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Summer, Sun, Fun… and Recovery

Susanne Johnson
| July 19, 2017

Submitted by: Susanne Johnson

Almost everyone loves the summer. Vivid memories come up for me of beautiful beaches, warm oceans and total relaxation when I only hear the word “summer”. Every year when I was young, my parents took me to the French Riviera for a month. Once I got older, I started to explore other exotic destinations on my own, like Thailand, Venezuela, cruising weeks in the Caribbean, canoeing in Sweden, riding at the pyramids of Egypt, scuba diving in the Red Sea, visiting the Pope in the Vatican, walking the cliffs of Malta, volcano trips through Italy, fishing in Alaska and more. If you prefer to be active, or love the lazy beach life, the summer time is always something special. It is a reminder of adventures for me.

Now I’m in recovery from alcoholism and drug use. When I look back, all my activities in summer were paired with a high consumption of alcoholic beverages. It didn’t matter if it was the Ouzo in Greece, the Rum in Grenada, Raki in Turkey, Limoncello in Italy, wine in France… I was in the front row when alcohol was there. Venezuela did not feel the same without a cocktail, fishing always went hand-in-hand with a beer, and throughout the Caribbean, a bottle of rum was often cheaper than a bottle of water. I have had to change my perspective of vacation to minimize chances of relapse.

For me, it starts with the choice of the hotel. A place that has an “all-you-can-drink” arrangement included in the full price is not acceptable. It means that all across the pool, beach and restaurant area, there will be multiple bars and lines of people taking advantage of their wristband. This creates a high danger of relapse. I’m better off choosing a family-friendly hotel, which doesn’t lead to intoxication by the pool.

I also prefer today to be active instead of sedentary during my vacations. I want to make trips and see things. Sometimes that means renting a car or participating in organized bus trips, depending on the country. I don’t spend my time in a lounge chair. When I go fishing, I choose a rather small charter, that states in his guidelines that alcohol is prohibited on board. I stay away from locations that have excessive nightlife. Better to do a hike during the day and go to bed at a decent hour.

If you like to cruise, check out the offers on trips for land visits. Some have really nice and active offers, others just bus you to the next shopping district or a nearby beach. These days, I would even choose hiking in the rain forest at any time over a museum visit with a stopover at the local rum factory. If you feel like a rest day, most bigger hotels and cruise liners have several pools to choose from. It helps me to stay away from the main bar and bring my iced tea and my book. If you love the white sandy beaches of Florida, it’s a good idea to skip spring break season anyway; it is especially important for those of us that have no desire to get wasted.Being in recovery doesn’t mean that we have to miss out on summer, sun and fun. It only means that we have to be a little bit more mindful while planning our next adventure.

Speaking of adventure… try something new! Have you ever been river rafting? It’s a blast! It’s an activity that doesn’t allow for drinking. There are multiple locations inside the US and all over the world to go rafting. Or, perhaps you can skip a summer trip and find a winter trip instead this year. Skiing and snowboarding are both a lot of fun! There is no need to participate in the ski events. You can also go snow tubing, or ride a snow mobile.

Explore some of the wonderful national parks of the USA this summer, or take a drive down the beautiful Pacific Coastal Highway. I have beautiful memories to the stunning glaciers of Alaska in summer, or doing a Nile cruise into the world of the Pharaohs.

Have a beautiful summer! There is no need to miss out. So many places are calling your name. Don’t forget that meetings are available around the world.

Where have you gone for a sober vacation so far? Please join this conversation, I’m curious to hear what you have done. My life is not over; it has just begun.

We do recover,

Susanne Johnson


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