If you've decided to relocate after entering addiction recovery, it's important to find the right home that will promote your continued sobriety and overall wellness. You'll want to find a place that helps you create a healthy, consistent routine without throwing you into the path of old triggers. You'll also want a loving environment to rebuild your relationships and bond with your family, a place where you can heal and focus on your recovery.
Let this be your guide to finding the best new home to keep your addiction recovery on track. It will discuss considerations to make about your new neighborhood, the home itself and other advice on ways to make your new environment promote a healthy life. As you explore your options, be sure to keep your partner informed about your thoughts and make each decision a joint consensus.
THE RIGHT NEIGHBORHOOD
We recognize that depending on where you live or are relocating to, meeting every one of these standards can be a challenge. Take each factor into consideration and decide with your partner which ones are most important to your family. Share these priorities and any other concerns with your real estate agent, as well as which compromises you're willing to make.
One of the most important qualities of your new neighborhood should be that it's nowhere near the places you regularly used drugs and alcohol before your recovery. Whether it's the bar you frequented after work or the park where you met your dealer, give yourself as much distance from them as possible. You may not always be able to avoid them, but the less frequently you have to pass them, the better. It's much easier to focus on your sobriety without having to run into reminders of your past.
This might mean keeping distance from friends or family you once used substances with - if they are still using, it could put your recovery at risk. Talk to your sponsor about how to best handle these kinds of situations, and take their words to heart. It might be best to keep your distance for now, but leave the door open for communication later when you're in a stronger place in your sobriety.
You should also try to make your new surroundings as convenient as possible. Be sure there's a grocery store nearby, and a dry cleaner or laundromat if you'll need them. If you'll be traveling by car on a regular basis, it never hurts to be within a mile or two of a gas station if you can help it. For mass transit travelers, check out the local bus, train and subway maps for the different areas you're considering. Make it as easy as possible on yourself to get what you need in your immediate surroundings, and simple enough to travel that it won't constantly be a daunting task. You want your daily routine to be as stress-free as possible, so look for opportunities as you search for housing.
For many people, living near their job is the ultimate convenience. Do keep in mind that it's important to give yourself some level of distance between work and home since people discover that living too close to work makes them feel like they never really leave. This can be especially stressful when you're focusing on your sobriety, so consider your situation carefully. Some people have no trouble separating the two and find the convenience of living close to the office and walking to work a major stress-reducer; others might prefer a slightly longer commute to keep things more compartmentalized. At the very least, make sure it's easy for you to make it to work on time on foot or bike, via public transportation or by car if you have one.
Depending on your location, there are all kinds of positive attributes to look for in your new part of town. If you hope to spend more time outdoors, you might want to house-hunt near local hiking trails. Many fitness and recreation centers are near neighborhoods, so if you're planning on joining a gym or rec sport league, it might be helpful to look in those areas. For those looking to nurture their faith and their sobriety, consider which areas have religious centers; many churches hold local sobriety group meetings, so even if you aren't religious you may benefit from living near one. Local schools should be a consideration for parents or anyone hoping to start a family in the future. You might also appreciate having nearby sober activities: outdoor cafes, frozen yogurt, go karts and mini golf are just a few options.
THE RIGHT HOME
One of the first questions you'll need to answer is how big of a home you're looking for. It's crucial to strike the balance between having enough room for the entire family and having too much room. While bigger might initially seem better, a larger home means more to maintain - not to mention a bigger financial burden. Don't limit yourself to the bare minmum, but don't go overboard either: you don't want to end up feeling isolated in a tiny apartment, nor do you want to feel overwhelmed from the upkeep of a large house. In the interest of your recovery, your home should make you feel relaxed and completely at-ease.
There isn't a perfect recipe for finding the right home, but there are certainly a few special considerations to make for the best recovery environment. Look past how the place looks now and focus on imagining the future: can you picture yourself settling into that bedroom each evening, and peacefully waking up in the mornings? Perhaps you imagine yourself enjoying the view of a nearby lake from the kitchen window as you drink coffee and prepare for the day ahead. Does the yard seem big enough for your kids to play in? Can you picture having your friends over for dinner? Think about what truly makes a house a home, then see how your potential options fit in.
