Summer is approaching, and that has many people thinking about vacations. There is a lot that goes into taking a trip. From the logistics of travel and lodging to packing, the list of things to consider can go on and on. If you are in recovery from substance abuse, there is an extra layer to your travel planning. Planning a substance-free vacation is a way to carry your recovery with you to whatever destination you might be jetting off to. 

Why Should You Consider a Substance-Free Vacation?

You might not think that maintaining your recovery will be a challenge while you are on vacation. After all, you have been putting in effort and making progress in your treatment. You might feel prepared to tackle the triggers that come along with a trip like this. That confidence is important and you deserve to feel that way. It is still important to consider that recovery is a journey of ups and downs. If you are early in recovery, a vacation will be a novel experience as you work to maintain your sobriety. Any new experience can bring unexpected triggers and warrants taking the appropriate precautions.

Understanding Your Potential for Relapse

You might also find yourself wondering if using substances while on vacation would actually be that bad. After all, it is only a short period of time and you could just get back into your recovery routine once you return, right? Unfortunately, addiction does not care if you are going on vacation. 

Even if you try to use substances in moderation, addiction carves deep ruts into the brain and you might find yourself slipping right back into destructive substance abuse habits. Relapse can easily be preceded by that “just one drink” mentality. The risk is not worth it, so finding ways to structure a substance-free vacation is the best approach to safeguarding your recovery. Family-Centered Services has solutions to ensure you can make the most of your vacation while sticking to your recovery goals. 

Accept That a Substance-Free Vacation Will Be Different

As you are planning your substance-free vacation, it is essential to recognize that this will most likely be different from other vacations you have been on. Perhaps you are used to going to a particular resort with your family each year as part of a tradition. This annual trip may have generally involved significant alcohol use, which you are now not able to partake in. Giving up that tradition will be difficult. However, it creates room for you to establish healthier, more rewarding traditions.

A consistent theme with recovery is that life might feel different, but that does not mean it is worse. While there are countless challenges associated with recovery, the benefits still manage to outnumber the drawbacks. There are still plenty of ways to have fun and relax on vacation without relying on substances. 

Surround Yourself With the Right People

The people we surround ourselves with greatly influence us. We need to be in the right environment to thrive in sobriety. There are most likely some amazing people in your life who quickly adapted to your need to be sober. They are willing to go without substances when they spend time with you. On the other hand, it is also likely that there are people who are still navigating what it means to interact with you in recovery but who are actively trying. Unfortunately, there might be a handful of people who are not able to show up for you and who refuse to abstain from alcohol and drugs in your presence.

Just as there are people who are more beneficial for you to be around in your daily life and those who are more detrimental, there are certain people who are better suited to support you on vacation. These are people who are committed to maintaining a substance-free vacation and who will not promote the “just one drink” fallacy. Supportive friends and family members who can create their own fun without relying on substances can help keep you accountable and demonstrate how it is possible to thrive in the absence of drugs and alcohol. 

Choosing a Destination for Your Substance-Free Vacation

There are certainly some destinations that are very oriented toward substance use. For example, resorts and cruises that make alcohol readily available or that have an all-inclusive setup can spell disaster for someone in recovery. Having that level of access and exposure to alcohol can cause temptation to grow. Even if you are able to withstand the urges, it might be hard to focus on anything else, much less enjoy yourself. 

Try to find destinations where alcohol is not a selling point. Create an itinerary filled with fun activities that keep you busy and get you out of those triggering environments. Vacations that incorporate outdoor activities like kayaking, ziplining, swimming, or snorkeling can create a stimulating environment free from substances. Another example would be a vacation centered on an area’s culture and landmarks, including tours and museum visits. This is your opportunity to get creative and explore new interests without substances holding you back.

Remember to Pack Your Recovery Toolkit

While you are packing your sunscreen and passport, it is important to bring your metaphorical recovery toolkit with you. Family-Centered Services can help you with this preparation. You can check in with your therapist to refresh your coping skills before you head out. This might involve working with them to anticipate potential triggering situations you might encounter while on vacation and identify strategies to endure them. 

During your trip, you might also benefit from sober monitoring, adding an extra layer of support. Moreover, keeping your recovery goals and relapse plan in your mind and even in physical form can provide a buffer against relapse on your trip.

You have been working hard in treatment, and you deserve a reward. As summer approaches, a vacation can be the perfect reward. Even though routines and rules change while on vacation, something that needs to remain stable is your commitment to recovery. As much of a reward a vacation is, thriving in recovery from substance abuse is the greatest reward. You will most likely encounter many triggering situations, but with the right preparation and support, you can enjoy your vacation without sacrificing your progress toward a life free from substances. Family-Centered Services wants to see you thrive, and that is why our comprehensive services are tailored to your family’s needs. Call us at (509) 991-5822 to learn more.