In a perfect world, addictive disorders would completely disappear at the moment a person decides to live a sober lifestyle. Unfortunately, this is not a perfect world. People with a history of chemical dependency or drug addiction have to remain alert for “triggers,” even after they’ve successfully completed a program at an addiction treatment center. Staying sober while traveling can be particularly tricky if one does not take certain precautions to protect their sobriety.
Before your next trip, take a look at the following 6 tips for staying sober while you travel.
#1. Practice self-care.
Whether you’re traveling for work or for pleasure, meetings, sightseeing, or other activities will probably have you on a different schedule than you’re accustomed to. Whatever your schedule, it’s important to practice self-care so you don’t stretch yourself too thin and make yourself vulnerable to breaking your sobriety. Eating healthy foods and getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night is a great place to start. You can also take your self-care to the next level by scheduling a massage or spa treatment while your work colleagues go barhopping.
#2. Plan fun activities
Hotel rooms can be pretty lonely, and traveling sober shouldn’t just be about avoiding alcohol or drugs. Before you arrive at your destination, or soon after you get there, find some fun things to do in the area. Group tours are a great way to explore a new location and keep yourself from becoming too isolated. Many cities offer history tours, bike tours, or gastronomy tours in interesting neighborhoods. Or if you’d rather take some time to yourself, you can hike, swim in the hotel pool, or visit a park or garden. Whatever activities you plan, they don’t have to cost a lot of money. One of the best perks of living sober is the ability to reconnect to the simple pleasures in life, and traveling is a wonderful opportunity to do just that.
#3. Maintain your wellness routine.
Many people who struggle with addictive disorders find peace and contentment in sobriety by creating a wellness routine designed to keep stress at a minimum. This often includes some combination of exercise, meditation, journaling, and attendance at support group meetings. When traveling, it’s important to maintain as much of your wellness routine as possible. Even if you can’t get your usual 3-mile run or 1-hour yoga class in every day, you can plan for a short walk each day or practice yoga from a DVD in your hotel room. Attending a support group meeting in the area can also go a long way toward helping you stay grounded and sober while traveling.
#4. Carry inspiration with you.
For most people who decide to live sober, there is a particular reason they chose to take that path and free themselves their drug or alcohol addiction. For some, it’s a relationship with a loved one. For others, it’s a sudden realization that they were no longer enjoying life. Whatever that reason is for you, carrying a reminder of it with you can help you fight temptation to turn to drugs or alcohol when you travel. Maybe it’s a picture of your children, a special memento from your sponsor, or an inspirational book that helps you reconnect with why sobriety matters to you. Bring it with you on your trip and make sure you take a moment with it each day you are away from home.
#5. Keep in touch with your support network.
Sobriety and a strong support network go hand-in-hand, and this doesn’t change just because you’re out of town. Whether you’re heading for a family reunion or traveling to a business conference, keeping in touch with your support network back home can help you stay sober on the road. Before you leave, schedule a call with your sponsor, a sober buddy, or your therapist. Be sure to have someone you can make unscheduled calls to as well. If you’re obligated to attend a social activity where your work colleagues will be drinking alcohol, ask a friend back home to expect a text when you’re heading into the event and another when you leave. This small bit of accountability can make all the difference when it comes to staying sober through a potentially tricky situation.
#6. Prepare your coping strategies
Travel is stressful. Even when you’re on vacation, the stress of canceled flights, missed connections, getting lost, or butting heads with family members can trigger cravings for alcohol or drugs. In addition to planning your vacation activities, it’s also important that you plan coping strategies for those moments when your stress levels rise. Prepare your iPod with calming music or guided meditations. Have some deep-breathing exercises on hand. Give yourself permission to step away and find a quiet corner to recite positive affirmations. Having a plan for stressful moments will help you cope with cravings if they arise so you can maintain your sobriety while you’re on the road.
Battling addiction? We can help.
At Alvarado Parkway Institute, we understand how difficult it can be to fight chemical dependency on your own. Our team of dedicated physicians and mental health professionals provides a range of services designed to help patients overcome the challenges associated with addiction. Through a combination of detoxification, family therapy, group therapy, one-on-one therapy, and aftercare planning, we empower patients to live healthy, sober, and engaged lives. For more information on our programs and services, fill out the contact form on our website or call our 24-hour crisis line at 619-667-6125 and start your recovery today.