of unforgettable travel experiences where you are clean and free of drugs and alcohol.
Another benefit of travel very early in recovery is that it can be a saved point in time to help you remember when you first got clean and sober. While writing and keeping a good journal can help as well, going away on a trip and taking photos with your smartphone will save memories as well as time and location stamps. Fortunately, with modern smartphone technology, photos can be saved forever and they store the date, time, and location of the photo.
This means that years later, when you may have forgotten exactly when you finally had that epiphany that drugs and alcohol were stealing away the life you truly wanted to live and that change was possible, you may remember that trip to New York, California, Florida, or even Europe. Wherever you were at that pivotal moment, you simply have to look back through your photos. Modern photo storing services make searching by location an easy task.
Another option for travel altogether is to go on a recovery tour to fascinating world locations. There is an incredible organization called Recovery Trekking that provides this service. As an alternative to rehab, that may even be covered by health insurance, the Recovery Trekking guides take their groups on beautiful, historic pilgrimages.
Imagine walking the Camino de Santiago in the north of Spain. This famous, well-known route is known for being a place of spiritual reflection. Recovery Trekking guides walk with their groups along this historical path, supporting the individual recovery of individual members. They also host group meetings, similar to AA meetings, where moderated open discussions about recovery take place.
So, while moving alone to a new city without making any other life changes may not be the solution to quitting drugs and alcohol, going away for a while can be a positive experience. Of course, this should come after initiating proper psychological and medical care for addiction. Before planning your trip of a lifetime, plan to see your doctor first to get a health checkup and start a proper treatment plan to get your life back on track.