Reducing your alcohol intake when you’re not an alcoholic is already difficult enough, which means abstaining from alcohol as an actual alcoholic can be ten times harder.
At home, staying sober can be manageable, especially with proper addiction treatment methods. But when you’re going on vacation and encounter all sorts of temptation, abiding by your rules can seem like an impossible task. That said, it may be better to pass on vacationing until you feel ready enough. But even if you feel like you’re prepared, it’s still a good idea to make some extra precautions to help yourself stay sober:
1. Consider the people you’re going with
If you are traveling solo, it may be easier to steer clear from alcohol because there is no one to ask you to come to the bar. But when you’re traveling with other people that drink, the temptation can be very hard to fight.
With that in mind, consider the type of people you’re going on vacation with. If they are understanding enough of your situation (and if you’re willing to tell them about it in the first place), they won’t pressure you into having a drink with them and may even go out of their way to avoid mentioning alcohol at all. But if the people you’re planning to travel with are the type to be pushy, it may be in your best interests to refuse the trip altogether than risk going into relapse.
2. Call the hotel in advance
Contact the hotel at least a few days before your arrival and ask them to clear out the mini-bar in your room. You could also request to replace the alcohol with different refreshments to give you something to sip on while relaxing in your hotel. Just to be sure, ask the receptionist if they have completed your request when you arrive at the hotel.
3. Sit out the bars and clubs
It may not be fun to hang back while your travel buddies enjoy themselves at the local bar or club, but it can be extremely tempting to take a drink in a place where everybody else is doing the same. Doing this is especially important if you still feel strong urges whenever you are faced with temptation, which is very common in the early stages of alcoholism recovery.
However, this doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the night in your own way. Find a local cafe and enjoy a cup of coffee, or perhaps check out a tourist attraction. If someone else from your group decides to sit out the bar with you, then all the better. But if not, you can still have fun on your own, and most importantly, without any alcohol.
4. Stay in contact with your support system
Whether it’s your psychiatrist, rehab counselor, parents, or a fellow former alcoholic, reach out to the people that can offer you support when you’re having trouble during the trip. Even when you are not facing temptation, checking in with your support system can help remind you of your goals and help you stay on track.
Aside from being a great way to curb your cravings, talking to your support system can also serve as a great distraction.
5. Be mentally prepared
Before you even book your flight, start preparing yourself mentally for the temptations, anxieties, and triggers that are about to come your way–because yes, there will be many.
Once you accept the fact that you will face a lot of challenges during the trip, think about ways on how you can distract yourself. Maybe you can read a book or immerse yourself in your favorite playlist. Perhaps you can bring a fidget toy and use it to calm yourself down during particularly triggering situations. Use whatever strategy that works for you, and set the mindset that you are strong enough to overcome temptations before you even set foot in the airport.
6. Psych yourself up for activities
A vacation should be a relaxing and fun experience. Don’t spend it worrying about when the next trigger will come or what you will do if it does. Instead, focus on the opportunities for enjoyment and learning and positive experiences. Watch vlogs about your destination, make a list of the activities you want to do, research the local culture, and so on; whatever it takes to block out the negatives.
Taking a vacation often feels like a test for many recovering alcoholics. But instead of looking at it as a risk for relapsing, view it as an opportunity to make yourself stronger, desensitize yourself to temptations, and, of course, have fun.