One of the most difficult hurdles that people face when they are overcoming alcoholism is finding things to occupy their social and leisure time. Boredom can lure anyone back into a lifestyle that they have moved away from very easily. Holidays, vacations and weekends are all high risk times for people overcoming their addiction as these are times for celebrating, indulging and partying. We are conditioned to relax, party and overindulge when we go on holidays, and this is a high risk time for a person in recovery.
There is a vast network of Sober vacation providers who offer holiday options for people who are dealing with recovery and addiction. These organizations are often run by tour operators who have gone through the struggles of addiction themselves and are keen to open the world up to recovering alcohol and drug abusers. These operators know that vacations are high risk times for people and the skills, supports and promises that have been developed may all come unstuck during these times. Sober vacations work with people to ensure that they are not tempted to indulge and will work as counselors if required to help people manage their temptations, fears and anxieties.
Going on a trip can be a scary and anxious time for a person in recovery. Triggers may happen as spoon as a person gets to the airport with a range of bars and cheap duty-free alcohol tempting them to indulge. Once on a plane, most airlines will offer alcohol to customers and at the end of the flight, there will be more cheap alcohol available. The destination will also have many triggers such as large numbers of bars, bottle shops, discounted drinks and party options. Resisting these temptations is difficult and challenging. For a person on an organized sober vacation, these risks can be reduced and support given at the time of temptation.
Sober vacations help people to stay focused and reduce the anxiety associated with traveling during recovering. It also gives people the opportunity to travel to exciting and interesting places while re-discovering themselves and their passions. Additionally, these personalized, small group tours give sober people the chance to meet like-minded people and expand their network of sober friends. Individuals who are going through recovery and want to have a clean and sober life will find that having support from friends and others will make the world of difference when on a holiday.
Organized tours will also have a network of resorts and hotels that guests will stay at that will not serve or offer alcohol to individuals on the trip. In some instances, they will have private villas that have a zero tolerance policy to drugs and alcohol.
Some organized sober vacations will offer participants the opportunity to continue their recovery work with a 12 step program. They will hold discrete meetings to continue the work that these programs have done up to that point and enable recovering individuals to maintain their path to sobriety. Some will organize attendance at a local meeting with expatriates living in the region. The tour operators know that people in recovery need to take things slowly, one step at a time and that nurturing their sobriety is the number one priority for the trip.
For many people, the idea of being on a group tour is not interesting or exciting. They crave independence while traveling and the opportunity to explore new places, meet new people and do new things without being bound to a set itinerary. This type of travel offers many challenges for a person in recovery as most people and places that they will go will have a vibe of partying that is hard to resist. Additionally, meeting new people while travel often happens in bars, restaurants or nightclubs where everyone is intoxicated.
Luckily, there are many opportunities for the independent traveler. Voluntourism is one way to not only explore new places, but to give back to the community. Many of these trips involve working with local communities on much needed projects such as building wells for clean drinking water, teaching basic hygiene skills, building homes, tree planting and teaching English. These type of trips will often have travelers stay in the communities that they work with. Ecotourism involves traveling with small groups or independently to environmentally sensitive regions in the world with a focus on minimal impact and education. This type of travel usually involves a conservation aspect with a tour operator providing educational insights into the local culture, environment and preservation opportunities.
Retreats are another way that people can travel independently while maintaining sobriety. Retreats offer the opportunity for a person to explore themselves, work on their recovery and develop a spiritual awareness. Many of these retreats have strict guidelines on food, activities and most have a zero tolerance policy to alcohol and drugs. Some retreats have a focus on weight loss, but most are designed to help increase the physical and mental health of attendees.
Living the sober life involves a significant change to a persons’ life and lifestyle and many struggle with these changes. Finding things to fill the gap that has been left by giving up alcohol or drugs can be difficult and boredom is frequently given as a reason for relapse. An addiction takes a lot of time and effort to develop, and time and effort is needed to succeed in recovery. Making life changing decisions to stop abusing alcohol or drugs can also mean making life changing decisions in a sober life.
There are many alternatives to drinking and drug taking which includes travel. This healthy and rewarding activity can literally change a persons’ life, open new doors and lead a person on a new life path. Many people who go on vacations meet partners, friends and even decide to move to a new country or place to expand their life. A sober vacation can do the same thing all while not being intoxicated or high.