There are certain experiences in life that are considered high-stress: death, divorce, loss of a job and a major illness are all considered to be the top contributors. However, many people underestimate just how traumatic a move can be, even under positive circumstances. The farther the move, the more complicated the situation—and higher the stress. Like any other life changes, it’s a good idea for those of us in recovery to be aware and plan accordingly.
The Importance of Community and Support
It’s no surprise that moving is a lot of work. There’s usually a lot to do in a very limited amount of time. Addicts in recovery can also be very stubborn and think that we can handle trials all on our own. However, just because you can, it doesn’t mean that you should. Why make things harder than they need to be?
That’s what makes the recovery community so special: we are there for each other! Having an established support group and being active in a recovery community provides essential support, feedback and insight in a very busy time in life. It will also help you avoid loneliness and isolation, which can more easily lead to relapse.
If this sounds overly pessimistic, it helps to keep in mind that big changes are frequently the catalyst to many struggles in recovery. Preparation and action can help you transition smoothly into your new environment, develop a new support group and remain in contact with your old one, all the while strengthening your recovery along the way as you face more fears and strengthen your coping skills.
A Fresh, New Start
Once you’ve made the move and are finally settling in your new environment, it’s time to take a deep breath and dive in. Remember how it was like when you were brand new in recovery. What did you do after you got out of residential treatment? Perhaps you immersed yourself in meetings every day, snatching up service commitments and participating in every possible activity. Those things helped you build a foundation that made it possible for you to stay sober and change your life. No matter where you are at in your recovery now, imagine that you are beginning your recovery anew and jump in with both feet.
Here are a few simple steps you can take to make your transition go even more smoothly:
- Plan ahead: Ideally, you should already have the meeting schedule for your new town before you arrive. Set a number for how many meetings a week you are going to attend and strive to keep that commitment.
- Stay connected: Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and reach out to friends. Let them know what is going on—-just because you’ve moved doesn’t mean you have to lose contact with your old support group.
- Accept invitations: Even if it makes you uncomfortable to go out for coffee, dinner or other activities with new people, try to push yourself. Sometimes it takes stepping out of your comfort zone to find the community you’ve been looking for.
- Get involved: Tell people you are looking for a service commitment and take whatever is offered, no matter how small it is. Remember, any service is going to help and will make you feel better.
- Find a sponsor: Ask people who have a good program who the sponsors are and get one as soon as possible.
- Tune in to yourself: Be observant if you are feeling isolated, overwhelmed or having thoughts of using. No matter how much time you have, we all struggle with those thoughts. You may also consider meeting with a therapist if you find that you require extra support in your transition.
Moving to a new place and making friends is scary but the longer you wait, the harder it will be to get yourself out there. Keep the momentum going and, before you know it, you’ll feel right at home. Remember, we can only keep what we have by giving it away, so the next time someone stumbles in from out of town, be that person to welcome them to the neighborhood and offer to make their stay just a bit easier.