From rural communities to bustling urban centers, a person’s environment can be a key factor in substance use and addiction. It has long been understood that your physical environment can impact your mental health, and the same can be said for those in recovery. Social environments can be especially triggering, as you may be more likely to relapse when surrounded by drug-using peers.
In the same way, your setting plays a crucial role throughout the recovery process. If you’re trying to live a sober life, it’s important to have a safe, healthy, and sober living environment to come home to. Here’s what you need to know about creating a healthy home environment, where you can focus on your recovery and avoid relapse.
How Environment Affects Your Recovery
If you’ve ever attended a 12-step meeting, you’ve likely heard a thing or two about people, places, and things — that is, your environment. Especially in the early stages of recovery, 12-step programs implore participants to change those environmental factors, and stay away from potential triggers, including social events. Keep in mind that bars and various social settings aren’t the only places that can trigger addictive tendencies, however. If you’re stressed out at home, school, or work and unable to find a suitable outlet, for instance, your risk of relapse is likely to increase.
Conversely, by surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals, you may find that the recovery process is a little less challenging. Fill your free time with positive, recovery-based activities, like support groups, and consider joining a gym or rec center if you still have idle moments. By swapping out unhealthy behaviors for positive habits like regular exercise, you may find that you hardly think about drugs or alcohol at all.
What’s more, regular exercise can help you manage chronic stress and anxiety, and even improve your resiliency. The recovery process isn’t exactly a walk in the park, and being resilient is crucial for addicts looking to put their using days behind them. Interestingly, your resiliency may hinge on whether or not you have a safe space to call home. For people in every stage of the recovery process, you can create a healthy home environment in a variety of places.
Housing Choices for Addiction Recovery
Sober living housing options come in many forms, from inpatient treatment facilities to halfway houses and even your childhood bedroom. When searching for temporary or permanent housing during recovery, start by making a plan that takes your personal needs into account. For instance, what does a sober living space look like to you? Do you need regular support from friends and family, or a structured environment where you’re held accountable?
Many recovering addicts have found long-term success in so-called sober living houses (SLHs), and there’s research to back it up. Put simply, SLHs are drug- and alcohol-free living facilities wherein participants are responsible for paying their own rent and maintaining sobriety. SLHs may be independently run or affiliated with notable recovery housing models, such as Oxford House. First established in 1975, the Oxford House model is utilized in more than 2000 SLHs across the U.S., Canada, and Australia.
While SLHs are an indispensable stepping stone for many, they’re far from the only option when it comes to recovery housing. If you have a supportive family, you may find success close to home. Living with family as you work through the recovery process can be a cost-effective, familiar option with plenty of structure and routine.
Creating Your Personal Recovery Sanctuary
Choosing the best housing option for your recovery needs is just the beginning, however, in terms of cultivating a healthy environment. Whether you’re living in an SLH with others or reimagining your childhood bedroom, it’s important to make your space your own. For instance, are there particular colors, scents, and/or decor styles that make you feel safe and comfortable?
You should also consider giving your possessions an overhaul at this time. Get rid of any things that remind you of your substance abuse, or that are associated with addiction in any way. You can then take the process a step further by responsibly decluttering your space, which can give you a much-needed fresh start. As you embrace your sober life, consider donating or recycling the clothing, books, and household items from your unhealthy past. It may seem simple, but helping others and the environment can give you a mental health boost and aid in your recovery.
That’s because a cluttered physical environment can actually disrupt your decision-making skills and inhibit the thinking process. And for recovering addicts, disrupted thoughts can be dangerous, leading you ever closer to relapse.
Your home should be your sanctuary, and it’s up to you to create a healthy environment that’s conducive to recovery. Determine the type of home environment that makes you feel safe and comfortable, and then make it happen.