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Sober Strategies for Vacation

staying sober on vacation

Sober Strategies for Vacation

Did you know?  "Friends of Bill W." is code for AA meetings, inviting recovering alcoholics to meet during travel in airports, cruises and other travel activities to discreetly bring together those in recovery to support one another.

There are many challenges to people who are newly in recovery. In this article we will discuss one of the most talked about difficulties – VACATION!  Vacation should be a time to relax and rejuvenate, but for many this can be a major trigger for relapse. The key is to plan ahead so you can mitigate potential triggers.

First let’s talk about the vacation triggers. Being able to identify triggers is key in developing a strategy.

  • Social gatherings: Seeing others consume substances or feeling social pressure to join in may be challenging.
  • Bars and clubs: Places that are primarily centered around drinking and nightlife can be extremely triggering. These locations' sights, sounds, and fragrances might stir up emotions and appetites.
  • Stress and anxiety: Anxiety or mental distress can be brought on by vacation-related stressors including airline delays, strange environments, or navigating through congested tourist locations.
  • Emotional triggers: A variety of feelings, such as nostalgia, loneliness, or boredom, might surface on a vacation.
  • Familiar places: May create recollections and urges to go to places where substance use was formerly common, such a beloved vacation area or a location connected to prior substance addiction.
  • Peer pressure: When you travel with friends or relatives who might not completely understand or support your recovery, you could feel under pressure to engage in substance use.
  • Celebratory occasions: Vacations sometimes feature gatherings for festivities like birthdays, weddings, or anniversaries where alcohol or drugs are frequently used. These celebratory environments may be distressing, particularly if you have previously connected substance abuse to similar occasions.
  • Relaxation mindset: Being on vacation and wanting to indulge or "reward" yourself might make one more susceptible to cravings. During these circumstances, the impulse to indulge or run away from reality may be intensified.
  • Lack of routine: The disturbance of your normal daily routine while on vacation may make you more susceptible to triggers. Increased freedom and a lack of structure may cause one to concentrate more on desires and temptations.
  • Exposure to advertising and marketing: It may be more difficult to prevent exposure to these triggers in some holiday spots due to the marketing and promotion of alcohol or drugs being more pervasive there.

Strategies to combat relapse triggers.

  • Choose your destination wisely: Find a holiday destination that fits your recovery objectives by doing some research. There are many options like Sober Vacations International or Pure Travel, Instead of going to regions where there is a lot of excessive drinking or drug usage, think about going to places that are recognized for their natural beauty, cultural attractions, or health retreats.
  • Inform your travel companions: Tell your travel companions, whether they are friends, family, or coworkers, about your commitment to sobriety. Ask for their assistance in organizing substance-free activities and emphasize the value of avoiding triggers.
  • Avoid high-risk environments: Determine the locations and circumstances that can potentially cause cravings or make it harder to maintain sobriety. Bars, clubs, and locations where alcohol or drugs are heavily used are examples of these. Make a conscious effort to avoid such settings.
  • Plan alternative activities: Take part in pursuits that advance your wellbeing and keep cravings at bay. Outdoor activities, sightseeing, discovering nearby sites, going to museums, or taking part in cultural events are a few examples. Consider including these activities in your schedule.
  • Create a schedule: Create a detailed daily agenda for your holiday. Include particular activities, mealtimes, downtime, and reflective moments. Making a strategy may keep you organized and minimize the amount of time you spend doing nothing, which could lead to cravings.
  • Stay connected with your support network: Keep in touch often with your sponsor, therapist, or support group. Tell them about your trip plans and any worries or difficulties you foresee. They may offer direction, support, and accountability while you're away.
  • Pack your coping tools: Bring comforting and supporting objects with you. This might include recovery reading material, notebooks, meditation applications, or any other resources that support your mental attitude and help you deal with possible triggers.
  • Practice self-care: Set aside time for self-care practices that encourage rest and stress relief. This might be engaging in regular physical activity, practicing meditation, keeping a journal, or treating oneself to a spa session. Maintaining your physical and mental health improves resilience and aids in avoiding relapse.
  • Identify emergency contacts: While traveling, look out for nearby services like helplines or support groups. Get their contact information so you may reach out to them if you ever need help right away or someone to chat to. org has a listing of international helplines.
  • Attend "Friends of Bill W" meetings: "Friends of Bill W" refers to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings, named after the organization's founder, Bill Wilson. These meetings can provide valuable support while you're away. Look for local AA meetings at your vacation destination and make attending them a priority. Click here for world wide access for Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous


Remember that being proactive and preparing ahead can greatly improve your chances of remaining sober while on vacation. You may have a meaningful and drug-free trip by intentionally avoiding triggers, participating in healthy activities, and maintaining contact with your support system.

If you or someone you love is seeking help with addiction, Scottsdale Detox can provide the comfort and safety during the detox process. Please call us if you have any questions at (480) 646-7660.

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