Make sure to tell your partner not only about what's most important to you in a home, but why. He or she may have never realized that you really need a dedicated office or appreciate having a bigger kitchen to cook in, so take the opportunity to continue being honest about what you need and want.
Your home should be a pleasant place to both start and end your day, and one you look forward to returning to as you're clocking out of work. Consider finding a home that allows you to have your own space - be it an entire room or just a specific area - to dedicate to time and activities supporting your recovery. You can use it to express yourself through journaling or another art form, or as a quiet space to meditate when you're feeling overwhelmed. Your family will only be able to understand a limited amount of what you're dealing with, so having your own private space as an outlet in the home is crucial.
Don't be afraid to get a home that's very different from your last. Having completely new surroundings can be a positive way to start a new chapter and an opportunity to remedy any problems from your past house. For instance, if you hated battling your neighbors for parking in the past, make sure to look at houses with a garage or dedicated street parking. If your last living room was cramped, look for a home with an open common area. Your new home is an excellent opportunity to make even more positive changes.
THE RIGHT ORGANIZATION
Before moving into your new home, you must get rid of any items that might act as triggers. You'll need to throw out any drugs or alcohol, as well as any items tied to their use. You don't necessarily have to throw out the wine glasses you got for Christmas, but you should keep them boxed up and very out of reach. For now, it's best that your home has zero reminders of any off-limits substances. If your partner has any medications (both prescription and over-the-counter) he or she will need, they should be stored in some kind of locked cabinet or safe that only he or she has access to. Keep the storage space itself as out of sight as possible, too.
Eliminating triggers might mean having some honest conversations with your partner about your past substance abuse. If you used to come home from work and sit in a specific chair while you used, for instance, you might decide it's best to donate the chair and find something else for your new place. Of course, there will be many items that might be able to somehow relate to your past, but focus on the items that seem defined by the fact; if you can't look at the chair and see anything but your old habit, it's worth it to eliminate it from your life.
In theme with a fresh start, try new things with your furniture placement, too. Create open spaces that are pleasant to spend time in, and make the most of any natural sunlight you have. Eliminate clutter as much as possible - even if you think you're use to it, your mind often can't relax when things are messy. Even your decor is an opportunity to think simple and calming; trade out the things that can make your mind swim for those that put it at ease. A painting of a busy city street could be switched out with a calm landscape scene instead, or perhaps a potted plant could replace the art altogether.
If you have children, consider adding devoted toy bins to each room as a way to eliminate clutter quickly and easily. Talk to them about the importance of keeping the new home tidy, and don't be afraid to be honest. Let them know that you're going through a stressful time and need their help to keep things under control, and note that you'll do your part to keep things nice, too.
To maintain your beautiful new home, there are all kinds of habits to get into and techniques to try, so find what works best for your family and schedule. Most importantly, make it a part of your regular routine: put dishes away as soon as they're dry, clear your lower level's floor of clutter before heading upstairs for the night, and tidy up the kitchen after you've had a snack. Consider responsible living an important part of your recovery: at the very least, its a way of showing your family you're committed to your new way of life each and every day.
The right home for your recovery might look different than someone else's or from how you ever imagined it would be. Keep your mind open and the communication flowing among you, your partner, and your real estate agent. Try not to agonize over the details, and focus more on the exciting, fresh start you're about to embark on with your loved ones.
This guide is written for individuals, and their family and friends, who are looking for options to address alcohol problems. It is intended as a resource to understand what treatment choices are available and what to consider when selecting among them.
When is it time for treament?
Alcohol-related problems -- which result from drinking too much, too fast, or too often -- are among the most significant public health issues in the U.S.
Many people struggle with controlling their drinking at some time in their lives. Approximately 17 million adults ages 18 and older have an alcohol use disorder (AUD) and 1 in 10 million children live in a home with a parent who has a drinking problem.
Does treatment work?
The good news is that no matter how severe the problem may seem, most people with an alcohol use disorder can benefit from some form of treatment.
