If you're in addiction recovery, you may be concerned that a beach vacation is out of the question, but that simply isn't true. While many people see vacations as an opportunity to drink as much as they want, that isn't really what they're about. The true purpose of a vacation is to provide you with an opportunity to rest, reconnect, play, brainstorm, and rejuvenate. Don't think of sobriety as an end to having fun. Sobriety can enhance your vacation, and you'll see that you don't need drugs or alcohol to enjoy yourself.
Furthermore, taking that beach vacation is a great way to beat the winter blues. In fact, the loss of energy and accompanying depression you feel when the winter months arrive is known as Seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Depression can make it easy to fall back into bad habits, so talk with your doctor about how you are feeling--a beach vacation may be just what the doctor orders.
Focus on the Benefits and Maintain Your Routine
Vacations tend to be more enjoyable when you stay sober. You won't skip out on fun activities that you plan. You'll also be able to fit more activities into your itinerary, meaning you can see and do even more on your vacation. Also, those activities are going to be more enjoyable when you're sober instead of recovering from binging on drugs or alcohol.
Many memories are created while on a vacation, but spending the vacation using drugs or drinking alcohol means you won't likely remember anything, and if you do, it may be how awful you felt. A sober vacation means you can soak up all of the fun, savor every moment, and remember the positive and enjoyable times you had. Another bonus is saving money by not spending it on drugs or alcohol.
Everyone is guilty of falling out of their routine while on vacation, whether it's their diet, exercise, or sleep. Be aware of this, and make a point to stick to your routine by continuing the things that have helped you stay sober so far. Think of saying no to alcohol and drugs on vacation the same way you say no every other day. Whether you utilize meditation, attend meetings, or call a sponsor, don't stop just because you're away from home. Have an exit strategy in place should the temptation suddenly arise, and more importantly, don't hesitate to use it.
Plan Plenty of Activities
When planning a vacation, pack your itinerary full of activities. The beach has ample opportunities for fun, including biking, sightseeing, kayaking, snorkeling, surfing, and just relaxing by the water with a book. Before leaving for your trip, research the area and discover what options are available. Try to plan a few things for each day. Focusing on the plans for the day can prevent you from even thinking about drinking or using drugs. In addition, make sure your plans don't involve potential triggers. Hanging with the locals at their watering hole and listening to live music might be fun, but intentionally putting yourself in an environment where drugs and alcohol may be present isn't a good idea.
Be sure to choose a location that has a lot to offer. There are great beaches on both sides of the country. The East Coast has plenty of choices. The southeast has options like Alabama beaches or beaches close to famous cities like Savannah, GA and Charleston, SC. Some cities are famous for their beaches, like Panama City Beach, FL and Destin, FL. Venture further north, and you'll find Cape Cod, MA, Atlantic City, NJ, or Long Island, NY. The West Coast is full of choices too. Of course, California's beaches are plentiful, including popular options near San Francisco, but Oregon and Washington have beautiful beaches too, including Cannon Beach and Westport.
Consider taking a trip with a group that promotes sobriety. Clean Fun Network in New York City is a social network that hosts sober travel experiences in a variety of locations, including Montana, Puerto Rico, Nicaragua, Chile, and Costa Rica. The trips are packed full of amazing activities. Sober Vacations International runs week-long trips to Cancun, the Galapagos Islands, and Turks and Caicos Islands. You can attend multiple meetings a day while enjoying activities that are exhilarating or relaxing. Travel Sober and cruise companies join together to offer sober cruises, trips to AA conventions, and vacations to places all over the world.
Taking a vacation can boost your physical and mental health, but that can only be accomplished for those in addiction recovery if the individual enjoys a sober vacation. Taking steps to plan for the vacation is crucial. Choose a good location with a lot to do, and plan your itinerary ahead of time. Remember to maintain your normal routine, and consider planning your trip through a group that focuses on sober vacations. Following these tips can help you successfully go on vacation without any alcohol or drugs but with all of the fun.