Summer vacations – they used to mean airport drinking, tropical getaways and sipping cocktails on the beach or by the pool. Nowadays, they can be anxiety ridden affairs that are full of opportunities to relapse. Going on your first vacation in recovery is a big milestone and a treat you definitely deserve but it is not without its pitfalls. Read our guide to help you plan your summer vacation in recovery.
When is the right time to go?
If you are using a trip away as a means to escape difficulties you are facing in your life and your recovery then it is unrealistic that things will be any different just because you are in a different location. Writer and spiritual thinker, Eckhart Tolle stated, “Life is now.” This means that the best time to be planning a vacation is when you feel stable in your recovery and generally happy with your life. Being in a good frame of mind before you go away is also important because vacations can be stressful. Even when they are meant to be relaxing, there are many opportunities and triggers for relapse. In order to ensure that your trip is as fun-filled and happy as you deserve it to be, it is perhaps best to wait until you have an extended period of good sobriety under your belt.
Maintain some sort of routine:
Just because you are on vacation, that doesn’t mean that your recovery is. All of the building blocks you had in place to help you at home need to come with you on your trip. Try to eat as healthfully as you can and maintain your sleep routine. Set some time aside each day for you and your recovery. If you journal and meditate at home, make sure you keep that up whilst you are away. It can be unsettling to be somewhere new and different and maintaining a sense of routine in a new environment will enable you to keep a sense of balance and proportion.
Wherever you are in the world you will be able to find a twelve step meeting. This is one of the most amazing things about the fellowship. It’s a great way to meet like-minded people in a different place. Before you leave make sure you check out when meetings are happening near to where you are staying and figure out a way of getting to them whilst you are there.
Plan fun sober things to do:
There will be a lot of people around you engaging in risky activities. Make sure you are prepared by identifying fun activities that will promote your sobriety. There will be plenty of options from museum trips and guided tours to outdoor adventures. Treat yourself so that you don’t feel like you are missing out by not drinking.
Plan for Triggers:
Triggers can happen anywhere and at any time. Read our blog “How to Avoid 5 of the Most Common Relapse Triggers” for a deeper look at how to avoid certain triggers. Vacations, though,
can bring an extra level of stress to your life. Flight delays, last minute changes, coordinating activities with others, and having to be continually social if you are away with other people can all put a strain on your sobriety.
Tell yourself that things will happen whilst you are away, but you will be able to cope. Know that you can always remove yourself from a situation if it’s becoming too overwhelming and give yourself some time and space to breathe and meditate. Also, make sure you go away with people who are supportive of your recovery and with whom you can discuss how you feel if the need arises.
Vacations can be stressful, and they can be full of triggers and opportunities to relapse. However they can also have a wonderful and positive impact on your recovery. It is empowering to know that you can go away and not drink or use. Seeing new things and meeting new people can also give you a fresh perspective on your life and your recovery. Make your summer vacation extra special. You deserve it!