Does relocating during recovery help?


Sydney Schulz on February 16, 2021 at 10:45 AM

By Jessica Pears

Recovery is a Journey that never really ends. And it won't be easy. However, if you have started your journey to recovery, you can rest assured that the hardest part is already behind you. Still, during the turbulences you could go through, you may wonder if significant changes such as relocating during recovery help. How is another stress going to benefit you? But, sometimes, a change of space might be just what you need to change your life. Moving to a new city can be your opportunity to start afresh in a new environment. 

Nevertheless, bear in mind that experts in this field advise against major life changes during the first year of sobriety. But, after you have passed this milestone, moving away from everything that reminds you of your previous life could be the right option for you. On the other hand, if the area where you live is a toxic one that could harm your recovery from the very beginning, relocation might ensure your success. It's paramount to consider your situation carefully before making any hasty decisions. Every person is different, and everyone's journeys are different. Therefore, you must look at relocation from every angle to determine if it's right for you.

When can relocating during recovery help?

It's a widely known fact that one of the pillars of success in recovery is having an adequate support system. If this is missing from your current location, moving to a new one could be the way to go. Also, as mentioned, if you currently live in a toxic environment, if the relationships you have formed there are toxic or triggering, leaving could be the best thing for your recovery. 

Other more practical but also beneficial sides of relocating are employment opportunities and lower costs of living. A new, more fulfilling job that provides more stability and structure could also help your healing. Furthermore, a new city may offer better treatment facilities and sober networks than your current residence. 

When can relocating during recovery harm?

As we have mentioned, many experts don't recommend making any significant life changes during the early stages of recovery. It's a sensitive and emotionally demanding process. So, consistencies such as remaining in the same area, keeping the same job, building a support network could provide the stability you need. Having this as a core of your life can prove tremendously helpful in case of relapse and the need to get back on track. Therefore, if the environment you are in now is a positive one, leaving it behind can be very harmful. 

Therefore, if you are considering uprooting your life only because you believe that distancing from the difficulties will help you, don't do it. Moving can be perceived as a form of escapism rather than a change that could help you on your healing journey. It can put you in a harmful situation. Don't react impulsively and base your decisions on passing emotional states. The move should be an act that will help you with your recovery, not set you back. 

Pros of relocation

As you have seen, moving during the recovery can be beneficial and even necessary sometimes. First and foremost, moving to a new place can give you a chance for a fresh start. There will be a new city to explore; new people will surround you; you will have a new job; there will be many new things to do and try. You get the chance to reinvent yourself in a way. No one will know about your past unless you want them to know. You get a clean slate. Moreover, you get a sort of control over your life without others basing their opinions about you on your potentially bad reputation. In a brand-new environment, you will have more positive things to focus on while building your new life. 

We have already mentioned the benefits of getting away from toxic people and relationships. Even family members can be toxic or function as triggers. It can also be easier to break bad habits if you are away from all that used to trigger you to use or reminds you of using. 

A study that shows how relocation can be beneficial

Just as leaving a positive environment behind could be harmful to your recovery, staying in a negative one could be just as bad. A study published in 1982 in the Archives of General Psychiatry examined this.  Over a period of 20 years, researchers studied 248 persons addicted to opioids and who began in San Antonio, TX. During that time, 171 of the subjects moved 465 times collectively.  54% of these individuals remained abstinent while away from San Antonio. Only 12% abstained from opioid use while back in their hometown.  Within only one month upon their return to San Antonio, 81% of abstinent subjects continued opioid abuse. These staggering figures definitely suggest that moving is the right course of action for many trying to remain drug-free. 

Cons of relocation

Any change can be very stressful. And relocation is one of the biggest changes. So if you are one of the people who get stressed by changes, moving may not be the right option for you during recovery. Also, a sound support system wouldn't be smart to move away from. If you have found an effective therapy group that you like, you should stay with it. So, if you can't find a valid reason for the move, it's best you stay put. 

Relocating and Structured Recovery Homes

In recovery, structure is so important. If a complete relocation isn't feasible for you, consider a local recovery home. Live Rite offers recovery homes in Macomb County to provide a structured way of sober living. Whether you’re moving to Macomb County or somewhere else, structured recovery homes are a great option when relocating. You’ll be surrounded by like minded people to help hold yourselves and each other accountable.


So, does relocating during recovery help? There is no short answer. However, having considered the topic in more detail, the final conclusion can be reached: yes, provided you think carefully about your individual situation. Consider your support system, toxic relationships, stability, tolerance to stress. If you determine that relocating is the right choice for you, proceed to plan the whole process and move to the place that will be more stimulating, and that will foster your progress. If you make a good plan, focus on recovery, and keep your eyes on the prize, moving to a new place can be an excellent way to start afresh. 

By: Jessica Pears


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