School holidays have arrived, summer is here, and many of us are thinking about taking a break. Golden sandy beaches, sightseeing in capital cities, camping in the great outdoors, or simply a trip to visit family and friends, it is always good to be able to take some time off from the daily grind, kick back and chill out. But for some, especially those in early recovery, taking a break from safe places and known routines might seem a bit daunting, and the idea of travel can feel downright scary.
Unfortunately, travelling can be a trigger for many individuals. Maybe it is returning to former haunts, reliving old memories, and experiencing certain emotions that cause the fall back into old and addictive behaviours. Some suffer stress during travel, this can trigger issues with mental health, which then leads to relapse or an anxious or depressive episode.
Holidays whilst in active alcoholism and addiction were often a whirlwind of late-night bars and hangover fuelled top-up sessions. The most important mission is to ascertain where the next drink or drug was coming from. How many of your holidays were just one long pub crawl, which you returned from more exhausted than when you left?
Vacations in sobriety are a time to relax, see the sights, experience local culture, eat good food, and most of all rest. It is however a good idea to be prepared, especially if this is your first trip since getting clean and sober.
1- Keep in touch – with trusted friends and routines
“There is nothing in this world that can trouble you as much as your own thoughts.” – Unknown
Whether you started your journey of recovery at a rehab centre, in an institution, or through attending peer group fellowship meetings one of the first and most important lessons learnt is to stay in touch with other like-minded individuals. Reaching out keeps you connected and accountable.
No matter where you are in the world today technology makes it is easy to text, talk or email someone at any time. Make sure you have regular check-ins with your sponsor, close friends, or support network. Take time to make it a part of your daily travel schedule to speak to at least one other person in recovery, this will keep you grounded, and gives you a chance to get niggling worries and concerns off your chest.
Stick with familiar routines, if you like to have ten minutes of quiet time first thing in the morning, or the last thing before bed-maybe to read, meditate or write in your journal-stick to this, it will help you feel settled and at ease.
Have something on hand to read or listen to. It is always handy to have something to distract you from your own thoughts and take you out of yourself. Reading about other people’s recovery stories or listening to another fellow is a great way to stop the head from taking over. There are loads of apps available on smartphones, so you don’t even have to carry any heavy books.
2- Have a plan
“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” – Alexander Graham Bell
It is always good to be prepared for a trip, even more so when you want to avoid getting yourself into situations and places that could be risky for your sobriety. Before you leave home, research what is happening in the area, plan to do things that are fun and safe. There is plenty of stuff you can book to do online before you even leave (museums, art galleries, trips to waterparks or historic sites), that way you have an idea of what you will be doing, and you won’t be left hanging out somewhere bored and restless.
Look online for fellowship meetings (Alcoholics Anonymous, AA, Narcotics Anonymous, NA) or other support networks close to where you are staying, find out when and where the nearest meetings are held. You could even get in touch with the telephone contact for local groups. They will be able to give you up to date details about changes to meetings and let you know if there are any sober activities happening in the vicinity during your stay.
3- Stay away from dangerous people, places, and things
“I generally avoid temptation, unless I can’t resist it.” – Mae West
One of the easiest ways to stay safe and to protect yourself from unwanted temptations and cravings is to avoid the people, places and things that are dangerous for us. This is especially important if you are returning to an area or place where you have a history or where you formerly used and partied. Stay away from bars, haunts, and old friends that you previously used and drank with.
Remove temptation from your path. If you are staying in a hotel with a minibar in the bedroom, ask for it to be removed. Don’t hang around in the hotel bar, and don’t arrange to meet people in places that are renowned for drinking.
Travelling for work
And what if you are travelling for work? The same suggestions apply, stay in touch with friends back home, have an idea of what is happening in the area, and have an exit plan in case of any boozy work dinners or nights out. It might be an idea to let someone at work know that you are in recovery, that way they can be on board to back you up if you need an excuse to leave early or even miss it completely.
Now that you are sober the world is open to you, there is no longer any need to be confined and trapped by your addiction, you have real freedom, and it can be amazing. Your first sober trip will be an experience and memory to keep forever.
Rehab in Spain
Are your holidays more about drinking than about relaxing? Do you feel you cannot take a vacation as you are trapped at home by your addiction or another mental health illness?
Here at the private rehab clinic on the beautiful island of Ibiza, we can help. For information on admissions contact email@example.com
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