Category Archives: Self-Help

Vacation Hacks for Staying Sober

Vacation is a great way to get away from the stresses of life, spend time with people you care about, and have fun. But if you’re in recovery, vacation isn’t as simple as getting away for a while. Everything you do need to help support your sobriety, including vacation. Just because you’re in recovery doesn’t mean you can’t go on vacation. But if you’re thinking about taking some time away, it’s important to stay sober the whole time. Understanding why you should stay sober for life, including on vacation, and using some tips to help support your sobriety can make the difference between a great vacation and a relapse.

The importance of sobriety on vacation

When you’re in recovery, establishing routines in your daily life can make it easier to maintain your sobriety. You know what to expect each day, and your habits throughout the day help promote your sobriety. But when you go on vacation, your routines are disrupted. That can make it harder to resist temptations, especially if you’re in an environment where your will power is being challenged. But it’s just as important to stay sober on vacation as it is in your regular daily life. If you slip up, you run the risk of turning back to the life you had before and undoing all the work you did to get sober.

How to stay sober on vacation

Vacation should be a part of normal life. But when you’re working to stay sober, vacation can be a trigger for falling back into past behaviors. Here are some things you can do to help yourself stay sober when you’re on vacation.

Make sure you can handle the vacation

The timing of your vacation is a big consideration. Recovery is a process. The longer you’re sober, the easier it may be to go on vacation and use your willpower to avoid temptation. If you’re still early in your recovery, going on vacation may not be a good idea. Instead, it would be better to stick with your normal daily routine so you can reduce the risk of relapsing.

Communicate with your travel buddies

It’s also important to have open communication with the people you’ll be traveling with. They should know that you’re working on staying sober for life, and that a relapse could cause major problems in your life and recovery. Being open and honest with your travel buddies can help make sure that the vacation will be enjoyable for everyone and you’ll have the support you need to stay sober while you’re away from home. If your travel buddies can’t support your sobriety on vacation, it might not be the best idea to go.

Plan your itinerary around your needs

Staying sober means that you make decisions for your life based on your sobriety needs. The lifestyle you develop in recovery can be maintained while you’re on vacation. But that means that the itinerary for your vacation needs to be built around your needs for sobriety. If you need down time every day, make sure you get it. If you need time to exercise or have diet restrictions, make sure that your vacation can accommodate those needs. You want to have fun while you’re on vacation, but you still have basic needs that have to be met. If your vacation can’t meet your basic sobriety needs, it’s not a vacation for you.

Suggest activities that work for you

When you and your travel buddies are planning activities for the vacation, be sure to suggest activities that work for you. The people you’re traveling with may want to be supportive, but they may not know what that looks like on vacation. By suggesting activities you can do, it’s more likely that your vacation itinerary will be fun for you as well as for the people you’re traveling with. This is especially important if you’ve developed new interests and hobbies since getting sober. If your travel buddies are set on certain activities and those activities don’t support your sobriety, that may mean that you should reconsider going on vacation with those people.

Research destinations carefully

Some vacation destinations are better than others. Some vacation locations are built around drinking, for example. So if you’re working on sobriety, that wouldn’t be a good place for you to visit. As you’re planning your vacation, be sure to do research into what’s available in the area, what the big attractions are, and what you want to do while you’re away from home. For example, you might want to look for a destination that’s more “family-friendly.” Those locations tend to have activities that are good for people of all ages, which means there would be things to do that don’t involve substances or activities that might be triggering for you.

Don’t be afraid to use your ‘no’ muscle

Ultimately, whether or not you can and should go on vacation is up to you. If there are any red flags about the trip, or you think it’s too soon for you to disrupt your regular daily routines, don’t be afraid to use your ‘no’ muscle and say no to the vacation. Your travel buddies may be disappointed, but they want you to be healthy, happy, and sober. They’ll understand if it’s just not a good idea for you to go on vacation with them at that time. Your sobriety is the most important thing, so every decision you make should be for that goal.

Your sobriety is important. That doesn’t mean you can’t go on vacation with people, but if you’re going to, then you have to make sure that your vacation is going to support your sobriety. From communication to planning to being willing to say no, your vacation can be a way to get away from the stresses of life without relapsing. Use these tips as you prepare for your vacation, and then you can be sure that you’ll come home with great memories and that you’ll still be sober for life!

Sober Living During the Holidays

For all the reasons that the holidays are great – family, friends, food, and general good cheer in most cases – they can prove to be particularly trying times for someone who is struggling with addiction recovery. The nature of holiday festivities can create huge challenges for those struggling with eating disorders, alcohol addiction, and drug addiction.

Luckily, there are countless ways to make the holidays a little bit easier. As told in a press release by PRNewswire.com, one organization in particular is offering a quick tip sheet for those struggling with various addictions during the holiday season. We thought this would be a good time to share such beneficial advice.

Below are the tips to avoiding relapse during the holidays, as suggested by the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists.

Weigh your options. You don’t have to attend every social gathering of the season. If the event is something that you aren’t required to attend, and you don’t feel strong enough to manage it, it might be best to decline. Sticking to stress-free events this holiday season is the best way to avoid relapse.

Plan ahead. Before you go to an event, think about the situations you might face. How will you respond when offered a drink or dessert? Prepare yourself with a few responses to help you kindly refuse the tempting offer.

Engage your support system. Bring a friend or your sponsor along who can help you stay on track. If you can’t bring a friend, reach out to your sponsor and think about attending a support group meeting before and after the event.

