Staying sober on vacation
GenPsych April 2018
After a long, cold winter on the East Coast, we are all looking forward to summer, being outdoors and some well earned time off. Vacations are meant to be relaxing, but we all know they can also be stressful and demanding. If you are in recovery from a drug or alcohol addiction, going on vacation could trigger some old habits. It is important to stay clean and sober on vacation.
Here are some ways to stay on track with your recovery.
Keep yourself busy
Vacations are fun. A big part of this fun is that you can take a break from your responsibilities and worries. Having an abundance of free time could be a problem for a recovering addict. If you don’t keep busy, your mind can start to wander and look for ways to fill your day. We go on vacation to get away from our everyday lives, but past issues of substance abuse have a way of tagging along wherever you go. This is why it is a good idea to have activities planned for these moments when you are feeling restless. Of course, we need downtime, that is the whole idea of a vacation. Don’t make plans for every minute of your day; this could stress you out even before your vacation begins. But try and plan the right amount of activities, so you don’t find yourself with too much free time.
Make plans that add structure to your days
A significant source of stress on vacations is the lack of planning. While planning each day down to the minute is a source of stress itself, it helps to have a general plan for each day of your trip. Choose sites and venues you wish to see and visit. Collect information on the costs and hours of operation. Having this information prepared will help things go smoothly day to day and keep everyone busy.
Stay in contact with your support network
Every recovering addict working towards recovery knows they need to always have access to their support system. This is especially true on vacation. Tell your friends, family, and sponsors that you are taking some time off and where you are going. Stay in contact at least once a week with your support group. If you are currently enrolled in an addiction treatment program, you may want to consider taking a vacation in a place where you have the ability to access support meetings. In most major destinations, you can find a group that would be happy to help support you.
Make sure you have plenty of sober vacation options
Studies have shown people who vacation on cruise ships consume, on average, nearly eight times the amount of alcohol they usually would at home. The average for this type of trip is over 30 alcoholic drinks per week. The combination of unstructured free-time, the drinking culture, and the celebratory atmosphere is a dangerous situation for anyone in recovery. Be aware of these potential triggers and book a vacation that provides you with plenty of healthy, sober options. Outdoor activities, site seeing, and beach vacations are great ideas for anyone in recovery.
Bring along your Recovery Routine
People in recovery are provided with a daily routine to help them stay on course and make the changes needed to start leading an addiction-free life. These routines may include meditation, prayer, exercise, etc. While in recovery, it is vital to stick with your routine while on vacation to avoid a relapse. To ensure you stay on routine, create a schedule for each day of your vacation. This schedule does not have to plan each day to the minute but it helps to have plans and ideas to stay busy.
Avoid Unhealthy Activities
Vacations usually include activities which involve drinking. If friends or family member plan on drinking alcohol during vacation, avoid joining them. Family and friends will understand why you don’t want to participate. If possible, vacation with people willing to plan activities and events that don’t involve drinking alcohol.
If you can follow the tips above, you will likely stay clean and sober on vacation. Vacations are meant to be fun and refreshing. Plan your days out so you can experience a stress-free trip. Discuss and review your plans with your support group and therapist and consider the types of triggers which may cause you to relapse while on vacation. With a little preparation and planning, you can look forward to enjoying a sober trip and arriving back home safely with your recovery intact and the empowering feeling of being in control of your life.
GenPsych has five treatment centers located throughout New Jersey. We offer an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) to help our clients recover from Anxiety, Depression, Eating Disorders, Alcohol and Drug Addiction. If you or a loved one need help, don’t wait, start today.