Most of us would agree that moving house is up there on the list of extremely stressful life events. When you are new to recovery and first establishing sober living as your way of life, any added stressors can spell disaster. That is why most addiction treatment centres suggest avoiding any unnecessary major life changes in the first year of recovery — such as starting a new romance or relocating.
Of course in reality, moving in early recovery is sometimes necessary and even beneficial to your quest for sober living. If you have unhealthy roommate situations, or live where drugs and alcohol are readily available and used, moving will certainly be a better option for sustaining sober living than staying put. Other situations such as losing one’s home due to financial difficulty or new employment opportunities may also necessitate moving while in early recovery.
If you must move within the first year, it is best to be prepared for the stress and keep your dedication to sober living in mind as you choose a new home.
Sober Living Tips: Things to Consider When Choosing a New Location
If you are new to addiction recovery and considering moving there are certain things you should think about when choosing a new location — some situations and places will be more ideal than others for sober living.
1. How many bars are nearby?
Having a neighbourhood bar within walking distance is definitely not ideal for the newly sober person and will be tempting. If possible try to choose a location that offers other places to meet new people nearby, such as a park, coffee shop or library.
2. What type of social support will you have?
Loneliness is one of the biggest relapse triggers and it is important to keep this in mind as you decide to move. Moving on its own is stressful enough, but finding your way in a new place is equally or even more stressful, and can often take months. Early recovery may not be the best time to move to an entirely new city, as you will inevitably experience loneliness. Try to choose a place where you know at least one supportive friend or family member.
3. Are there recovery meetings in the area?
One thing to consider is if there will be convenient recovery meetings in your new area. If at all possible, research and find a new recovery group before you move to a new neighbourhood, so you know you will have support nearby and can easily continue working towards long-term recovery.
4. Who will you be living with?
Who you are sharing a home with will greatly impact your recovery, and may be the reason you must move in the first place. Having a roommate can be financially beneficial and good roommates can also help ward off loneliness — but these people should be conducive to your recovery, not a threat. Fortunately there are websites that can help you find a sober roommate who will share the importance of sober living with you.
Keeping these considerations in mind will help you make wise choices that support your recovery. Next, prepare yourself for the actual move.
Sober Living Tips: Make Moving Less Stressful
Making life changes is not suggested in early recovery because life changes are generally stressful and can take your focus away from sober living, making you vulnerable to relapse. Stress is another one of the most common relapse triggers, so if you must move, use these moving tips to make it as stress-free as possible.
1. Make a to-do list.
Making a moving to-do list is one of the best ways to get organised early on. It may feel overwhelming to list out everything you need to do, but take a deep breath and know it will help you avoid procrastinating to the point of stress overload.
2. Start packing early.
As soon as you know that you will be moving, start packing! This will be a great time to purge and get rid of anything you do not use or need. The less stuff you have to move, the less stressful it will be — guaranteed. Make sure to get plenty of boxes and tape so you do not have to run out for more supplies in the middle of packing.
3. Pack with Purpose.
Pack one room at a time and label boxes. Even though it seems faster and easier to just throw things in boxes at random, taking time to properly label boxes with their contents will make unpacking exponentially less stressful.
4. Take breaks.
Most importantly, as you prepare to move, take frequent breaks and attend to stress as soon as you feel it creeping in. Use stress relief techniques such as exercising, meditation, or a hot bath to manage stress early. Letting stress build up could put you on the fast track to relapse.
5. Eat well.
It may be tempting to rely on fast food and sugar-filled snacks when you are busy packing and moving, but eating healthfully will do wonders for keeping your stress low. If you make eating well a priority and plan in advance by having healthy snacks available, you can feel good knowing your body is getting what it needs.
6. Ask for help.
Hiring professional movers will significantly decrease the stress of moving, but if it is not possible, enlist the help of family and friends.
7. Take off from work.
One of the biggest mistakes people make in early recovery is taking on too much. Taking a few days off from work surrounding your moving day will keep you from becoming overwhelmed.
8. Double check details.
There is nothing worse than packing all your belongings and arriving at a new place only to find out your move-in date is next week. Take the time to double check the details of your new arrangements and save yourself the panic of finding out there was a miscommunication.
9. Keep your recovery first.
No matter what, as you prepare to move, your recovery must still come first. Use your relapse prevention plan, make time to continue attending recovery meetings, and follow the tips above to keep your stress level as low as possible.
Moving can give you a fresh start as long as you keep your commitment to sober living in mind throughout the process.