Research shows that about one-third of people who are treated for alcohol problems have no further symptoms 1 year later. Many others substantially reduce their drinking and report fewer alcohol-related problems.
Signs of an alcohol problem:
Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a medical condition that doctors diagnose when a patient's drinking causes distress or harm. The condition can range from mild to severe and is diagnosed when a patient answers "yes" to two or more of the following questions.
In the past year, have you:
1. Had times when you ended up drinking more, or longer than you intended?
2. More than once wanted to cut down or stop drinking, or tried to, but couldn't?
3. Spent a lot of time drinking? Or being sick or getting over the aftereffects?
4. Experienced craving -- a strong need, or urge, to drink?
5. Found that drinking -- or being sick from drinking -- often interfered with taking care of your home or family? Or caused job troubles? Or school problems?
6. Continued to drink even though it was causing trouble with your family or friends?
7. Given up or cut back on activities that were important or interesting to you, or gave you pleasure, in order to drink?
8. More than once gotten into situations while or after drinking that increased your chances of getting hurt (such as driving, swimming, using machinery, walking in a dangerous area, or having unsafe sex)?
9. Continued to drink even though it was making you feel depressed or anxious or adding to another health problem? Or after having had a memory blackout?
10. Had to drink much more than you once did to get the effect you want? Or found that your usual number of drinks had much less effect than before?
11. Found that when the effects of alcohol were wearing off, you had withdrawal symptoms, such as trouble sleeping, shakiness, irritability, anxiety, depression, restlessness, nausea, or sweating? Or sensed things that were not there?
If you have any of these symptoms, your drinking may already be a cause for concern. The more symptoms you have, the more urgent the need for change. A health professional can conduct a formal assessment of your symptoms to see if an alcohol use disorder is present. For an online assessment of your drinking pattern, go to RethinkingDrinking.niaaa.nih.gov.
Options for treatment:
When asked how alcohol problems are treated, people commonly think 12-step programs or 28-day inpatient rehab, but may have difficulty naming other options. In fact, there are a variety of treatment methods currently available, thanks to significant advances in the field over the past 60 years.
Ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all solution, and what may work for one person may not be a good fit for someone else. Simply understanding the different options can be an important first step.
Types of treatment:
1. Behavioral Treatmens:
Behavioral treatments are aimed at changing drinking behavior through counseling. They are led by health professionals and supported by studies showing they can be beneficial.
Three medications are currently approved in the U.S. to help people stop or reduce their drinking and prevent relapse. They are prescribed by a primary care physician or other health professional and may be used alone or in combination with counseling.
3. Mutual-Support Groups:
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and other 12-step programs provide peer support for people quitting or cutting back on their drinking. Combined with treatment led by health professionals, mutual-support groups can offer a valuable added layer of support.
Due to the anonymous nature of mutual-support groups, it is difficult for researchersto determine their success rates compared with those led by health professionals.
Start with a primary care doctor:
For anyone thinking about treatment, talking to a primary care physician is an important first step -- he or she can be a good source for treatment referrals and medications. A primary care physician can also:
1. Evaluate whether a patient's drinking pattern is risky
2. Help craft a treatment plan
3. Evaluate overall health
4. Assess if medications for alcohol may be appropriate
An ongoing process:
Overcoming an alcohol use disorder is an ongoing process, one which can include setbacks.
The importance of persistence:
Because an alcohol use disorder can be a chronic relapsing disease, persistence is key. It is rare that someone would go to treatment once and then never drink again. More often, people must repeatedly try to quit or cut back, experience recurrences, learn from them, and then keep trying. For many, continued followup with a treatment provider is critical to overcoming problem drinking.
Relapse is part of the process:
Relapse is common among people who overcome alcohol problems. People with drinking problems are most likely to relapse during periods of stress or when exposed to people or places associated with past drinking.
