Home After Rehab: The Guide to Finding the Right Place for Recovery

Key in door

If you’ve decided to relocate after entering addiction recovery, it’s important to find the right home that will promote your continued sobriety and overall wellness. You’ll want to find a place that helps you create a healthy, consistent routine without throwing you into the paths of old triggers. You’ll also want a loving environment to rebuild your relationships and bond with your family, a place where you can heal and focus on your recovery.

Let this be your guide to finding the best new home to keep your addiction recovery on track. It will discuss considerations to make about your new neighborhood, the home itself and offer advice on ways to make your new environment promote a healthy life. As you explore your options, be sure to keep your partner informed about your thoughts and make each decision a joint consensus.

The Right Neighborhood

We recognize that depending on where you live or are relocating to, meeting every one of these standards can be a challenge. Take each factor into consideration and decide with your partner which ones are most important to your family. Share these priorities and any other concerns with your real estate agent, as well as which compromises you’re willing to make.

One of the most important qualities of your new neighborhood should be that it’s nowhere near the places you regularly used drugs and alcohol before your recovery. Whether it’s the bar you frequented after work or the park where you met your dealer, give yourself as much distance from them as possible. You may not always be able to avoid them, but the less frequently you have to pass them, the better. It’s much easier to focus on your sobriety without having to run into reminders of your past.

This might mean keeping distance from friends or family you once used substances with — if they are still using, it could put your recovery at risk. Talk to your sponsor about how to best handle these kinds of situations, and take their words to heart. It might be best to keep your distance for now, but leave the door open for communication later when you’re in a stronger place in your sobriety.

You should also try to make your new surroundings as convenient as possible. Be sure there’s a grocery store nearby, and a dry cleaner or laundromat if you’ll need them. If you’ll be traveling by car on a regular basis, it never hurts to be within a mile or two of a gas station if you can help it. For mass transit travelers, check out the local bus, train and subway maps for the different areas you’re considering. Make it as easy as possible on yourself to get what you need in your immediate surroundings, and simple enough to travel that it won’t constantly be a daunting task. You want your daily routine to be as stress-free as possible, so look for opportunities as you search for housing.

For many people, living near their job is the ultimate convenience. Do keep in mind that it’s important to give yourself some level of distance between work and home since some people discover that living too close to work makes them feel like they never really leave. This can be especially stressful when you’re focusing on your sobriety, so consider your situation carefully. Some people have no trouble separating the two and find the convenience of living close to the office and walking to work a major stress-reducer; others might prefer a slightly longer commute to keep things more compartmentalized. At the very least, make sure it’s easy for you to make it to work on time on foot or bike, via public transportation or by car if you have one.

Depending on your location, there are all kinds of positive attributes to look for in your new part of town. If you hope to spend more time outdoors, you might want to house-hunt near local hiking trails. Many fitness and recreation centers are near neighborhoods, so if you’re planning on joining a gym or rec sport league, it might be helpful to look in those areas. For those looking to nurture their faith and their sobriety, consider which areas have religious centers; many churches hold local sobriety group meetings, so even if you aren’t religious you may benefit from living near one. Local schools should be a consideration for parents or anyone hoping to start a family in the future. You might also appreciate having nearby sober activities: outdoor cafes, frozen yogurt, go karts and mini golf are just a few options.

The Right Home

One of the first questions you’ll need to answer is how big of a home you’re looking for. It’s crucial to strike the balance between having enough room for the entire family and having too much room. While bigger might initially seem better, a larger home means more to maintain — not to mention a bigger financial burden. Don’t limit yourself to the bare minimum, but don’t go overboard either: you don’t want to end up feeling isolated in a tiny apartment, nor do you want to feel overwhelmed from the upkeep of a large house. In the interest of your recovery, your home should make you feel relaxed and completely at-ease.

There isn’t a perfect recipe for finding the right home, but there are certainly a few special considerations to make for the best recovery environment. Look past how the place looks now and focus on imagining the future: can you picture yourself settling into that bedroom each evening, and peacefully waking up there in the mornings? Perhaps you imagine yourself enjoying the view of a nearby lake from the kitchen window as you drink coffee and prepare for the day ahead. Does the yard seem big enough for your kids to play in? Can you picture having your friends over for dinner? Think about what truly makes a house a home, then see how your potential options fit in.

Make sure to tell your partner not only about what’s most important to you in a home, but why. He or she may have never realized that you really need a dedicated office or appreciate having a bigger kitchen to cook in, so take the opportunity to continue being honest about what you need and want.

Your home should be a pleasant place to both start and end your day, and one you look forward to returning to as you’re clocking out of work. Consider finding a home that allows you to have your own space — be it an entire room or just a specific area — to dedicate to time and activities supporting your recovery. You can use it to express yourself through journaling or another art form, or as a quiet space to meditate when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Your family will only be able to understand a limited amount of what you’re dealing with, so having your own private space as an outlet in the home is crucial.

Don’t be afraid to get a home that’s very different from your last. Having completely new surroundings can be a positive way to start a new chapter and an opportunity to remedy any problems from your past house. For instance, if you hated battling your neighbors for parking in the past, make sure to look at houses with a garage or dedicated street parking. If your last living room was cramped, look for a home with an open common area. Your new home is an excellent opportunity to make even more positive changes.

The Right Organization

Before moving into your new home, you must get rid of any items that might act as triggers. You’ll need to throw out any drugs or alcohol, as well as any items tied to their use. You don’t necessarily have to throw out the wine glasses you got for Christmas, but you should keep them boxed up and very out of reach. For now, it’s best that your home has zero reminders of any off-limits substances. If your partner has any medications (both prescription and over-the-counter) he or she will need, they should be stored in some kind of locked cabinet or safe that only he or she has access to. Keep the storage space itself as out of sight as possible, too.

Eliminating triggers might mean having some honest conversations with your partner about your past substance use. If you used to come home from work and sit in a specific chair while you used, for instance, you might decide it’s best to donate the chair and find something else for your new place. Of course, there will be many items that might be able to somehow relate to your past, but focus on the items that seem defined by that fact; if you can’t look at the chair and see anything but your old habit, it’s worth it to eliminate it from your life.

In theme with a fresh start, try new things with your furniture placement, too. Create open spaces that are pleasant to spend time in, and make the most of any natural sunlight you have. Eliminate clutter as much as possible — even if you think you’re use to it, your mind often can’t relax when things are messy. Even your décor is an opportunity to think simple and calming; trade out the things that can make your mind swim for those that put it at ease. A painting of a busy city street could be switched out with a calm landscape scene instead, or perhaps a potted plant could replace the art altogether.

If you have children, consider adding devoted toy bins to each room as a way to eliminate clutter quickly and easily. Talk to them about the importance of keeping the new home tidy, and don’t be afraid to be honest. Let them know that you’re going through a stressful time and need their help to keep things under control, and note that you’ll do your part to keep things nice, too.

To maintain your beautiful new home, there are all kinds of habits to get into and techniques to try, so find what works best for your family and schedule. Most importantly, make it a part of your regular routine: put dishes away as soon as they’re dry, clear your lower level’s floor of clutter before heading upstairs for the night, and tidy up the kitchen after you’ve had a snack. Consider responsible living an important part of your recovery: at the very least, it’s a way of showing your family you’re committed to your new way of life each and every day.

The right home for your recovery might look different than someone else’s or from how you ever imagined it would be. Keep your mind open and the communication flowing among you, your partner, and your real estate agent. Try not to agonize over the details, and focus more on the exciting, fresh start you’re about to embark on with your loved ones.

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