Take a break. The Holidays are stressful and good stress management is essential for avoiding relapse. Fighting off the temptations of the holiday season can be exhausting. There are many things you can do to help clear your mind, such as deep breathing, taking a walk and getting plenty of rest.

Remember that you have a disease called addiction. It can be easy to tell yourself “it’s just one drink” if you are not prepared to say “no.” Remember: just one bite, drink or hit can lead to severe relapse. Once you take the first drink, that drink is in control–not you. Remember the saying “one is too many and 1,000 is never enough.”

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving, ya’ll!

 

Best of 2011 Awards

We are proud to announce that we are honoring the Best of 2011 in the Sobriety Industry.

We’ve spent hours reviewing and curating the list of the best sites out there in the sober community. This our way of spreading the word and increasing awareness because in the end, we’re all in this together.

We are openly taking submissions for new award winners. We’ve already announced several winners and will be providing more details on each winner in blog posts to come!

For when life is good, but you still feel bad

This guest post was provided by Toby LeBlanc, LPC.


When I look over my career working as a therapist for individuals with substance dependence, I notice patterns. If someone can maintain the motivation and strength to move through the first few months of recovery, I notice they reach a place of happiness and serenity. Sometimes I even see joy. Their brain has finally started healing from the drugs and alcohol which altered it. It has learned how to produce dopamine on its own, without drugs. It can tolerate some of the most uncomfortable emotions.  Every day provides new opportunities for growth. And each time they grow, they get even happier. It sometimes feels like I’m watching one of my nieces open presents during the holidays, except it’s happening every day.

The big day comes. They leave their treatment center or sober living house and head out on their own. That part always feels like a graduation for me. Parents are proud and supportive. The recovering addict is incredibly optimistic yet humble. Everyone is incredibly appreciative and excited. Life looks like a dream come true. The recovering addict will get their own apartment with their own space (a welcome break of having to share space with people they barely know and don’t always like) and then eventually get a job. At this point they have made a full circle and have returned to being a contributing member of society.

This is where I see trouble brewing. Life has stopped moving forward in leaps in bounds. The growth moments are coming fewer and farther between. Without the constant support and insight around them, sometimes they even miss the growth moments. Despite the fact life has become healthy, it’s become a little boring. Work, meetings, and back home to do it all over again. The weekends are spent sleeping, watching movies, and hanging out with sober friends. I can see the questions before the person even asks them: Is this it? Is this what the rest of my life is going to be like?

Some view this as a slump. Others see it as a plateau. Regardless of how you see it, it is as a crucial a time in recovery as the day the recovering addict decided to get help. It’s hard to imagine having this stale life day in and day out for the rest of your life especially after having such a crazy and unpredictable time while using. But be careful when thinking you know what the rest of your life will be like. You can’t see it yet. It has many twists and turns for you. Your next growth moment could be just around the corner. This is an essential time to practice something discussed in an earlier blog: patience. Even thought it doesn’t feel as big as it did in the beginning of recovery, this is actually a new place for your brain to grow. Let it. You may find the next big step in life was just waiting for you to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

To close this, I want to point something out. Due to the complicated nature of trauma’s effects, some trauma survivors may have more difficulty with this than, say, someone who has only experienced addiction without trauma. If you have a history of trauma, and you find yourself in this stuck point, I encourage you to seek out a little extra help from someone in the mental health field or a sponsor who has survived trauma themselves. This is to say, of course, I think everyone deserves some help in a tough time like this.

Reputation

This guest post was provided by Toby LeBlanc, LPC.

reputation

Reputation.  Good or bad, we all have one. It precedes us when we get introduced. It follows us when we run from it. It can get us in the door, or have the door slammed in our face. It takes years to build while it takes only moments to destroy.  It filters everything you say and do to produce an impression. In other words, your reputation can be bigger than you. Now, think about your reputation. What is it saying about you? Is it what you want it to say?

For many people in recovery getting a reputation where you want it to be seems like an insurmountable task. So many things are done during drug and alcohol use which undermine the importance of all the good changes being made in recovery. However, only 3 things are needed to build a reputation back up to something positive:

Consistency: Because many addicts made the wrong choices numerous times, making the right choices numerous times is the only thing which can counteract it. Be prepared to make mistakes and have your rep backslide a bit. Don’t let it stop you from trying to do the right thing everything time and in every situation. Then do it again, and again, and again, and again…

Time: This is actually a prerequisite for consistency. You can’t do the right thing over and over again without time passing. If you feel you have been doing this, and still don’t have the reputation you’re looking for, it means you haven’t done it for long enough. Don’t fall into the trap of comparing your time to someone else’s. Everyone’s reputation timeline is different.

Faith: If you are in a twelve step program you found this in The First Step. If you aren’t, you can find it in yourself. If you are working on your reputation it means you have an idea of what you want it to look like. Hold on tightly to that. Don’t let anything negative steer you from it. Faith means you will one day become the positive reputation in mind even if nothing in your immediate world tells you it will happen.

All 3 of these are incredibly difficult for someone in early recovery because of their lessened ability to deal with delayed gratification and low tolerance of negative emotion. So caregivers please keep something in mind: your addicted friend/family member/client/sponsee is changing every day. While you sit on the outside looking in, they are working to change from the inside out. Many times you cannot see it. Because of this it’s important to listen to them talk about how much they’ve changed, even if it feels small to you. It is the language of growth. Sit with them in it. It is also important to ask questions. Vocalizing internal change makes the process easier to see and move more smoothly. It also creates a bond between you and the person recovering. That’s the perfect environment for a reputation to change in.