Do I Need to Relocate for Addiction Treatment?

Moving box preparing to relocate

Many individuals who struggle with addiction choose to relocate for addiction treatment due to their environments, workplace pressures, and community stressors [1]. Addictions affect the part of the brain that drives the formation of recollection and memories, impulse control and delayed gratification tolerances, emotional functioning, and stress tolerance [1].

When considering this, the idea of changing cities, or states may seem logical or ideal. Getting away from stressors may seem like it can help with recovery, but in the long run, recovery is about you and you alone [2].

We tend to believe that our addictions, attitudes, disappointments, successes are situation and circumstance dependent.

In reality, our recovery is in yourself. Relocation does not change the addiction or emotions we have. Even though this may seem a bit discouraging, it is not. This thought that our recovery is owned by us means that treatment can be done anywhere we choose.

How Relocation Can Help In Addiction Treatment

Relocation can serve a purpose in helping a person recover. There can be benefits to moving, and each person must consider both the positives and negatives of relocating [3].

Relocation can be practical when seeking treatment. Possibly you are entering a community after rehabilitation and needing a job or housing while receiving treatment. You might be leaving a home environment that enables your addiction, and it is essential for relocation to be successful in sobriety.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Publications Organization, those in recovery who return to environments after rehabilitation that are enabling to the addiction are at an increased risk of relapse compared to those who do not [3].

How Relocation Can Hurt Treatment

Relocation can increase negative feelings if a person is separated from family, friends, and a positive support group. Leaving behind a healthy group of supporters can sometimes hinder treatment progress [3].

Man considering a move for addiction treatmentIf a person does not handle change well, then relocation may not be for them. In the beginning, treatment is all-consuming, and relocating may not be the best choice if treatment in itself seems overwhelming.

It is essential to be able to feel stability in your home, with your family, and career if these components are positive and reinforcing your choice for recovery.

Being able to cope with everyday life in your current life can be beneficial in treatment. There is a line between the necessity of relocation and the desire to escape reality.

It is important to remember if you relocate or not that you be objective as you can about the decision. Discuss the options with your therapist, and those you trust. There are times when relocation is a great motivator for recovery, but it can sometimes be a setback.

Ensuring that you carefully consider the resources where you currently are and those of where you are looking to relocate can help you make the best decision for your treatment.

Important Questions to Consider

It’s important to ask yourself if relocating by itself will be enough to help you in treatment or prevent a relapse [4]. Will it help you learn how to live sober? Will relocating make you quit using? If the answer is no, then know that substance or drug use will be a temptation anywhere, not just where you chose to do treatment.

Do you have a plan in place for treatment? If you do not, then relocation may not be your first decision. On the other hand, those who struggle with addiction often find that their friends or family members also use, and it can be helpful to step away from this for a time period. It can help with making healthier choices and finding the tools that best work for you.

Seeking Addiction Treatment is a Personal Choice

Being able to seek treatment out of your area, is a personal choice [5]. Some individuals choose to seek treatment out-of-state for privacy, ensuring they will not run into others they know.

Research has shown that those who move through treatment are more successful if they do not feel burdened or distracted by outside influences [5]. If seeking treatment locally, unless you are court-mandated to attend, an adult can voluntarily stay or go.

It can be much more tempting to leave treatment when it becomes difficult to stay sober if you stay within your local area. If loved ones are close, it can be a trait of addicts to want to focus on their loved ones versus treatment. If attending out-of-state treatment, the person’s only focus is on treatment and getting better.

In state or out of state treatment can also depend on insurance. Some insurers opt to pay for limited days or services. Considering the differences between insurance covered treatment and out of pocket expenses can play a major part in relocation options for addiction treatment.

Even with various aspects to consider when deciding if relocation is right for you, it is best to sit down and discuss your personal preferences with someone you trust and is in support of your recovery.

Some individuals do better when close to home, while others do better when relocating for treatment. Weighing the options available and deciding upon privacy, comfort, cost and other factors can help you gather the necessary information to make the best decision for your sobriety.

Woman laying in the leavesDeciding to seek treatment is ultimately up to each person who struggles with addiction. There are positives and negatives to relocating or staying close to home. Stressors, temptations, triggers, and apprehension can be a part of either situation.

Getting sober may begin with the decision to start over, or have time away from your current environment. Like all decisions in recovery, take your time in figuring out what is best for you. Remember that your recovery is possible with treatment, no matter where that occurs.

Image of Libby Lyons and familyAbout the Author: Libby Lyons is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Certified Eating Disorder Specialist (CEDS). Libby has been practicing in the field of eating disorders, addictions, depression, anxiety and other comorbid issues in various agencies. Libby has previously worked as a contractor for the United States Air Force Domestic Violence Program, Saint Louis University Student Health and Counseling, Saint Louis Behavioral Medicine Institute Eating Disorders Program, and has been in Private Practice.

Libby currently works as a counselor at Fontbonne University and is a Adjunct Professor at Saint Louis University, and is a contributing author for Addiction Hope and Eating Disorder Hope. Libby lives in the St. Louis area with her husband and two daughters. She enjoys spending time with her family, running, and watching movies.


[1] (n.d.) Retrieved May 1, 2017, from
[2] (n.d.) Retrieved May 1, 2017, from
[3] (n.d.) Retrieved May 1, 2017, from
[4] (n.d.) Retrieved May 1, 2017, from
[5] (n.d.) Retrieved May 1, 2017, from

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published June 8, 2017
Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on June 8, 2017.
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About Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC

Jacquelyn Ekern founded Addiction Hope in January, 2013, after experiencing years of inquiries for addiction help by visitors to our well regarded sister site, Eating Disorder Hope. Many of the eating disorder sufferers that contact Eating Disorder Hope also had a co-occurring issue of addiction to alcohol, drugs, and process addictions.