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  • Writer's pictureMartin Polanco

The Role of Environment in Addiction Recovery

Originally posted May 10, 2017

Overcoming an addiction is one of the most difficult things a person will face in their lifetime. Addiction literally changes the way the brain functions and is all too often devastating for individuals and their families. Anyone who has beaten an addiction to drugs and alcohol knows that recovery is far from over when the addiction ends.

Addiction affects each person differently. And while some people can easily get over an addiction, many struggle to get their life back on track after successfully quitting their drug of choice. For some, recovery is a lifelong process. For others, it many take months or years to fully recovery from an addiction.

Environment plays a crucial role in overcoming addiction. The more comfortable and supportive a person’s environment, the better their chances of successfully sustaining their sobriety for good. A person who has just gotten over an addiction, whether through treatment or on their own, must contend with an entirely new reality. Without a proper structure and supportive environment, relapse can become a very unfortunate reality.

Changing Your Environment

Changing your environment can be an amazing help if you have recently overcome an addiction. Surrounding yourself with the people and places that remind you of your addiction can quickly lead to the triggers that ultimately lead you directly back to addiction. Changing your environment is a critical aspect of successfully staying sober and embracing this new life.

4 Tips to Change Your Environment While Recovering from Addiction

#1 – Get Rid of Old “Friends”

Chances are, the “friends” you used to hang out with when you were using weren’t really your friends at all. Addiction tends to lead people to choose friends that aren’t the healthiest or most conducive to a positive lifestyle. Successfully overcoming an addiction means getting rid of the people that you used drugs or alcohol with. We become who our closest friends are. If these are people that are using, chances are you’ll eventually be using with them…no matter how committed you are to your sobriety.

#2 – Find New Places to Hang Out

People addicted to drugs or alcohol become accustomed to a certain lifestyle. It’s extremely important after overcoming an addiction to get as far away from that lifestyle as possible. If you were an alcoholic, do NOT hang out at your favorite bar. If you used drugs and your favorite place to get high was a certain part of town, stay far away from this part of the neighborhood. There is a big world out there, no matter how small of a town you live in. Think about checking out your local library, going to museums, or sitting at the coffee shop rather than the corner bar. Change the environment you surround yourself in and you’ll find recovery to be far less difficult.

#3 – Volunteer

Helping others is an excellent way to change your environment and feel amazing about yourself. Volunteering for something you believe in can seriously change your entire outlook on your recovery. Volunteering not only makes a person feel that they are making a difference, but can initiate a reexamination of life itself. It can change the way you look at life and inspire lasting positive change. It also incites a sense of connectedness that many people overcoming addiction need.

#4 – Get Outside

Recovery can be a very dark place when a person allows themselves to fall into the depression that sometimes accompanies it. Getting outside can help immensely. Being in nature has a direct influence on the way we feel. There have been countless studies that show nature is good for our mental health. When overcoming addiction, nature has the potential to restore your well being and help immensely on the road to long-term recovery. Make it a point to get outside every day while in the recovery process and you’ll find a dramatic shift in the way you feel. Even if you live in the city, a walk in your local park can offer what you need to lift your mood and avoid temptation.

Change Your Environment

The environment you surround yourself in during the recovery process will either impede or help you through the process. Taking responsibility for your recovery by immersing yourself in an environment that encourages positive change can help immensely with the process. There are ways to make recovery easier, and changing your environment is a huge factor.

The role environment plays in recovery is crucial. While change doesn’t always come easy, nothing is as difficult as facing an addiction for the rest of your life. And, although it can seem like recovery will never end, changing your environment can make you see things differently. Staying stagnant in the environment you used in will only offer more of the same. Remember that the people and places you surround yourself with will have a direct influence on the nature of your recovery. Choose your environment wisely and you will see a massive change.

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