For many patients in addiction recovery, their pre-treatment lives might have been about substance misuse and unhealthy behaviors that fed their addictive disorder. Even simple daily experiences like going to work might have been disrupted by urges to misuse substances as an addictive disorder began to monopolize their time. This type of constant disruption is one of the main reasons recovery is such a big advocate of structure and routine. The repetition of new, healthier habits counter the unhealthy habits and thought patterns that caused addiction.
Creating healthier habits and promoting structure through new routines is an essential tool in the recovery process, a tool that all clients will be introduced to while undergoing treatment. However, these healthier behaviors need time for actions to become set as a habit. Most individuals in addiction recovery have had a lifetime to create unhealthy and addictive habits. The only way to make new sober behaviors into a habit will be repetition over time. This is why we suggest that those in recovery use caution when choosing to move or vacation in the early stages of their recovery. Any form of disruption when creating a routine or structure to daily life makes it more challenging to establish a new routine and new habits. Disruptions due to moving or travel can promote a familiar feeling of chaos. For those in recovery, their addictive mindsets may latch on to old comforts to regress or relapse.
Moving or Taking Extended Vacations in Early Recovery
Moving in early recovery depends on how grounded an addiction recovery patient is to an area. That is, how aligned their addictive behaviors and their potential support network are to a particular location. The need to create structure and routine in a comfortable environment in which a recovery patient can feel safe in their sobriety is essential. Ideally, this will entail setting-up in a location with an abundance of recovery meetings and family and friends who actively support their sobriety. For most addiction recovery, leaving treatment will mean moving back to the same area they previously lived. A standing support network and familiarity with the area will help transition to a more independent, sober lifestyle. The only downside in this scenario is this is most likely where they developed their substance misuse problem. Avoiding familiar friends and locations where substance misuse occurred will be high on the list of preventative measures when moving back into these locations.
Thus, moving to an entirely new location right after leaving rehab can help the recovery process when it comes to breaking old, unhealthy habits. A change in surroundings can provide a fresh start and do wonders for avoiding the typical behaviors, patterns, and locations that could trigger a relapse. For this type of move to be effective, addiction recovery clients need to move once they leave their inpatient center. They should also ensure that a reliable support network lives nearby as they may be moving away from friends and family. The major downside of moving to an entirely new location means an increased risk of isolation and depression. These feelings of isolation can often resemble previously addictive feelings that could trigger a relapse and sabotage the new location.
Once an area is selected, those in recovery should become grounded and begin building a reliable support network. Efforts should primarily be concentrated on creating a routine similar to the one practiced in a rehab facility or outpatient program. Individuals in early recovery should commit to an area and generally avoid moving or disrupting their routine. This means avoiding big moves to new areas as well as smaller disruptions like vacations. We recommend addiction recovery patients have at least one year of continuous sobriety under their belt before attempting any sort of move or extended vacation. Shorter trips may be acceptable because all work and no play will most certainly be counterproductive to sobriety.
Managing long-term sobriety is work, but that does not mean the process has to be difficult. Addiction recovery patients should find ways to relax within that first year and attempt to limit the scope of those adventures. It would be wise to take baby steps when testing the limits of newfound sobriety — learn to walk before you start to run. Addiction recovery patients will often begin to feel secure in sobriety after short periods of success, and it will be tempting to push the limits. However, patients need to keep in mind that they are in recovery from a debilitating disease, and just as if you broke your leg, you would not want to take a trip to walk around a city. The same type of care and consideration needs to be afforded to recovery from an addictive disorder.
Safe Ways to Disrupt Routine in Later Stages of Recovery
Once individuals feel stable in their sobriety, they can begin to test the waters of changing their routines through extended vacations or even possibly moving. The best way to test those waters is to bring some form of the daily routine with them on the road. Recovery meetings can usually be found no matter where you travel, and you can look up local meetings at vacation spots before leaving. Those in addiction recovery may also find enjoyment from attending a recovery meeting in new surroundings.
If part of a recovery routine involves exercising, then traveling with a pair of running shoes to use the hotel gym would help create feelings of normalcy. Try to keep the same sleep schedule even if the people vacationing with you decide to sleep in. Just because you are on vacation does not mean that your addictive disorder will take a vacation break as well. These are times when patients should be more mindful of the disruptions to routine and structure from their regular daily life.
Those in addiction recovery should also keep in mind routine and structure as they return from an extended trip. Patients may find it challenging to get back into a routine, and it would help them to increase their efforts to get back into daily habits. For example, if exercise is a part of the home routine, patients should exercise at least once a week once they return home. The trick is learning how to re-insert yourself into your regular routines and not let the vacation become a disruption. Those in addiction recovery will need to start to test the limits of their newfound sobriety, and vacation can be a safe way to learn how to cope with disruption to sober living habits. These types of trips can also allow addiction recovery patients to learn how to relax safely in their newfound sobriety.
Substance misuse with co-occurring mental health issues can disrupt the lives of diagnosed individuals and their family and friends. If your life or the life of someone you love has been routinely disrupted by addiction, then Choice House has dual-diagnosis treatment services that can help bring some form of regularity back to life. We offer men the opportunity to achieve initial sobriety, at which point they can begin to learn the necessary skills and preventative measures to promote healthy, sober living habits. As they create a new foundation based on love and empathy, participants in Choice House’s treatment services will be introduced to daily structure and routines that will prove vital to their recovery efforts long after leaving our facilities. These healthier habits taught at our Boulder County facilities include a 90-day inpatient service, an intensive outpatient program, as well as the chance to take up residency at our sober living campus. We understand that substance misuse is a disruptive force to many aspects of an individual’s life. Our staff is dedicated to giving men the necessary guidance and support to place them on the path to long-term sobriety. For more information regarding Choice House facilities or treatment services, please give us a call at (720) 577-4422.