Going away sober may feel intimidating at first. Spending a long time away from the routine a person has built can be refreshing, revitalizing, and necessary just to break away from the stress of life. However, everyone needs a break and spring break is a great time to getaway. No matter where a person lives, whether the weather is warm or cold, getting away somewhere new makes people feel like they can come back with a new perspective on recovery. Being triggered by others’ alcohol or drug use should be something any person planning sober vacation plans to be sure they have a way to cope with the challenges if and when they arise.
Know What to Expect
When a person has realistic expectations in recovery, they can avoid frustration and disappointment. They should have reasonable expectations for recovery. It helps to know what is going to happen and how. If expectations are too high, a person might judge themselves too harshly. In reality, there may be confusion and difficulty. If a person holds expectations too low, it can be hard to do the right things to get back on track in recovery. Set aside some time to outline expectations. Know what needs to be done and how to manage it the best way possible to have fun but be safe (and sober).
An aftercare plan follows a student anywhere they go, even on spring break. Spring break is not a break from life altogether, it is a chance to breathe easier. If a person knows their aftercare plan is going to be hard to follow on spring break, it might be a good idea to check in with people who helped put it together. They will hold the student accountable so they don’t completely lose focus while they are away. Even if they manage their triggers well, and return home sober, it can be disarming to realize it was so easy to be triggered or tripped up away from the reality of a structured lifestyle. For some people, it takes a long time before they are able to go away and not be as rattled by what they experience on vacation. It might mean tweaking where a student takes their breaks next time. All told, it is important to have trusted advisors to help maintain a good plan of action.
Find Sober Spots
Recovery is not just a time to enjoy spring break. Drinking is common in many places on spring break, as that is how students often equate time away from school. This is not to say every student is doing this. There are meaningful places and spaces to get away that don’t include drinking. When a person refrains from drinking alcohol, there should be no worry about losing control, feeling sick, or anything else a person feels when they drink too much. Some tips to try and plan a sober space to getaway:
- Look into sober vacation homes
- Invite friends and family who are sober to come with
- Go on a nature-based retreat away from other people in a camping or hiking environment
- Look at 12-step retreats: check out sober retreats that are available. They will help student travel somewhere new and exciting while staying connected to the 12-steps
- Creative classes: look at some classes on writing, cooking, crafting, crocheting, and playing musical instruments. Look into this for info on workshops and classes over spring break
Review Portrait of Fun
One of the hardest things to do in recovery is reframing experiences. College students may find it harder as they live in a sort of incubator with all the other students. They go to the same classes, attend some events, and maybe even do group work together. It is difficult to get away from some of the people who were part of that life in addiction. Fun times are not always about parties, drinking, going out with girls or guys, and doing all of the things a person used to do. Look for other ways to have fun and start learning to enjoy those spaces, rather than dwell on what is missing.
One of the unique ways to engage with spring break this year could be voluntourism. This might be a local activity or one that people do away from school. Look into opportunities like volunteering over spring break somewhere (that stays sober) and continue exploring opportunities that present themselves in this way. Some great ways to do this:
- Donate time to work with animals/nature
- Serve less fortunate people
- Travel with a college group that volunteers over spring break (or local community group)
- Volunteer to do green projects that get out into nature like parks
- Ask around for friends or others who are volunteering what would be fun and interesting
However a student chooses to spend their spring break, they should know that they are not alone in the struggle to find places to go that are fun but sober. Finding sober spaces is a good challenge for when graduation occurs and students are out in the working world and have to find sober places to stay away from drugs and alcohol.
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction and mental illness, now is the time to reach out for help. Burning Tree West works with college students to help them stay in school and stay sober. Our goal is to help you develop confidence and skills for the next journey after rehab. For more information, call us now at 855-997-1376