Certain events in life are times for joyous celebrations and gatherings, such as the winter holidays and summer vacations. For some people, however, these seasons could be a tremendous test of willpower. This is particularly true for people who just came out of rehab and are trying desperately to stay clean and away from substances that could get back into their bad habits.
Others who have not been through the ordeal of detox and withdrawal will never know the struggle, but even the simple act of generosity of giving a former alcoholic a drink during these events is enough to tip them over. This is why it falls on the people who wish to stay clean to ensure that they are mentally and psychologically primed to do so.
This, however, doesn’t mean that they have to stay away from celebrations and gatherings. What people need to remember is that socializing and having fun at gatherings does not equate to a drinking spree or taking substances again. There are ways to ensure that summer vacations remain sober summer.
Create A Self-Care Practice
The truth about people having to remain sober is that while the person is doing everything humanly possible not to touch the stuff, everyone else around the person might not care what the person is going through. Unless the family had been with the person when they first quit the habit, they would not know the difficulty of rehab.
With this in mind, it now falls on the person to create a self-care practice that they could rely on when things become difficult during gatherings and events. Do not expect others to not drink while at the event to avoid presenting a temptation. Do not expect people not to display their medications when they are taking them.
By not expecting others to tiptoe around the person who had come out of rehab, there is a real atmosphere of normal life, and in normal life, people look out for themselves. Do not be offended if people don’t seem to consider the sensitivities of someone who had just come from rehab. This is how people could care for themselves and not create an unrealistic atmosphere around them where people always need to consider if they are weakening the person’s will to not drink or use substances. Relying on others is a sure way to fail and possibly fall into relapse.
Take the Lessons at Therapy to Heart
Lingering urges are typically strongest for the first 15 minutes or so that a person gets them. This is something that is taught during therapy. During gatherings where a cold and frosty bottle of beer just seems so inviting, remember that you only have to hold out for a few minutes, and then the urge will wash over you and be gone.
Therapy also teaches that when the urge is just so strong and the environment is not helping either, you could choose to remove yourself from that environment. Taking a walk for a while until the urge passes is completely acceptable, and is the least awkward thing to do than make a scene at the event.
Another lesson from therapy is disclosure. Tell people that you’re on the wagon and you’re trying to stay on it. The worst that could happen is that people will not insist you drink, as opposed to not telling them and they keep on pushing a bottle into your hand.
Manage Your Stress
Stress always counts among the top reasons why people took substances in the first place. To be more specific, the inability to deal with or manage stress is the reason for taking substances. People do this because it is the easiest form of escape, as most people who do not know how to manage their stress will do their best to escape from it instead.
The difficulty with trying to escape stress is that stress tends to be all around us at all times. This is why it would be far more practical to try to manage your reactions to stress than try to run away from it.
Many would argue that exercise isn’t considered stress management, and is just one form of escape from it, as people who exercise still have stressors in their life, but they are just too busy with their routine to be bothered by it. While there is a measure of truth to this, the entire point is to not let the stress elicit a reaction that will be regrettable later on, such as trying to drink away the annoyance that came with the stress.
Find Ways to Have Fun Without Substances
Vacations mostly involve adventures where there is water, and most reputable locations have policies against people who become so inebriated that they become a hazard to others. Also, getting drunk or high while in the water is almost always a good way to drown or get into some other form of trouble.
If the idea of activity is not something desirable, find a quiet and relatively comfortable place to simply take in the location and relax. There are many ways to enjoy a vacation and most of them don’t even involve alcohol or other substances. Going through a new experience is one of the best ways to get a natural high, and this is typically part of most vacations. The memories of a vacation without bad incidents are also the ones we tend to cherish the most. This is why a sober summer is far better than one that turns out to be regrettable later on.
Be Prepared for Triggers
The first thing to remember during vacations is that there will be a measure of travel involved, and when people travel, there is bound to be a problem at one point or another. Some people take this kind of trouble in stride, while others get triggered by it. For someone who just got out of rehab, getting triggered is not exactly a good thing.
This is why there is a need to be prepared for these triggers so that whatever reaction a person might have to the trigger, it does not involve getting so worked up that alcohol or drugs is needed later on. It is worth remembering that many things can and will happen during trips and vacations because others are also involved, and different people have different ways of thinking, doing things, and reacting to situations.
Just be mindful of what affects you and your well-being, let go of feelings and thoughts that will just leave you upset for a long time, and do what you can to take in the good things you experience during the trip and the vacation itself, instead of focusing on what triggers you encounter.
Have A Backup
Contingency planning is not everyone’s strong suit. For someone who just came from rehab, however, it could be a survival skill. Unexpected things could and will happen during the holidays. It could happen even before anyone leaves the house. This is why it is important to double-check everything, then triple-check, and check again for good measure.
For someone trying to stay away from substances, this is quite important for this simple reason: you typically have your essential medications with you, and you need this in case your chronic pain kicks in again during the vacation. The medications you have right now because you had just completed rehab, are those that you are safe from developing an addiction to.
Having medications that will not trigger is already a backup plan. In the event, however, that you do run into a spot of trouble and you need more of the medication you’re taking, and you run out of it, this is where the backup to the backup should come into play. If you happen to have the misfortune of running out of your medication, and you need it badly, and someone else has something close to it, do not make the mistake of accepting it because it could become the gateway to relapse.
Be sure you have more than enough of your medication should you need it, and do not substitute anything for it, because you never know if it fuels whatever urges you might get to start the habit again.
It’s A Vacation, Enjoy It, Don’t Stress Over It
Things don’t always go to plan, and there could be instances that will try your patience. These instances, when put together, could push anyone who stresses easily over their tipping point, and this is where many give in to the urge to drink alcohol, or even take substances to “take the edge off”.
A better idea, however, is to simply take things as they happen. Provided that the unpleasantness that happens during the vacation is not something that leads to bankruptcy, or becomes life-threatening at some point, there is no reason to continue to stress over it.
If there is something that could be done to fix the issue, give it a try, and if that fails as well, there is only so much you could do. The purpose of a vacation is to unwind, relax, escape from the mundane everyday repetition, and let go of all the stress pent up inside.
Live In the Moment
People who tend to not enjoy trips and vacations are typically those who do not enjoy not being in control. When something goes wrong, and something will always go wrong with trips and vacations, these people will start to not enjoy their vacation, and for many, things just start to go downhill from there. While it is immensely good to plan for things, it is also important to remember that life is what happens when you’re making plans.
This means that even if there were a hundred items in the tips for staying sober list that you subscribe to, there could still be something unexpected along the way. It could either ruin the entire vacation for you, or you could just chalk it up to experience, breathe it out, and carry on. To learn more about our treatment visit our website!