Vallarta seems to have become an international multi-cultural community, which has attracted a large community of Americans and Canadians as well as many Europeans and Central and South Americans, not to mention a huge influx of professionally educated Mexicans who have also chosen to move here from other parts of Mexico. Everyone moves here in search of something whether it is a new adventure, more freedom, better economic opportunities, better standard of living, or to escape emotional pain/grief/loss, or to escape legal problems, or to find peace and tranquility in order to heal physically, emotionally, and spiritually, or any number of other reasons. Is your life here what you expected or is it spiraling out of control?

Two polar opposites

Vallarta has an undeniable magnetism which has seduced all of us in one way or another to leave our other life behind and begin again here or to at least spend the winters here. There seem to be two very powerful types of energy forces at work; one which promotes healing, wellness, and a healthy lifestyle and one that is crippling and defeating, promoting unhealthy extremes, recklessness, and self-destruction.

Things don’t always go as planned

How many people do you know who have moved to this wonderful magical place with dreams of a certain lifestyle that did not unfold as they had hoped? Over the years I have seen many choose to move here after becoming completely enchanted while on vacation and decide this is this place for them. They either imagine an incredible retirement which is much more affordable than at home or one that will provide post-retirement job opportunities. Maybe they are younger and are enticed by ways to earn large amounts of money either in the infamous time-share business, or our most recent real estate boom, or a small business opportunity. No matter the reason, once they get here things do not always go as planned.

The new “norm”

Vallarta represents a new freedom with more relaxed rules and regulations, less fear of consequences, and a new definition of what is “normal”. Many behaviors have become normalized in various communities including sexual promiscuity, excessive drug and alcohol abuse, and new definitions of what qualifies as “infidelity”, to name a few. Relaxed traffic regulations, for example, make it easier for intoxicated drivers to get away with it and “designated driver” isn’t even part of the vocabulary. After a short time here, one’s perspective can easily be lost and their values and sense of self become compromised and transformed according to the new norm. Risks are taken that would have never even been considered back home.

Spiraling out of control

Before they know it, their life seems to be spiraling out of control and what may have been somewhat manageable back home has accelerated dramatically since their arrival in Vallarta. Usually to their shock and dismay things have not turned out as expected or as they had hoped and now they find themselves with more problems than the ones they left behind.

This is particularly common with drug addiction. It is truly incredible how many people arrive here with what they consider a “manageable” drug habit which (whether they are denying or minimizing a more severe drug/alcohol dependence or not) rapidly develops into an all consuming nightmare due in great part to the accessibility of the drugs and the accepting attitude of everyone around them.

Easy come, Easy go

Depending on your career choice, money can be made easily here and often times tax free. Many foreigners do not open bank accounts and tend to spend cash. It is very common to eat the majority of meals out and to pay large monthly rentals for a certain lifestyle that in the States and Canada for example, would instead be paid towards home/condo purchases with mortgages. Where there is drug addiction involved, this “easy come, easy go” attitude and lifestyle is especially predominant.

Healing and wellness

Fortunately, Vallarta has attracted a multitude of alternative and western medicine healers that are available to us whenever we are ready to reach out and receive them. The newspapers and internet are full of services providing massage therapy, acupuncture, energy work, chiropractory, and there is also a strong supportive 12-step recovery community. Many of us came here intentionally to heal ourselves while others have simply embraced the healthy lifestyle. Vallarta seems to naturally invite the healers and is conducive to the healing process.

This is especially good news for those of you who have been swept away by the enticing negative energy forces and found yourself lost and out of control. You can get back on your feet again, become centered and grounded, and heal the painful damage you and your families have suffered.

Written by: Giselle Belanger, RN, LCSW, CADC