While for many a vacation means staying on a tropical island and drinking cocktails, for others it means stressful situations that can lead to a relapse. Here are a few tips to get the most out of your vacation all while staying sober:
- Consider the Timing
You don’t leave all your worries behind when you cross a border. In general, it’s a good idea to start planning a getaway once you’ve already been successfully managing your recovery for an extended period of time and feel that you are physically and mentally able to handle any potential vacation stressors.
Your vacation should be filled with happiness and excitement, not anxiety and fear of relapse. In early recovery you need to focus on sobriety, and if you use a vacation to escape the obstacles of early recovery, it can slow your progress and prevent you from enjoying your trip.
- Find Ways to Cope
Taking a vacation doesn’t mean your recovery also takes one. Keep monitoring your nutrition, sleep, and energy levels no matter where you are, and put some time in your itinerary for meditation. Having a daily routine might feel like it’s taking the fun out of the vacation, but it can provide the balance you need when social and environmental settings change.
Before leaving, be sure you have a sober friend’s phone number on speed dial and research AA or NA meetings close to where you’re going. It may feel intimidating to attend meetings with people you don’t know, but they can offer support when you need it the most.
- Make a List of Travel To-Dos
Boredom can lead to temptation, so fight it by making a list of things you want to do on your vacation. Engage in activities that promote your sobriety, like art classes or guided tours. Sober activities can help you prove to yourself that you don’t need drugs or alcohol to enjoy your vacation. Try to have fun and treat yourself to pleasant experiences, so you don’t feel like you’re missing out by not drinking.
- Plan for Triggers
Addiction triggers can pop out of nowhere and they can lead to relapse. Things like delayed flights or last-minute change of plans can bring extra stress to your sobriety and leave you feeling challenged in risky environments, like an airport bar.
You should acknowledge that mishaps will happen during your vacation and try to explore ways to overcome them, like talking to someone about how you feel, or practicing breathing techniques during times of stress.
Planning a trip may be stressful but seeing new things and exploring new places on vacation can have a positive impact on your recovery and can provide you with new perspectives on life that can take your recovery to new levels.