Humans are social animals. We define ourselves by the company we keep and the environment we influence. But those definitions change when a person transitions from a life of substance use to a life of sobriety.
When you embark upon this journey, it’s important to be mindful of your direction. You may feel the need to uproot yourself altogether to get a true change of perspective in a whole new city. Some psychologists refer to this phenomenon as “pulling a geographic” – and for help navigating the journey, here’s a list of American cities where your newfound sobriety may best flourish…
#6) Houston, Texas
When you envision the typical 12-step meeting hall, what comes to mind? A sterile church rectory or after-hours gymnasium, right? Wrong. Welcome to Houston, where recovery is engrained in the culture. Magnolia City blooms with “Clubhouses” – these are permanent structures built expressly for the purpose of hosting recovery meetings. We have become so accustomed and dependent on the nightlife of bars, so these Houston Clubhouses are replacing those alcohol dispensaries with substance-free zones where people can gather in revelry and recovery.
#5) Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota
In addition to being a haven for recovering addicts of all ages, the Twin Cities boast the unique distinction of housing roughly a third of our nation’s recovery high schools. These institutions take on a pair of daunting dual roles. First: to educate students according to the standards and curriculum of their state and local directives. Second: to provide a safe space for teens in recovery, which requires a staff of educators, counselors, and psychology experts. These are no small feats, and we salute the dedicated professionals who administer the daily discipline and focus that these brave kids demand as they chart a new life free of drugs and alcohol.
#4) Boston, Massachusetts
Famous for the bar where “everybody knows your name,” Boston is also home to one of the most welcoming recovery populations in America. It is also a vanguard of influence, innovation, and communication, as evidenced by its “commitment exchange” program. This initiative tweaks the anonymous nature of most meetings by allowing speakers to migrate from group to group, sharing stories and experiences with other gatherings. By opening up to people in different neighborhoods, Bostonians work to de-stigmatize the disease of addiction and cross-pollinate their recovery strategies.
#3) Nashville, Tennessee
Recovery is a major life change. Your social structures, behavioral patterns, and general surroundings will be different from here on out – and that’s a brave, wonderful transition. One method of turning your back on your former life of substance use is to surround yourself with like-minded, sober individuals. A recent study compiled geographical data such as liver disease among its populace, binge drinking statistics, and average monthly alcohol consumption. These numbers helped to create a list of the soberest cities in the United States. The winner: Nashville, Tennessee. So, if you want a break from your old bad habits, you may want to tune into Music City, U.S.A.
#2) Delray Beach, Florida
Sun, sand, and sobriety. These are the hallmarks of a unique recovery centric town in Florida called Delray Beach. According to one recent survey, over 5,000 of the burg’s residents attend 12-step programs on a regular basis. This statistic is particularly astounding when you consider the fact that the total population of Delray Beach is just over 67,000. Delray Beach truly is a Mecca for anyone seeking a bright new outlook on life.
#1) Southern California
The very attributes that make Southern California a “party locale” also contribute to its status as the recovery capital of the United States. Individuals are encouraged to voice their struggles, to connect with others in recovery, and to live their best lives. AA meetings are a celebration, rehab centers are lavish and luxurious, and people’s outlooks are generally hopeful and sunny (much like the weather). In fact, Los Angeles hosts an estimated 3,100 meetings every week, so you’re never too far from someone who’s willing to listen, learn, and love you just for who you are.
No matter where you find yourself geographically, it is imperative that you reach out for support. This could take the form of a phone call to a loved one, a visit to your local 12-step meeting, or just a simple click to an online support center. Help is here; you just need to be ready to accept it.