Taking my first steps out of the rehab center I was staying at, and slowly walking back into the world outside of its confinements gave me pure fear. Embarking on my new journey into the relatively unknown was an apprehensive one. As a recently recovered addict, these emotions felt more extreme than what they would to someone else.
Someone once told me that travel broadens the mind and that I could be back in control of my life again. I could decide my next destination, next place to visit, new people to meet, friends to make and the sights to see. I began to realize that there was no high in the world greater than boarding a plane, a train or a car and looking forward my next destination.
Here are 4 amazing ways that traveling helped me during my addiction and still today being 9 years sober!
I formed a new addiction
For so many years I had been abusing alcohol and I was always looking for my next big fix rather than focusing on achieving or fulfilling my personal dreams. Once I left rehab, I needed to find something else that would positively give me that rush of adrenaline like it did before.
The first trip that I took after I had successfully been clean for over 2 years made me feel like I was literally stepping into the unknown. It was frightening, but with the support of my family and friends and the lessons I learned, I felt like I was ready to take that step.
Once I began to travel and began to explore how healthy, educational, enlightening and ultimately, personally fulfilling it was; I soon realized that I was now getting edgy because I just wanted to book that next plane ticket.
In order to achieve that goal, I had to have a good job and work hard so I could keep on traveling. All of this became my new focal point in life and allowed me to have something to look forward to, plus it gave me purpose.
That upcoming trip to Hawaii in 6 months helped me to drag myself out of bed every morning and go to work. When I was in Hawaii, I felt like I really achieved something great and it felt extremely rewarding because I had done it all by myself.
I became open minded
Before I entered rehab I was in a really bad state of mind. It truly came down to the way I was thinking about myself. I was negative and hated myself, therefore everything around me I hated too. I was always looking for the next person to blame even if they had nothing to do with the problem I caused myself.
Any new idea just seemed totally unthinkable and I would block it out immediately. During my recovery process, I was told to look into myself, to self-reflect and practice honesty. I began to meditate and slowly began to view things in a different way.
When I began to travel, no matter how far away I was from where I lived or wherever I was in the world I seemed more content than I had ever been before because I felt like I was at home anyway. I didn’t have any friends who wanted to visit the same places I wanted to visit. I had the choice of waiting around for them and never knowing if it will ever happen, or I had to take a leap of faith and travel alone.
Each place I visited humbly reminded me that we aren’t so different after all, and let me have a whole new perspective on how I see things and how I saw myself. I began to feel grateful and inspired when I talked to the people I met during my travels who had a harder life than I did, but who still managed to be happy and joyful even though they didn’t have that brand new iPhone or a luxurious house.
I learned about how kind spirited and caring I really was deep down inside. All these different experiences made me see the world, my family and myself in a different light.
I learned to manage my recovery better than I would back at home
The majority of my alcohol and substance abuse problems were caused by a lack of direction and boredom. I didn’t know what I wanted to do career-wise and instead, I blew all my energy on partying which led me down a dangerous path and eventually I found myself waking up in rehab.
For me, one of the biggest risks of relapsing would be to stay at home all day too scared to venture into the world outside of my 4 bedroom walls. This would eventually have driven me insane and then I would have relapsed out of the stress and boredom. Being at home and knowing I was going away again gave me focus, direction, and hope towards the future
After I started to travel alone, I was put into situations that definitely tempted me enough to consider relapsing. If I were walking down one of the beaches in Thailand and someone offered a cocktail in a coconut, although tempting, I would focus on my determination to say no and I would instead go for a swim in the ocean to calm me down and take my mind off it.
If someone offered me a cocktail back home and I was still unemployed I probably would have taken it. The activities that I could do instead while I was traveling were enough incentive to make me say no. I began hiking on my travels which is now something I thoroughly love even when I am back home in the States, by the end of the day walking up all those high hills, I’m too tired to think about drinking anyways.
My passport is a symbol of my successful recovery
Whenever I go somewhere, I always insist on the immigration officials giving me my stamp! My passport does not have any stamps of when I was in rehab or at the lowest points of my life. It only has stamps of all the amazing experiences I have had afterward. It is a symbol of how I turned my life upside down for the better.
That little book which by some means nothing, to me is a symbol of hope and gives me a warming sensation of gratitude every time I open it. Never underestimate the power of your mind and the determination that you can achieve once you leave drug and alcohol rehabilitation.
Recovery can be a lonely place for many people. By traveling, you can help to slowly remove that loneliness from your life. Recovery also merged me into leaving the facility being an open-minded person and finally, traveling was that final fix that opened my mind completely.
Being in recovery left me contemplating my old life, traveling helped me discover a new, more meaningful one. Everyone’s recovery is different and my journey is still happening. It gets hard but in time it takes you to where you need to go, for me, that meant hopping on the plane or packing my car and going on a road trip.
Have you traveled during your recovery process? Is there something you feel I missed? Leave a comment below and let us know. We’d love to hear it!