When you’re in recovery from drug addiction or alcoholism, it can feel like you never get to take a break. Maybe you go to meetings every day or a few times a week, or meet with an addiction counselor to help handle cravings and learn new coping skills. Eventually, though, you’ll want to take a vacation with friends or family – but you may not be confident that you can do this and maintain your sobriety. Will changing your routine cause you to slip up?
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to approach traveling without worrying about compromising your recovery. In fact, travel has been shown to improve your mood and reduce stress levels. This can help take your mind off recovery-related worries and allow you to just enjoy yourself, as can planning ahead to make sure you don’t put yourself in overwhelming situations where you may be tempted.
Travel With Support
Choose your travel companions carefully so that you’re with people who will support you and not encourage you to “have just one” since you’re on vacation. That means that if addiction or alcoholism runs in your family – not at all uncommon – these may not be great people to travel with. Instead, it may be better to travel with your sponsor or with other friends who will commit to a sober trip.
Choose Destinations Wisely
When deciding where to go, make sure that you aren’t choosing a destination that will make it easy to engage in addictive behaviors – a vineyard tour is a terrible place for an alcoholic, for example. Similarly, traveling abroad to places where drinking or casually drug use is common is unadvisable. Instead, consider trips where you’ll spend a lot of time outdoors, or work with an organization like the Clean Fun Network that organizes sober travel.
Create Portable Resources
Don’t travel without a few recovery tools on hand. Even if you choose not to attend meetings while on vacation, bring a journal to write in and spend some time each day performing mindfulness activities or reading inspirational material that guides your recovery. You might even make a list of distress cues for yourself and your travel partners. If the HALT acronym – hungry, anxious, lonely, and tired – has helped you identify triggers in the past, carry this reminder with you and tell the people you’re with about it.
Be Mindful Of Small Temptations
One simple thing that can trip up someone in recovery is the mini bar. You’re on the road and you arrive at your hotel, only to find tiny, tempting bottles waiting in your room. If you remember, call the hotel in advance and ask them to remove the bottles before you arrive. Similarly, many high-end resorts will offer you a cocktail when you arrive – when you’re planning your trip, ask if this is common practice and ask them to note on your reservation that you would prefer not to be offered one.
Traveling while in recovery can be challenging, but by making proper preparations and giving yourself time to mentally prepare and process the upcoming trip you can have a successful vacation. Remember that everyone deserves a chance to relax and you shouldn’t let your past get in the way of a bright and exciting future.