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Six Ways to Stay Sober While Traveling

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Woman in recovery works to stay sober even when traveling disrupts her normal routine after substance abuse treatment at Destination Hope

Temptation is all around us; it’s just a fact of life. However, when traveling, it can be even harder to resist. This can be for several reasons. First, it seems that the opportunities to drink or abuse substances are more plentiful in your travels. Second, the stress of travel increases the likelihood of making a mistake. Finally, the laid-back and relaxed nature of a vacation may tempt you into a false sense of security, thinking that one drink or one hit will end there. Unfortunately, these issues can make it very difficult to avoid relapse. In this article, we discuss five ways to minimize the risk of relapse during your trip.

  • Try to start your journey at a reasonable hour. This gives you a greater chance of leaving and arriving properly rested and less stressed. There’s nothing worse than having a sleepless night then needing to leave very early in the morning. When you’re low on sleep, even the smallest of issues during your trip can feel unmanageable. Along the same lines, try to leave when traffic is light, so you don’t have to worry about getting there on time.
  • If you’re on vacation with others, discuss any concerns you may have about alcohol or drug use beforehand. If the people you’re traveling with use alcohol or drugs recreationally, you may wish to plan substance-free activities with them while letting them consume it alone. If they cannot modify their trip with your sobriety in mind, it may be best to travel without them.
  • Plan your trip. It’s worth knowing where you’ll be, including where you are eating well in advance, so you can prepare for any temptations that may arise. Of course, you want to have some spontaneity in the trip, but good planning reduces stress and makes you ready for any eventuality.
  • Have your support system on speed dial. Whether it is your therapist, support group buddies, sponsor, or helpful family members, don’t worry about bothering them. Having these support systems available to you, even if you are far away or overseas, is critical to making sure you do not fall back into relapse.
  • Practice your coping skills and mechanisms. You have learned how to avoid temptation during your stint in treatment. While you may be on vacation and the dynamic may be very different from your day-to-day life, these tactics and techniques do not change. Reinforce what you learned in treatment throughout your trip to ensure you don’t give in to the temptation of using while you’re away.
  • Lastly, but certainly not least, is to stay busy. This will include sightseeing, actively relaxing, exercising, and more. If you have a full schedule, you will be stimulated, which may reduce the risk of looking toward substances that will derail your sobriety. Remember that not all activity needs to be strenuous. Taking the time to be mindful and relaxed is essential as well.
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With good planning, reinforcement of your coping skills, and proper preparation, traveling can be easy and relapse-free. Staying in control of your sobriety during a trip is eminently doable; make sure you are well prepared. Of course, should you need additional support, we encourage you to contact us!

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