How to Stay Sober While Traveling

Many recovering alcoholics and addicts do a lot of traveling during the holiday season, and traveling can be challenging when you’re trying to stay sober. You’re away from everything and everyone that’s familiar, and it may seem like alcohol is everywhere. Vacations are supposed to be a time for relaxing and having fun, but instead you may be feeling anxious and uncomfortable.

Hotels, airports, restaurants and the flashing lights of unfamiliar streets all conspire to invite people to drink. For anyone who has ever had a problem with alcohol, the most natural thing in the world is to walk into a hotel bar and order a drink, or to accept a flight attendant’s offer of an adult beverage.

That is exactly the problem. Picking up a drink or a drug comes naturally to you. Staying sober requires that you remain vigilant around people, places or things that may set off cravings when you least expect it.

Another problem is that you might have the idea that you can get away with picking up while away from home. The insidiousness of the disease of addiction may cause you to think that it won’t really matter if you have just one or two because nobody will ever know.

But you will know. And wherever you travel, you will take yourself and the disease of addiction with you.

Finding Support Away From Home

When you travel, you are separated from your support network. You can’t go to your normal meetings or see your group of sober friends for however long you are traveling. Your familiar routine is disrupted.

How do you find the support of other sober people when you are traveling? It helps if you make an effort to stay in touch with sober friends with phone calls, emails or texts. Try to check in with a sober connection at least once a day. When people in your recovery circle are unavailable, you may want to consider participating in online forums.

Remember that even though you aren’t home, you are not alone. Chances are good that wherever you are, there are meetings. Look up AA or NA in the phone book or online in the city you’re visiting. Other sober people are somewhere nearby even though your home group is not. 

Stick With the Basics

The same basic things that have helped you to stay sober at home will help you if you are on the road. Remember to ask for help, whether it is from people you know at home or by reaching out to sober strangers at meetings in the city you are visiting.

Get in the habit of reading recovery literature. Everything from the slogans to daily meditation books can help to center you and remind you of the steps you need to take to lead a contented, sober life. Spend time meditating or quietly reflecting on your day. You may find it helpful to write in a journal.

Think through the consequences of picking up a drink or a drug. Remember that the way to attain sobriety is one day at a time. While you are traveling, remind yourself that all you have to get through is a single 24-hour period at a time and that it’s only a matter of time until you will be home, where your support system awaits.

Keeping Recovery Up Front

When you are planning your trip, plan ahead to protect your sobriety. Spend some time thinking about some of the situations you may be confronted with. When you are asked if you want a drink, practice saying no or saying something like, “I’d rather have a water with lemon, please.”

Recovery has to stay up front in your mind whether you are home or not. You have made a decision to get sober and to stay that way. To maintain your sobriety, you have to want to stay sober more than you want to pick up.

Time spent away from home doesn’t have to threaten your sobriety. Don’t pick up a drink or a drug no matter what, and you’ll be home before you know it.

There is still hope.

Our licensed addiction experts can help. Call us today for a confidential assessment.


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