With the rising opioid epidemic in the US, it’s no surprise that vacation and substance abuse go hand in hand. Although there is no single cause of addiction, there are several factors associated with substance misuse, including vacationing. People who are trying to regulate their impulse control problems often leave home to escape from everyday stressors, and this could lead to substance abuse.
The idea of taking a vacation to escape from stressful and unhealthy habits is not new, but the link between substance-related problems and vacation has often been overlooked. The increased availability of vacation destinations, drug paraphernalia, and illicit substances has created a unique context that increases the risk of substance abuse. Those who travel to vacation destinations can easier access drug use while on vacation and create a problem in their home lives if not managed effectively.
The links between vacation and substance abuse are multifaceted and complex. Vacationers often pack their own personal supply of drugs, regardless of any laws or regulations governing their transport. Because they lack the surveillance that they have in their own homes, vacationers are more likely to access drugs recreationally. This can lead to the development of substance use disorders and a cycle of dependence.
Further, vacationers tend to experiment with new drugs, activities, and people that they would not normally encounter while at home. This can result in dangerous and risky behaviors that the vacationer may not otherwise consider, such as trying drugs that they otherwise wouldn’t have access to or engaging in activities involving illicit substances. Vacationers can also develop recreational habits that come back home with them and interfere with their ability to maintain sobriety.
It’s important to note that not all vacationers engage in substance abuse. Some take vacations to relax and escape from substance use or other negative behaviors. For example, some retreats are designed to encourage abstinent lifestyles through therapeutic activities and continuing education. Such vacations can support addiction recovery and help a person develop healthy habits.
Vacations can create the opportunity for more productive and enjoyable activities to replace substance abuse. Vacationers can focus their time on healthy activities, such as outdoor recreation or sightseeing. These activities can help break the habit of self-medicating and provide exposure to enjoyable activities that don’t involve drug use.
Vacations can also provide the space to reconnect with a person’s natural recovery network, such as friends, family, and particular locations with special meaning. Re-establishing these connections can provide a source of relief, support, and guidance that can then be taken back home.
Although substance abuse and vacation are often intertwined, it doesn’t have to be that way. Recognizing the risks associated with vacationing and planning ahead with healthier alternatives can create a meaningful and enjoyable experience while avoiding the triggers of relapse. Vacationers can ensure a successful trip by creating sober activities and engaging with a supportive network of friends and family.