Doing a Geographic (without moving to another city)

According to research, the single best action you can take to increase your odds of still being clean a year from now is to move away. In recovery lingo, it’s called “doing a geographic.” You really can’t overstate the value of literally, physically removing yourself from your old using environment.

But since most of us don’t have the means to up and relocate our lives to another city or country, we have to do our best to get clean while staying local. How does one do this?

Here’s a few ideas:

You could move into a different neighborhood, one where you’ve never used. No associations with meth. Zip, nada — a clean slate. If you can’t change cities, a different neighborhood is the next best thing.

Don’t laugh. But if you can’t literally move, the least you can do is redecorate. (Yep. Really.) There is no reason not redecorate. It’s all positive.

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Start by redecorating the room where you most used. For gay tweakers like myself, it’s always the bedroom. But it’s different rooms for different users. Sometimes it is several rooms. What’s important is that you change the environment as much as you can. Paint the walls. Rearrange or replace the furniture. Make the room unrecognizable. It’s the new meth-free you, decoratively.

If you had a lot of chemsex on your bed, get rid of it all — the sheets , pillows, and mostly that filthy mattress. Even if you didn’t stain or damage your mattress, you probably created a lot of bad juju there. Things might even have gotten a little dark. A new bed brings a fresh meth-free energy to the room. Just leave all of that darkness behind with the old mattress and bedding.

What else could one do that might be considered a kind of “soft” geographic?

Try avoiding those specific places you formerly associated with using. For example, getting cash at specific ATM is a trigger for most of us. Changing ATMs will help — a lot. Change where you get your gas if you have a car. If you would exit a certain ramp on the freeway or take a certain route when going to the dealer’s, you never take that old route again. It doesn’t matter if it’s a little inconvenient or out of the way to go around. Don’t go down that old road, literally and figuratively.

We are trying to create a new post-meth life. Change is good. Change is our friend when we first start to get clean. At its essence, doing a geographic is about change.

When you enter recovery, you’ll often hear the advice: “You only have to change one thing — everything.” A geographic is significant change. But if you can’t move to another abode (most of us can’t), I suggest you redecorate.

Q: What can you do to really help yourself stay clean? A: Redecorate.

Yes, it still makes me chuckle when I say it aloud, but it is true nonetheless. You can quit crystal meth. Don’t believe anyone who says you can’t.