Have you ever felt stuck in any way? If so, does it at least partially stem from where you live? So many people who stay in their hometowns throughout their lives do feel that it negatively affects them. This can be especially true if you’re struggling with a substance use disorder. What never leaving your hometown does to your brain and life can be striking and negative.
Does that mean that leaving your hometown is going to automatically cure your substance use disorder or fix problems in your life? Of course not, but a change of scenery can have pretty significant benefits, even for a short time.
What Never Leaving Your Hometown Does to Your Brain In General
Before we go specifically into how staying in your hometown can affect you when dealing with addiction, what about in general.
Things never leaving your hometown does to your brain and life include:
- You may be less independent. When you’re geographically close to your family, you may be less likely to do things like buying a home or starting a career. You have a safety net close by, and while that can be a good thing, it can also hold you back. When you handle something stressful like moving away and being on your own, it can help you learn how to manage other difficult situations in your life and build confidence.
- It’s easy to feel like you’re stuck being the person you were known as in your hometown, even if that’s not who you indeed are. If you live in the same town where you grew up, it’s very easy to feel like you’re stuck in a particular identity. That can limit your future growth. Leaving your town gives you the chance to recreate your identity based on who you want to be, rather than who other people think you are. If you’re overwhelmed by your past mistakes, moving can help you get “unstuck.”
- When you never leave your town, you may not expand your social circle. Having lifelong relationships can be valuable, but not always, especially if you don’t feel like the people you know are a good influence on you.
- It’s tough to learn new skills when you’re in a stagnant environment, and not ever learning new things will have an impact on your brain. When you move away, you may learn new skills because you’re forced to or because you choose to.
- Not leaving where you grew up is going to limit your perspective of the world and other people. If you come from a small town primarily, you might not interact with people from different backgrounds or people with unique opinions.
- Your career options could be somewhat limited if you stay in your hometown, and that can limit overall opportunities in your life.
- When you force yourself outside of your comfort zone, you can then be more welcoming of change in general.
- If you never leave your comfort zone, then fear can become part of who you are. Your goal should always be to view fear as an emotion but not part of your identity.
- When you’re not with them every day, it can be easier to strengthen your relationship with your loved ones. You’re likely to be more present when you’re talking with them or visiting them because it’s something you don’t get to do all the time.
What Never Leaving Your Hometown Does to Your Brain When You Have an Addiction
Above, we’re just talking generally about what never leaving your hometown does to your brain and your life, but what about when you have a substance use disorder? These effects can be even more significant.
When you have an addiction, triggers are people, places, and things. When you stay in your hometown, you’re probably spending time with people who are also trapped in the same cycles. It becomes more challenging to break out of the cycle of addiction or find the motivation to go to treatment because you’re always in your old patterns. That’s why a lot of people opt to travel for rehab.
When you travel for rehab, you take yourself outside of those triggers and old ways of doing things. You’re no longer trapped in a cycle of your environment. That change in scenery and perspective can go a long way in helping your treatment and addiction recovery. Specific benefits of leaving your hometown for treatment include:
- It can deepen your commitment to your addiction recovery. You are packing up and leaving home, and that’s symbolic in a lot of ways. You’re not going to be in your comfort zone, which shows other people but also yourself that you are serious about treatment and recovery. Taking a big first step helps strengthen your resolve.
- When you’re outside of your environment, you can focus only on yourself. It’s not selfish when you’re in those challenging early days of treatment and recovery. You don’t have to think about anything but your recovery, which is valuable.
- Traveling away from your home for treatment or during addiction recovery allows you to reflect and take on a new perspective that you might not otherwise have.
- If you leave your town for treatment, it’s not as easy for you to leave treatment early. You’re putting physical distance between treatment and your home, and that can help you stay dedicated when you want to go.
- You have more privacy in an out-of-town treatment center. If you’re going to treatment in your small town, you may feel like everyone will know, and you might feel ashamed or embarrassed. That’s the last thing you should think about when you’re in treatment.
Overall, when you leave for rehab or to start over in your sobriety, you’re getting the benefit of leaving the place that you associate with your addiction. This includes your self-identity during that time, the people you spent time with, and the situations and locations where you might have used drugs or alcohol.
If you’re planning to relocate following treatment and early in your addiction recovery, you do want to be aware that it can be stressful. Before you move, line up resources that will help you manage your stress in healthy ways. For example, find a 12-step program or support group in the new city or town where you’ll be living. If you go to treatment somewhere else and then plan to return home, your treatment center should provide you with an aftercare plan and connect you with resources in your hometown.
We don’t always associate our location with addiction, but there are strong ties in many cases. What never leaving your hometown does to your brain can affect your efforts to get sober, which is why going to rehab in another city or even state might be beneficial.
We encourage you to call 866-600-7709 and contact Anchored Tides Recovery’s team of addiction treatment specialists if you’d like to learn more about the treatment options available to you. Our team can go over different program options and help you take the steps to begin a new life in recovery for yourself or your loved one.