Although I rarely write about my struggles with addiction and my recovery on this blog, with Spring and Summer right around the corner, I figured there’s no better time than now to discuss staying sober on vacation. In addition, with such a large opioid epidemic going on, the amount of people in recovery is growing everyday. If something in my journey can help someone else, then I want to share.
For most people vacation-time brings to mind lounging on a beach with an ice-cold cocktail in hand. For others, like myself, it opens up the possibility of relapse. This doesn’t mean you should let your recovery prevent you from traveling though; it just means that you should plan a bit more carefully than others would. Here are 4 helpful tips for staying sober on vacation.
Take Length of Sobriety into Consideration
Before you plan on hitting the road, take into consideration how long you have been sober. As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to have a extended period of recovery time under your belt before you plan to travel. If you have successfully managed your recovery for quite awhile, and you feel you are physically and mentally able to handle any potential triggers or stressors, then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t treat yourself to a much deserved vacation.
On the other hand, if you are in early recovery, your focus should be on sobriety. Traveling should not be at the top of your list of things to do. After all, vacation-time should be filled with happiness, excitement and relaxation, not fear, worry and anxiety.
Don’t Put Your Recovery on the Back Burner
Just because you are on vacation doesn’t mean your recovery gets a vacation, too. You know what you need to do to maintain your sobriety. Whether it’s talking with your sponsor or other people in your support network, journaling, meditating or working out, continue to do what has been working for you.
Depending on where you are traveling, you may also want to consider attending a meeting. Before you leave, do some research on AA, NA or CA meetings close to where you will be staying.
Remember Your Triggers and Plan for New Ones
As a recovering addict, I am very familiar with my triggers and what I do to cope with them. Planning and organizing a trip, and travel itself can come with a whole new set of triggers. Things such as delayed flights, wrong turns, or a change of plans can easily bring extra stress to your recovery.
Acknowledge that vacation mishaps will happen and think of ways you can deal with and overcome them – before you leave home.
Create A Travel Bucket List
While you are in the planning stages of your vacation, think about what you want to see and do on your trip. Make a checklist or bucket list. This will help you fight the boredom that could possibly lead to temptation.
In addition, plan to engage in activities that will help support and promote your sobriety. I remember when I first got sober wondering how I was supposed work or have fun without my DOC! I’d gotten so used to being high while I worked and played, that the thought of doing it sober was downright depressing and scary! Planning for guided tours, yoga on the beach, or other fun and engaging activities will help reinforce the fact that you don’t need alcohol or drugs to have a good time on vacation.
Staying sober on vacation doesn’t have to be stressful or boring. instead, it can take your recovery to a whole new level. Seeing and exploring new things on vacation is a great opportunity to rediscover old passions, find new ones, and bring new meaning to your life – both in and out of recovery.