The Benefits of Traveling for Addiction Treatment
Can it be Helpful to Travel Away From Home for Rehab?
The short answer: Yes! Here’s why.
The Systems that Reinforce Addiction
Addiction to drugs or alcohol develops in, and continues to be reinforced by our environment, or the “systems” in which we find ourselves, such as our family, friends, or community. If the environment and people around us reinforce our addictive behaviors, it will be extremely difficult to change without taking a step away from them for a period of time.
When people use substances in destructive, repetitive, and addictive patterns, they are doing so within a greater system. For example, many people learn from their family system that the way in which they celebrate is by using alcohol. Conversely, they may also learn that when things are hard, and people are going through difficult times in their life, that they use alcohol because the pain of the situation is too great to feel. You often hear the story of the alcoholic who drinks when he’s feeling good, as a reward, and also drinks when he’s feeling down on himself, to numb the pain. These are simple examples, but they are a common way in which a system may introduce, then reinforce, maladaptive ways of coping with both pleasurable circumstances as well as painful ones. Other very common systems that influence and reinforce our values and behaviors are:
- Friend or school groups.
- Co-workers and workplace environments.
- Faith communities.
- Cultures we may belong to or identify with.
- Community organizations such as Rotary, PTA, or a fraternity.
If the dominant systems that we are intertwined with are oriented more or less towards healthy ways of coping, then those systems typically support us in healthy ways when we are struggling. They may make us feel less alone or allow us to unburden ourselves without the fear of any guilt or shame at our struggles. If the systems we are engaged with, however, are not oriented toward healthy ways of coping, and instead guilt, punish or shame us for our feelings and behaviors, then those systems may make it more challenging to make the kinds of significant, life altering changes that are often necessary when considering addressing alcohol addiction and drug addiction.
For this reason—and many researchers have backed this up—it can be very beneficial for those seeking treatment for alcohol addiction and drug addiction to do so away from the systems that may be intentionally, or unintentionally, making it more challenging for people to make meaningful, long-term changes in their lives.
How we Treat Drug and Alcohol Addiction From a Systems Perspective
At Flatirons Recovery, we believe that it is a necessary part of treatment to begin to identify and build awareness of the ways in which these different systems have influenced addictive behaviors, then to develop more effective ways of taking action to better cope with those influences, including developing better personal boundaries, reassessing personal values, and advocating for one’s needs in recovery.
For many, part of the work of assessing systems and taking action in early addiction recovery means separating themselves for a period of time from the people, places, and things that may pose significant risks to their sobriety and recovery. This is very normal, though not easy, and Flatirons Recovery works to support clients in taking these difficult actions, which can include changing careers, or making the decision to take break from difficult relationships.
Another integral part of Flatirons Recovery’s treatment is staying in our sober living home for the duration of treatment, where clients have the opportunity to fully re-orient their lives toward one of sobriety, healing, and recovery in the company of others with the intention to do the same. By living with others who are also re-orienting their lives, supported by house managers, staff, and therapists who have done the same, makes the difficult process of healing from alcohol and drug addiction feel more manageable and attainable.