Sober Spring Break: How to Keep Yourself From Relapsing

This article was written by James Malervy and published by RCA.


Spring break has long been a time of celebration and fun for college students. It’s a time to ditch the books and head off for a much-needed break. Many flock to famous spring break destinations like Miami Beach, Cabo, San Lucas, Jamaica, Bahamas, Punta Cana, etc., to have a good time and capture those perfect shots for social media. Others opt for road trips, house parties, sports tournaments, etc.

And it’s not just about the parties and fun. Spring break also means free time for those who don’t want to go on vacations or parties. For this group of people, spring break is a time to sit around the house, perhaps watch a movie, or sleep.

But all these options present a challenge for those in recovery. The parties and free time can both trigger cravings and make one more likely to reach for that bottle or baggie. With the relapse risk being so high, it’s important to think carefully about how to approach spring break in a way that won’t jeopardize your recovery.

Here are some tips and ideas for staying sober during spring break.

Make Plans Ahead of Time

Planning helps you to anticipate and prepare for potential challenges and triggers. It involves setting specific and achievable goals for your spring break and developing strategies to manage any challenges that may arise. Ideally, your plan should factor in the following:

  • Where you’ll go, what activities you will do, and who you will hang out with, find friends and family members who don’t drink or use drugs if possible. If that’s not an option, at least hang out with people who are comfortable with you being sober.
  • Activities that do not involve drugs and alcohol. So, instead of a wild and crazy night out, try something more active like beach volleyball or go-cart racing. You can also explore new experiences and hobbies that could benefit your mental health and wellness.
  • How you’ll deal with cravings. Cravings are normal in recovery, but you need to plan to keep your mind off of drinking and using drugs. Make sure to list activities you can do if cravings strike, such as calling a friend, writing in a journal, or listening to music.
  • Strategies on how to handle stressful situations in a healthy and productive way
  • Self-care techniques can help reduce stress, improve overall well-being, and promote healthy coping mechanisms. Self-care can reduce the risk of relapse and support long-term sobriety.
  • Emergency plan for when things get out of hand. An emergency plan can include leaving a situation that triggers cravings or puts pressure on you to drink or use drugs.

When you have a plan in place, you feel more in control and are less likely to be overwhelmed by the situation. You also structure your time and prioritize the important things to you, reducing the chances of making impulsive decisions that may lead to a relapse. A plan makes you more likely to stay focused on your goal of staying sober and less likely to be distracted by temptations or distractions.

Choose Sober Alternatives to Your Typical Spring Break

Sobriety doesn’t have to be boring. But at the same time, you don’t want to pick a destination or activity that will trigger use. Destinations like Miami Beach, Cancun, and the Bahamas are widely sought after, but they might not be ideal for you because of their party culture.

So, instead, you might want to consider alternatives like Panama City Beach, which are equally fun, but “trigger-friendly.” We say friendly because the Panama City Beach community has some policies that curtail drinking during March. You can also opt for alcohol-free activities like scuba diving, mountain climbing, adventure trips, and wellness retreats.

The goal is to minimize exposure to triggers like people, environments, things, or activities that may trigger cravings.

Surround Yourself with Supportive People

It’s equally important to surround yourself with supportive people during this time. Instead of traveling or staying alone, you want to tag in friends or family who are happy to talk and listen to you and even offer advice. Supportive friends can also help keep you accountable, provide a positive and healthy environment, and offer a distraction from any negative thoughts or temptations.

If you do not have supportive friends or family members nearby, consider reaching out to a support group, therapist, or sponsor for help. You can also contact your addiction treatment center for guidance. A strong support system can be a key factor in maintaining sobriety and staying on track with your recovery goals.

Practice Self-Care and Stay Mindful

Spring break is a time to let loose. But the pressure to interact, avoid triggers, find suitable activities, etc., can lead to anxiety, stress, and other negative emotions. Dealing with these emotions can be tough, and unless you have a self-care plan, you may end up self-medicating with drugs or alcohol.

Studies have shown that mental health and substance use disorders often co-occur, with one leading to the other. So it’s always a good idea to have a self-care plan beforehand. Your self-care plan can include relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing exercises, yoga, journaling, or mindfulness meditation, as these have been shown to help manage stress and reduce anxiety.

Engaging in these activities can help you feel more relaxed and centered and provide a healthy outlet for dealing with negative emotions or stressful situations. When you practice self-care and mindfulness, you’re unlikely to turn to substances to cope with or numb negative emotions, stress, etc.

Staying sober during spring break is not easy. However, you can still experience all the fun. There are plenty of alternative activities that don’t involve drinking on the beach and are more fun. So, take your time to find what interests you, invite your sober friends, and enjoy your spring break.

If you need help or support for sobriety, call Recovery Centers of America today. Our team understands how hard it is to do this alone, so we have programs lined up to help. From AA meetings to alumni recognition to counseling, there’s always something to help you stay the course. And with treatment centers across multiple locations in the country, you’ll never be alone.

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