Now that summer has finally hit the team here at Rehab 4 Addiction has seen a huge increase in calls from people having relapsed on holiday. People work incredibly hard all year round and look forward to the summer season as a time to relax. Those in recovery are no different from anybody else. Unfortunately, people in recovery often do not plan for the relapse challenge going on holiday often entails. Many addicts simply let their guard down when it comes to guarding their recovery when abroad.
The aim of this blog post is to teach recovered addicts a number of coping strategies designed to fight off the relapse urge whilst on holiday. We believe being in recovery should not stop a recovered addict from going on holiday. However, going on holiday does mean recovered addicts must take extra precautions when doing so.
Without further ado, we now list tips for remaining safely in recovery throughout your holiday.
Planning ahead means making an effort to identify and anticipate recovery challenges both before and during your holiday. Planning allows you to build safeguards into your holiday even before you arrive. If you fail to plan then you plan to fail.
Before you go on holiday we urge you to travel to a destination not associated with drugs and/or alcohol. For instance, Amsterdam is synonymous with cannabis and other drugs. Destinations such as Magaluf are associated with drinking alcohol. Rehab 4 Addiction advises those in recovery to travel to places not associated with drug/alcohol abuse. Consider travelling to destinations associated with natural beauty or where alcohol/drug abuse is not the central theme of the holiday.
You need to assess risks on a daily basis whilst on holiday. Planning does not conclude at the airport. Planning must be a dynamic process where you assess risks are they arise. Be on the lookout for new triggers you bump into on holiday and plan accordingly. We suggest you plan to avoid relapse risks each and every day, preferably in the morning. This should help you stay focused on your recovery goals throughout the day.
Take games, puzzles and books away with you. This means you plan for ‘downtime’. This downtime could lead to boredom. Boredom could lead to relapse. Keeping yourself occupied during times of inactivity could be the difference between staying in recovery and relapsing. Also, plan for activities known to reduce your cravings. This could include meditation, yoga or breathing exercises.
Above all remember being on holiday exposes you to new risks you may not recognise. You thus need to dynamically plan as and when triggers arise. All of your recovery education up to now is tailored to meeting specific relapse challenges existing in your normal everyday life. Going on holiday forces you to evaluate new risks and thus change your relapse prevention strategy accordingly. Long term recovery requires those in recovery to respond flexibly to new threats as and when they arise. Going on holiday should act as a healthy challenge to your resolve to stay in recovery.
Another preparation tip worth noting is to find an addiction support group in your country of destination. This could include a local drug and alcohol rehab centre or even NA/AA meeting. This may help you avoid relapse whilst on holiday. Attending such a group also lets you view the recovery journey from a fresh perspective.
A lack of discipline whilst on holiday often leads to relapse. Many recovered addicts reason they deserve ‘just one drink’ or ‘just one hit’ when on holiday. This over-lenient attitude could lead to a lengthy battle with addiction by the time you return home. Although we encourage recovered addicts to enjoy their holidays, we also urge them to remember the consequences of having that ‘one drink’ or ‘one hit’.
Above all accept relapse challenges will arise when on holiday. This mental attribute is the key to avoiding relapse. If you accept relapse challenges will be met whilst abroad you are much more likely to face these challenges successfully.
We urge recovered addicts to categorise risks they meet on holiday as ‘low’, ‘medium’ and ‘high’. Those new to recovery should generally avoid ‘medium’ or ‘high’ risks whilst on holiday. This is because those new to recovery find themselves in unfamiliar territory bringing with it unfamiliar triggers. This may break the resolve of those new to recovery.
A holiday environment brings with it many risky situations threatening to derail the recovery. The holiday sector is classed as a hospitality industry. Therefore alcohol and even drugs may be widely available. Those in recovery are urged to consider these factors before they choose any particular holiday destination. Recovered addicts are urged not to attend an ‘all-inclusive’ holiday where alcohol is freely available. This applies to both recovered alcoholic and those in recovery for other drug addictions. As the saying goes: “If you visit the barbershop often enough you’re bound to get a haircut.” Translating this to a holiday environment, when you stay in an environment where alcohol is freely available you are more likely to ‘give in’ to temptation at some point or another.
As part of your planning make sure you know ‘high risk’ places to avoid whilst on holiday. This helps reduce the risk of bumping into places where alcohol and/or drugs are widely available.
Triggers likely to encourage relapse equally include exposure to certain people as well as exposure to certain places. People you meet on holiday are unlikely to be in recovery. In fact, many of these people are unlikely to even understand the significance of ‘being in recovery’. You are therefore advised to stay away from those who insist on drinking alcohol.
Before you travel to make sure you inform your family and/or addiction support group of your plans to travel abroad. Whilst on holiday stay in touch with these people back home. Add their phone number to your mobile phone’s address book and make a note of their email address too. This means you keep your family and/or support network active even when you are thousands of miles away from home.
Always remember to practice HALT whilst on holiday. Halt stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely and Tired. You must avoid these emotions at all cost. If you feel any of these emotions you put yourself at greater risk of relapse. Regularly eat and sleep so you remain physically and emotionally strong throughout your holiday.
I hope you enjoyed this post on avoiding relapse when on holiday. If you or a loved one suffers from addiction, be sure to contact Rehab 4 Addiction. With private rehab centres throughout the United Kingdom, I am sure our advisors will find a suitable centre near you.