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The 5 Best Sober Cities in Asia

Relocating can vastly improve your chances of making a full and successful recovery from drug or alcohol dependence. If you’re looking for a fresh start, here are five of the best sober cities in Asia.

Changing location while in recovery, or “pulling a geographic” as it is often known, is a hot topic among addiction counsellors and recovering addicts. While many advise against it in the early stages of recovery, relocating has helped many stay free of drugs and alcohol.

On the plus side, moving to a new place allows you to leave behind the stigma, triggers and temptations that may have been fuelling your habit in the first place. On the other hand, you may be adding stress and loneliness to your life that may hamper your recovery.

Ultimately, the right decision will depend on your situation and whether you feel a fresh start can truly help you break free of your dependence on drugs or alcohol. If you do feel it is time to begin again, here are five Asian locations with lifestyles, facilities and recovery communities that could help you on your journey.

1. Chiang Mai, Thailand

Thailand’s northern capital frequently tops ‘best places to live abroad’ lists, and for good reason. This friendly and affordable city offers a laid back vibe, a good quality of life and excellent facilities. While Thailand does have a reputation as a party destination, Chiang Mai tends to attract a more sedate crowd and its small size makes it easy to connect with likeminded people.

Chiang Mai is also widely regarded as one of the best places in Asia for addiction treatment, with many staying on for the early weeks or months of recovery. A thriving expat scene means there is plenty to do top keep you busy, from hiking and cycling to yoga and meditation. The city also has a well established AA network with a number of meetings every day. There are also a number of Narcotics Anonymous meetings held in and around the city every week.

2. Singapore

Singapore offers a number of key benefits for those in recovery. While, like most Asian cities, alcohol is freely available, Singapore’s harsh drug laws ensure that abuse and availability of drugs is relatively rare compared to most big cities. Less than 3,500 people were arrested for drug use in Singapore in 2015. The corresponding figure for Sydney, Australia, which has a smaller population, was more than 20,000.

Singapore also has an extensive choice of English-language AA meetings – sometimes as many as six per day – including open meetings for beginners and men- and women-only groups. There is also an excellent choice of addiction treatment centres in the the city offering a range of services to addicts, whether they are taking their first steps towards a better life or ae already well on the road to recovery.

3. Pondicherry, India

Yoga and spiritual healing take centre stage in this seaside city in south-east India. Formerly a French colony, Pondicherry’s beaches, old-world charm, bustling expat community and wealth of ashrams make it a popular choice for those looking to avoid the crowds and temptations of Goa and Kerala. Add to this the affordable cost of living and Pondicherry becomes a very attractive Asian option for those in recovery.

The city’s population of 250,000 makes Pondicherry (also known as Puducherry) a manageable and pleasant place to live or stay, even for India newbies. There are a number rehab options in the area blending Western and holistic methods, as well as a choice of AA meetings held in and around the city each week.

4. Hong Kong, China

As one of Asia’s chief financial hubs, Hong Kong offers a wealth of professional opportunities for those looking to make a fresh start. With a population of over 7 million, Hong Kong may not suit those looking for a more laid back lifestyle, but you can rest assured there will be no shortage of things to see and do. The city’s large expat community ensures there are plenty of opportunities to socialize and meet new people outside the nightlife scene.

Whether you are seeking addiction treatment or a destination that will support your recovery, Hong Kong has a number of well-established treatment centres. AA Hong Kong, meanwhile, has been operating in the city for more than 45 years, helping expats and locals from all backgrounds get and stay sober; and it holds a number of meetings each day. A full list of Narcotics Anonymous meetings in Hong Kong can be found here.

5. Bali, Indonesia

If Bali was not famous as a haven of healing and recovery before ‘Eat, Pray, Love’, it certainly is now. From modern urban living to remote surfing beaches, Bali offers something for every taste. Once you escape the crowds of Kuta, Legian and Seminyak, the island’s natural beauty, friendly sober community and laid back lifestyle can make for the perfect retreat while in recovery.

Just a few hours’ flight from anywhere in Australia (it is less than 3 hours from Darwin), much of Bali’s tourism is based on healing and wellness. From basic yoga retreats to high-end addiction treatment centres, the island has options for every budget and every stage of the recovery process. There are also plenty of AA and NA meetings are held at locations throughout the island every week, including dedicated LGBT meetings.

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