I have known many people who truly believe they’ll be able to remain sober by moving their life somewhere new, usually far away from where they’ve been acting out in their addiction. This is something that the 12 Step rooms of recovery refer to as a geographical cure.
Recently, one person I know who has chronically succumbed to alcohol and drug addiction in their hometown opted to move their life to a very remote place on the west coast in the middle of nowhere basically. And they’ve made it very well known that their life there is far more stable and addiction free.
While I am definitely happy for anyone who finds a reprieve from their addiction, the reality of geographical cures, like a remote move to the middle of nowhere, is that they don’t fix anything in the long run and the addiction always returns at some point.
How do I know that? From experience.
I’ve moved about 7 times in my life to brand new areas, brand new states, brand new everything, truly believing I’d left my addictions behind and guess what? I hadn’t. Why? Because addiction isn’t based upon a city or town or state or any location whatsoever. It’s based upon something within us. And wherever we move, our addiction and our addiction tendencies go with us.
While they may not rear their ugly heads initially somewhere else and while sobriety may even last for a period somewhere new, circumstances always seem to arise that eventually cause one’s addiction to surface again.
The only solution I’ve ever found to preventing addiction from rearing its ugly head, is to go deeper, to look within me at all those broken places, character defects, resentments, fears, etc. It’s those things that consistently have always become my driving force for each one of the addictions and addiction behaviors I’ve ever resorted to.
I used to think that it would be great to head off to Nepal into the mountains and spend time in some sort of Buddhist monastery where I wouldn’t be tempted to do any of my former addictions. But after spending time in enough places in this country and around the globe, I saw how many times I kept bringing myself wherever I went and how I kept falling back into addictions. I eventually realized through one failed move after another that even at a mountainous Buddhist monastery, addiction would somehow find me. It was then I saw how geographical cures were all about running from oneself and avoidance of all those inner demons. Geographical cures are great to the ego and the addict mentality because they’re simply just another way to avoid looking at oneself by allowing the newness of somewhere else to take higher precedence over looking within.
Currently, my ego has been begging me to do a geographical cure again after many years of staying put. It’s no secret that I’ve struggled with my life here in Toledo, Ohio over the past few years and I know it’s 100% connected to all my health issues and this constant feeling of being alone and empty within. I often find my ego talking about how Tampa, Florida is calling my name and things would be better there. But frankly, thanks to the strength of my recovery program, I know my health issues, and feeling alone and empty would only follow me there after the newness of the warmer climate, the change of recovery meetings, the proximity to the ocean, and whatever else there was different wore off.
The fact is, true joy and peace don’t come from where one lives, it comes from within. Yet, a geographical move often convinces the addict’s brain that it will bring a cure to their disease. The reality is that it doesn’t and never will, because the true path to sobriety comes from remaining still. It comes from taking a hard look in the mirror in that stillness, it comes from walking through one’s deep-seated fears and resentment in that stillness, and it comes from finding a Higher Power to guide one through it all in that stillness.
Nevertheless, I wish the very best to anyone who makes a drastic move to somewhere new in the hopes to find sobriety from their addiction, as maybe there, they’ll eventually be forced to face the truth that their disease is still within them, waiting for the right circumstances to arise once more.
That’s why my best advice to anyone considering a move in the hopes it will eradicate their addiction is to remain exactly where they are and start working a recovery program instead. Work it until you find peace and joy and sobriety, as then your Spirit will be the one making the decision as to whether you’re actually meant to move somewhere new or not, rather than your ego. Letting your ego make the decision though is only going to bring your addiction and its chaos wherever you choose to go…
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson