I love travelling and have been fortunate to spend time in a number of States in the USA. When you’re on the road, you meet people from so many different walks of life, especially if you’re curious about getting to know other people like me! And one of the things that have struck me most on my travels is the indiscriminate way in which substance addiction, of all things, strikes the lives of individuals from every background, race and profession. Relapse while travelling can be an awful thing to deal with.
How do I know? Because I’ve seen it firsthand. And if I haven’t seen it, I’ve heard it, in stories sometimes told by random strangers who became my best friend for an hour, or an evening, en route to my next destination.
I include alcohol in this because it’s the addiction I’ve been most exposed to, in my own family, among co-workers and friends. And there, but for the grace of God, could have gone I, as they say.
If you are in recovery, travelling – when your usual support network is not around you and you are free of routine – is perhaps when you’re at your most vulnerable to relapse. Here are a few things you can do to help.
Avoid risky situations
For a recovering addict, it’s always important to try to avoid triggers, i.e. certain experiences that can start thought patterns and events that can lead down the path to relapse. Every recovering addict knows the risky situations they need to steer clear of. That could mean hanging around the wrong people or places, such as bars, or nightclubs, for example.
It’s definitely not easy to avoid places where alcohol, for instance, is abundant, when you’re on the road. It’s natural to head to a local bar when the sun goes down, isn’t it? But the local cinema or a late night cafe can be just as rewarding an evening experience.
Prioritise eating and sleeping well
Healthy eating and good sleep are essential, especially to a recovering addict. Sleep deprivation decreases cognitive function, causes negative mood and this can make relapse more likely. And if you’re moving from place to place, it’s harder to prioritise a good diet and a good sleep routine.
So make sure you plan your budget so that staying in places you’ve researched and where you know you’re likely to get a comfortable night’s rest becomes easier. Plan where you’re going to eat and enjoy the simpler things in life, like good food and good rest.
Check out your local resources
Wherever you are and whatever the situation, whether you need to find an AA meeting in Florida or you need to get some addiction treatment in Washington, help is always out there. You don’t need to be at home to find people who care if you relapse while travelling.
Confucius said, “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” And this doesn’t just apply to substance addiction, but to life itself.