Get Packing: How Traveling Can Boost Your Recovery
Image by Pixabay Sometimes the answer to a problem is so simple we fail to see it. Take overcoming addiction for example. You may think you need to transform yourself into a self-disciplined saint to achieve this goal. In reality, though, you can make great strides towards sobriety just by doing something you probably enjoy anyway: travel. That's right. Changing your environment can turbocharge your recovery efforts, giving you breathtaking results you might never achieve otherwise. Here's how this works. The Nightmare that Never Came True The Vietnam War was one of the darkest periods of American history. The conflict drove millions of American service personnel to use heroin to cope with the horrific conditions they faced. Up to 20% of these soldiers found themselves addicted to the substance. The government kept soldiers who tested positive for opioids out of the country until they had dried out. But experts predicted most of these subjects would fall prey to their old addiction once they returned to the US. Law enforcement agencies and public health planners braced themselves for a massive influx of combat-scarred veterans wandering American streets in search of heroin. But this nightmarish scenario never came true. In fact, 95% of military personnel who abused heroin in Vietnam never returned to the habit once they were back home. This result both relieved and baffled addiction researchers, forcing them to revise long-held assumptions about how the human mind deals with addiction. The insights they gained have much to teach us today. Running on Autopilot We like to think we're in charge of our lives; and we are, at least when it comes to major decisions like who to marry and what car to buy. But many of our actions occur with no thought whatsoever on our part. Take driving to work or another familiar location. Do you sit down and plan your route before leaving home? No. You get in the car, turn the key, and go into autopilot mode. Our minds slip into this semi-trance state more often than we might think, including when we abuse drugs or alcohol. This is why it's so easy to renew an addiction after being clean for a while. Your brain picks up cues in the environment that tell it to repeat past behaviors. Sounds insidious, right? Lucky for us, the bad news has a upside. You can outwit your autopilot by changing your surroundings. This is where travel comes into the picture. Taking a break from your old environment can, in many cases, help your recovery efforts more than a lifetime of resolutions. The effect is like growing a new brain, one that's free of the worn-out patterns that led you into addiction in the first place. Going All the Way For a change of scenery to do you the most good, you should remove yourself from the environmental factors that inspire addictive behavior. For example, let's say you're trying to quit drinking but your mind drags you into every bar you see. In such a case, going on a cruise may do you more harm than good if the ship is filled with places selling alcohol. A better choice is to look for a venue tailored to those who are working to get sober. You should also separate yourself from friends or family members who act as triggers for your bad habits. You need to give your brain a clean slate on which it can write a new lifescript. This may take a great deal of effort, expense, or even pain. But the prospect of a life free of addiction outweighs these costs. Get Packing! Changing your environment is just one weapon in your addiction recovery arsenal. Use it as long as it works. You may soon find that new surroundings are the key to a new life. So make your travel plans today and get ready for a journey towards self-discovery, and ultimately, a better you.