Moving In Recovery: It’s Possible, Not Easy!

by Guest Blogger, Rose Lockinger

Moving is a huge change. This is especially true if you are moving a significant distance, such as out of state. Which is exactly what I did.  Six months prior I had decided that it was time to move home to Virginia.  I had to leave! The safe little cocoon I had made in South Florida was over and it was time for a metamorphosis.  A change.  A word that I have never been fond of but am learning to appreciate and accept in recovery. I was scared, actually petrified is a better word.

People underestimate how traumatic a move can be, even one that you are happy about! Under normal circumstances, it’s a huge adjustment, but for those of us in recovery, it can be even more challenging.  Especially if you're like me, I needed a schedule it gave a me sense of order and security.  Prior to getting sober my life had been chaos and a schedule gave me a routine something I had never known before.

One thing, I heard over and over in early recovery,  is how important a support group is. I know, I know, it’s important, and a huge part of recovery. But it’s so hard and makes me feel really, really uncomfortable.

Building a support group requires time and effort. Lots of, feeling like an awkward human, not something I enjoy or probably anyone for that matter.  I mean they do say that life happens out of your comfort zone.  Moving for me meant starting again though to be honest. I must disclose that I knew people in the rooms in Virginia.

I spent 4 months attending meetings everyday and trying to work with a sponsor. Except there’s a catch (you can’t do much step work when you can’t stay sober). I finally gave in and asked for help going away to a drug detox and treatment.I knew people at home, but that didn’t take away the fear of judgement. This, thank god, was not the case.

Although, I left my sober support behind in Florida, I found that within the first two weeks; I had a new sponsor, a home group and reconnected with old friends. You know what's even more amazing that almost 30 days into my relocation I have a support system that rivals the one I had in Florida.  The best thing is that it's not as bad as I thought it would be. Wow! Imagine that I catastrophize--but I’m not an alcoholic, right? 

 Normal people struggle with big life changes, do you really think that we ie (alcoholics) can handle them without having to work really hard.  Just saying. It’s good to keep in mind big changes are frequent catalysts to struggles, and possibly relapsing. It doesn’t have to be that way.  Being prepared, having a plan and staying proactive are all effective coping tools to deal with change.

Preparation can smooth the way as you transition into your new environment. This gives you time and space for you to develop a new support group, and staying in contact with your old one and being proactive in your recovery.

I am not saying it was easy.  This month has included a lot of tears, quite a few pity parties and lots of phone calls.  I spent a lot of time reaching out and talking about my F@#$ing feelings.  I’m not a huge fan of feelings.  But it's hard to argue with results.  When I talk about and process my feelings.  A miracle happens I can move on with my day and don’t stay stuck in my head.

Moving is a busy time, and stressful time.  A lot needs to be done to get ready.   A lot of work is required for the actual move.  Honestly I f#$@ing hate moving.  I’ve moved a lot, you would think I would be used to it by now.  No that’s definitely not the case unfortunately it hasn’t gotten any better, maybe a little worse. I had a nice routine going and now it's changing and I’m not exactly thrilled.

I planned my move six months in advance, I went to meetings at home in Virginia, I got phone numbers and I even got a temporary sponsor before I left Florida.  I also finished my steps.  I found a therapist. I also agreed to go to 5 or more meetings a week no matter what.

 All of these are proactive and helped make this move successful.  Like I said before, it's still been difficult and challenging. At times I questioned why I had even thought I could do this. In the end like everything else when you face your fears you gain confidence and break the bars that held you back.

I moved home and my parents graciously offered a place to stay until I got my own apartment. I know! I wasn't thrilled about it. But it actually hasn’t been that bad.  Amazing how being sober changes a relationship.  I actually contribute to their lives instead of taking away. Like I used too.

I was lucky my job is letting me work from home so I didn't have to get a new one. I had to take a chance and start to make new friends. I started calling people and setting up lunches, coffee dates or just chatting.  It’s uncomfortable but it's getting better.  I have my kids on the weekends so I’m thrilled about this part. This is why I moved home. It was time for me to come home a be a mom.  This was an answer to many a prayer.  I am also studying for my licensing exam for massage therapy. So overall I feel exhausted, overwhelmed and really, really busy. But really happy.

So what are specific things you can take if you are moving as well?

I rememberedwhat I did when I was brand-new in recovery? What did I do? 

When I left inpatient treatment, I took a deep breath and I dove in.

I went to meetings every day, I got a service commitment. I went to an IOP program (This is one that did not apply). I started to meet people and all of those choices helped build a foundation for my sobriety.  They allowed me to grow and build my life again in a new place.  Well not really new actually my old stomping grounds. 

No matter where you are in recovery now, you know what it was like in the beginning.

Here are some simple steps I took:

  •  I called people a lot of people. I called new people, and I called my old support group.
  •   I accept invitations to coffee, dinner and activities. But I also invited people that I connected to go to coffee or lunch.  You may feel awkward push past that!
  •  I got a service commitment right away.
  •  I found a new sponsor before I moved.  Go to some meetings in the new place if you can.
  •  When I feel isolated, overwhelmed or even think of using.  I tell people. I tell on myself.  Talking about it gets it out of my head.

This program has given me a support system in 30 days.  People I can call anytime and they will help!  Wow that’s pretty impressive.  Don’t know of many other people that can say that happened!

Don’t Put Off What Needs To Be Done

Moving to a new place and making friends is scary. It’s easy to find a thousand excuses to keep me at home. I was tired, I needed to unpack, I just wanted a quiet night at home.  What I really needed to remember is whatever I put front of my recovery I would lose. So I kept the momentum going.  A month in, andI have to say, I’m shocked and grateful at how welcome and connectedI feel.  I know that as time passes things will change again and that’s ok!  I am starting to learn that change is good not bad.  I don’t have to be afraid, in my life today.  Change holds nothing but promises and possibilities. All the changes in the last year have always led to something better, even when I couldn't see it.

Rose Lockinger is passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing. 

You can find me on LinkedIn, Facebook, & Instagram


Shannon Egan

Shannon Egan is an author, international journalist, and advocate for addiction recovery. Despite training as a writer on humanitarian issues for the United Nations, Shannon prefers sharing her personal stories of addiction and recovery to infuse hope in those still struggling and spread the message that recovery is possible.