One of the terms commonly thrown out in Alcoholics Anonymous is a “geographic”. A “geographic” is when an individual moves location in an effort to fix the problems in their life, usually as a result of drinking and using. It is widely known that a geographic does not solve the problems of someone in active addiction, but are there valid reasons for switching locales when trying to actually get sober?
Geographics vs. Healthy Environment
Most active alcoholics and addicts who have been using or drinking for an extended period of time in the same place have created a good deal of wreckage as well as a string of unhealthy interpersonal relationships. A geographic takes place when the addict tries to move their environment but does not quit drinking and using, or continues the other unhealthy behaviors that come along with active addiction. The problem with this strategy is that the alcoholic or addict inevitably recreates the same problems in a new location since nothing has changed except for the place that they live. This often happens with individuals who are still in denial that their drug or alcohol abuse is a problem, and want to place the blame on their surroundings instead. There is a marked difference however, between performing a geographic and relocating to a healthier environment with the intention of getting sober.
One big problem, especially for young people trying to get sober, is that entire social circles can often be comprised completely of friends who also drink and abuse drugs. This makes staying sober very difficult. Constantly running into old using buddies and being drawn into old activities that often involved drinking and using is a big obstacle, even for the most determined in early sobriety. Removing these impediments by relocating to a healthier environment can make the beginning stages of recovery much easier.
What Makes a Healthy Environment?
So if a young person is trying to get sober and looking at relocating to remove some of the negative influences of their old stomping grounds, what are the important factors to consider? First and foremost is the presence of a recovery community that is populated by their peers. Most places in America have at least some form of recovery community. Finding somewhere that has a large group of young people is a little more difficult. Southern California is a recovery hotbed for young people, and there are a few other locations that have strong communities. Insuring that there will be like-minded individuals in a new location is very important.
Another important consideration is the presence of sober activities. Getting sober young has to be fun! Having a variety of sober activities to participate in is important because many young people with drug and alcohol problems have become used to deriving most of their recreation almost exclusively from the use of drugs and alcohol. Having new and healthy outlets that don’t involve drugs and alcohol is key when choosing a new environment.
The Best Chance Possible
A geographic without personal change will never solve addiction or the other problems that come along with the lifestyle. Combining an honest effort towards recovery with a new and healthy environment is a recipe for success though. Early sobriety can be difficult enough without the added problems associated with preexisting unhealthy relationships and being actively drawn back to using. A new location won’t get someone sober, but it can be very important in giving someone the best chance possible. Do you or someone you love have any experience with trying to get sober in the same place as an addiction versus trying a fresh start?