The Risk of Traveling When You’re Early in Your Sobriety

Sobriety |

If you’re early in your sobriety, there are so many triggers around you that could lead to relapse. Although you may not realize it at first, in a sense, you may still have one foot in your old life. Although all of you may be yearning for a clean way of life, you might still yearn for the old times.

You may still crave for the highs, the wild friendships, and the romance of being an addict. Sure, you likely don’t miss the danger or destruction one bit because that’s likely what brought you to get sober.

Whether this is true for you or not, the point is that early in recovery there is still a lot of ambivalence. And even if the level of your ambivalence is low, you may still be vulnerable to cravings. For this reason, it’s essential to keep yourself in environments that are safe, those that will protect you from wanting to return to an old way of life.

One trigger for many people is the experience of traveling. When we travel there is often a feeling of celebration. People who are on vacation want to have a good time. They want to have fun.

Even the experience of being on a plane might prompt you to order a drink when the stewardess walks through the aisle. When you arrive, you might want to order a drink from the hotel bar or have a margarita when you’re lounging by the pool. It can be tricky to travel when you’re new to sobriety, especially if traveling was associated with drinking, good times, and getting drunk.

If you’re about to travel, here are some ways to protect yourself from relapsing:

Write a mission statement before you leave

  • Before you take off, write down who you are and what you are meant to do. Or you may want to write down why you have chosen to get sober. This might be for your kids, your marriage, your career. Write down the meaning and purpose behind your sobriety in a couple of sentences and keep it near you at all times. You might have it in your wallet, back pocket, or purse. But keep it in a place where you can pull it out when you need it.

Create a package of familiar items that you can take with you

As you begin your sobriety, you’re going to build associations in your mind between you and your new sober life. For example, you might have a song, a certain piece of clothing you wear, or even a particular kind of food. Bring with you a baggie of yummy and cozy items that will keep you feeling safe and sound in your sobriety. Some of these items could be:

  1. Photos of family and friends whom you love
  2. Affirmations that keep you feeling strong inside
  3. Rocks or crystals that have meaning and significance for you.
  4. Stuffed animals that bring you joy
  5. Lotion or massage oils that you appreciate feeling on your skin
  6. A personal journal so that you can write out your experiences, thoughts, and feelings.
  7. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or other comfort foods
  8. Your favorite quotes that inspire you
  9. Magazine articles that encourage you and keep you moving toward your goal.
  10. A drum or an instrument so that you can play music
  11. Relaxation CD’s to keep yourself feeling calm and relaxed
  12. A workout CD so that you can exercise while you’re away
  13. Poetry that warms your heart and invokes insight
  14. Hot cocoa mix to stay warm and cozy if it gets cold where you’re headed
  15. Spiritual books to boost your spiritual practice and give strength to your sobriety as you travel
  16. Fuzzy socks to stay cozy
  17. Herbal tea to stay warm and to treat yourself to what you enjoy.
  18. Bring a list of phone numbers with you to call when you need it. If you’re traveling alone, you may need support as you travel. You might want to have with you the phone numbers of your sponsor, spouse, children, or parents. Being able to call someone instead of ordering a drink is the choice that could keep you sober.

Traveling can be difficult because of the many temptations it offers. But with the right tools with you on your journey, you can walk past those temptations without even blinking. It’s absolutely possible to enjoy your travels and stay sober at the same time.


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