Summer Travel and Staying Clean

For individuals new in recovery, it’s not just the “bad times” that can be triggering. Positive activities can be equally hard to navigate while maintaining recovery from addiction and alcoholism. For individuals who are new in recovery, a summer vacation might be a relaxing time to get away from it all, but it can also be an interruption to important routines, separation from sobriety support groups and meetings, and times of increased family stress during travel. There are some helpful tips, however, to make summer vacation easier to manage in recovery.

The first tip is to make recovery-focused activities part of your travel plan, not just an afterthought. Vacations are generally about doing something nice for yourself, so it’s totally appropriate to practice the self-care of going to a meeting. Talk to your sponsor and homegroup members before you go; if you’re headed to a popular vacation destination, it’s likely someone you know can recommend a meeting there or even give you the phone number of an experienced 12-step member in that area. Instead of trying to “fit a meeting in,” while on vacation, research when you can find meetings in the city where you’re travelling through the AA or NA websites and plan to go to a meeting the first day that you’re on vacation. If you have dinner or theater plans every night of the vacation, look for morning or noon meetings. If you’re vacationing beyond the reaches of civilization, set aside time to go to a Zoom meeting or two while you’re out of town and bring a notebook to work on the 12 steps.

The next tip is to communicate honestly and openly about your limits and feelings. If you can’t imagine going on a fishing boat all day without a beer in your hand, talk to someone about it. Talking with a sponsor, therapist, spouse, or even your fishing buddy about your discomfort beforehand will give you the opportunity to decide whether you can or should handle a tricky situation (before you’re stranded on the high seas next to a beer cooler with no way to leave). You might find new ways to enjoy old hobbies, or maybe you’ll find new hobbies altogether to enjoy. Skipping that fishing trip might open your eyes to the wonderful world of spa-days or mini-golf or something else you might just enjoy more.

Finally, keep an open mind. Many addicts and alcoholics in early recovery mistakenly believe that the fun times are over. Once the partying and drinking stops, it can be hard to believe that you’ll ever have fun again. Thank goodness that’s not true! Living clean presents opportunities beyond our expectations; not only are you free to explore beautiful beaches and mountains and cities without that excruciating hang-over, you’re free to explore yourself in the world as a secure, balanced person, a person with mental, physical, and emotional health, as a person with real, lasting friendships, and as a person with a new lease on life.

At New Paradigm Recovery in Tysons, Virginia, we believe in recovery. Recovery doesn’t just mean quitting drugs. It’s about living life to the fullest, about achieving potential, and about discovery—discovery of self and discovery of a big, beautiful world around us.

This summer, get out there and find new meetings, take time to relax and reflect, and be honest with yourself and others about your boundaries. You’ll be surprised how much fun recovery can be.

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