Just as some people with diabetes or asthma may have flare-ups of their disease, a relapse to drinking can be seen as a temporary set-back to full recovery and not a complete failure. Seeking professional help can prevent relapse -- behavioral therapies can help people develop skills to avoid and overcome triggers, such as stress, that might lead to drinking. Most people benefit from regular checkups with a treatment provider. Medications also can deter drinking during times when individuals may be at a greater risk of relapse (e.g., divorce, death of a family member).
Mental health issues and alcohol use disorder:
Depression and anxiety often go hand in hand with heavy drinking. Studies show that people who are alcohol dependent are two to three times as likely to suffer from major depression or anxiety over their lifetime. When addressing drinking problems, it's important to also seek treatment for any accompanying medical and mental health issues.
Advice for friends and family members:
Caring for a person who has problems with alcohol can be very stressful. It is important that as you try to help your loved one, you find a way to take care of yourself as well. It may help to seek support from others, including friends, family, community and support groups. If you are developing your own symptoms of depression or anxiety, think about seeking professional help for yourself. Remember that your loved one is ultimately responsible for managing his or her illness.
However, your participation can make a big difference. Based on clinical experience, many health providers believe that support from friends and family members is important in overcoming alcohol problems. But friends and family may feel unsure about how best to provide the support needed. The groups for family and friends listed below under Resources may be a good starting point.
Remember that changing deep habits is hard, takes time, and requires repeated efforts. We usually experience failures along the way, learn from them, and then keep going. Alcohol use disorders are no different. Try to be patient with your loved one. Overcoming this disorder is not easy or quick.
Pay attention to your loved one when he or she is doing better or simply making an effort. Too often we are so angry or discouraged that we take it for granted when things are going better. A word of appreciation or acknowledgement of a success can go a long way.
Your doctor, primary care and mental health practitioners can provide effective alcoholism treatment by combining new medications with brief counseling visits. To aid clinicians, NIAAA has developed two guides:
1. Helping Patients Who Drink Too Much, and for younger patients, 2. Alcohol Screening and Brief Interventions for Youth: A Practitioner's Guide. Both are available at www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/clinical-guides-and-manuals.
For specialty addiction treatment options, contact your doctor, health insurance plan, local health department, or employee assistance program. Other resources include:
Medical and non-medical addiction specialists:
American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry
American Psychological Association
1-800-964-2000 (ask for your state's referral number to find psychologists with addiction specialties)
American Society of Addiction Medicine
301-656-3920 (ask for the phone number of your state's chapter)
NAADAC Substance Abuse Professionals
National Association of Social Workers
www.helpstartshere.org (search for social workers with addiction specialties)
Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
212-870-3400 or check your local phone directory under "Alcoholism"
Secular Organizations for Sobriety
Women for Sobriety
Groups for family and friends:
Al-Anon Family Groups
1-888-425-2666 for meetings
Adult Children of Alcoholics
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
National Institute on Drug Abuse
National Institute of Mental Health
National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information
Research shows that most people who have alcohol problems are able to reduce their drinking or quit entirely.
There are many roads to getting better. What is important is finding yours.
Understanding the available treatment options -- from behavioral therapies and medicationsto mutual-support groups -- is the first step. The important thing is to remain engaged in whatever method you choose.
Ultimately, receiving treatment can improve your chances of success.
Suicide causes immeasurable pain, suffering, and loss to individuals, families, and communities nationwide. On average, 112 Americans die by suicide each day. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-24 year olds and more than 9.4 million adults in the United States had serious thoughts of suicide within the past 12 months. But suicide is preventable, so it's important to know what to do. For more information, go to www.sprc.org.
WARNING SIGNS OF SUICIDE:
If someone you know is showing one or more of the following behaviors, he or she may be thinking about suicide. Don't ignore these warning signs. Get help immediately.
1. Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself.
2. Looking for a way to kill oneself.
3. Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
4.Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
5. Talking about being a burden to others.
6. Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
7. Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.
8. Sleeping too little or too much.
9. Withdrawing or feeling isolated.
10. Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
11. Displaying extreme mood swings.
If you or some one you know needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Trained crisis workers are available to talk 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you think someone is in immediate danger, do not leave him or her alone -- stay there and call 911.
Source: Mental Health.Gov