By Haley Kennedy, Recovery Coach – 5.13.2022 –
Having a set routine is a critical part of recovery from substance use disorder; they keep you occupied and protect you from some of the temptations that come along with too much downtime. Although having a routine is important… it doesn’t mean you can never leave your city/town. Everyone needs a break occasionally and a vacation is a great way to rejuvenate the mind, body, and soul.
If recovery is new to you, or vacationing, or both, start with short vacations like a long weekend. Once you feel comfortable safely managing your recovery while away from home, you can begin to go away for longer periods of time.
If this is your first trip since finding recovery, it might be good to travel with someone who supports your recovery and can keep you accountable. A travel buddy is not meant to be a babysitter but rather offer support if/when needed.
Before you travel, do some research on where you’re going. If you can, look for settings that emphasize supporting wellness (like a hotel that offers spa services) or an area that has sober activities (like 12 step meetings). There are also rental apps that make it easy to rent a vacation home, which may be a safer option to support recovery than an all-inclusive resort.
If you are staying in a hotel, and want to avoid temptation, you can request that alcohol be removed from the minibar prior to your arrival.
Scheduling calls with a loved one for the duration of your trip can not only keep you accountable but hearing a familiar voice can keep you grounded and focused on your recovery while away.
Make sure to eat regularly, get a good night’s sleep, and never allow yourself to reach the point of exhaustion. It’s easy to sacrifice necessities like sleep during a trip. You may think that life is short and that you should get as much out of the trip as you can, but be sure to avoid burning yourself out, as the HALT feelings (hungry, angry, lonely, tired) are known as relapse triggers.
If you’re attending a function, such as a wedding, you can turn your wine glass over, so the wait staff knows not to fill it. Or keep a glass of sparkling water, or a Shirley Temple with you so people don’t offer you drinks.
Never travel without your coping essentials, like a good book, a sketch pad, music, your shows, or meditation podcasts.
And always have an exit plan if things get overwhelming, or aren’t going as you planned – like a meeting to attend, person to call, or another safe activity/coping skill to engage in.
Remember that this time is meant for YOU; rest and relaxation are just as important to your recovery as regular meeting attendance, therapy sessions, and all of the other activities you engage in to support your recovery. So do the things that excite you and bring you joy, you’ve earned it!