The words “spring break” probably stir up several images in your head: bikinis, sun, sand, and, you can’t forget– sex, drugs, and alcohol. Binge drinking and drugging has been associated with spring break since spring break became spring break. It has, and always will be, the main focus of the week in March that most colleges designate for their break.
I’ll tell you what is NOT associated with spring break: sobriety. Ok, so that is established. Spring break and sobriety don’t really mix– or do they? Who says spring break has to be centered around getting blackout drunk and having one-night stands? I have two years of sober/clean time, and you wouldn’t catch me dead going on a spring break trip. That could be because I’m 26 and they don’t make a spring break for our age group.
If I were presented with the option of going to Panama City Beach or Cancun during spring break, I would probably decline. I know my boundaries. I’m not saying I absolutely could not stay sober if I were on a spring break trip in Panama City, but I just don’t want to put myself through that. It’s added stress I don’t want to place on myself and my sobriety.
With that said, I’ve never really put any thought into alternative spring break plans. In true addict form, for me, it has always been the one kind of spring break, or none at all. And, that simply is not the truth! There are a variety of different ways to have a fun and rewarding spring break.
No, your sober spring break is not going to be the same as your using spring break. You can kiss that goodbye. But, would you even want it to be? I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to go back to any day that I was using, spring break, Christmas, it doesn’t matter.
A lot of my sober time and energy has been devoted to reinventing and rebirthing myself. I have to get creative with a lot of things in my life– not just my spring break plans. I’ve had to get pretty creative with my problem-solving and coping skills. Like they say in the rooms, you have to “change everything.”
So this may not be the typical spring break beach trip, but spending your spring break volunteering is highly-enriching for the spirit. Our program suggests that we engage in service activities. Even if you are volunteering with a project that is totally un-program related, it can still be helpful to your sobriety.
Anything that helps to remove you from the bondage of self-centeredness is helpful to your sobriety. And, it makes for a very economical spring break because you don’t have to go anywhere special to volunteer. Every town and city has local volunteer opportunities.
Help someone else on your spring break and get out of yourself. If you are feeling self-pity because you can’t have a “normal” spring break, volunteering at your soup kitchen or doing H&I will help you get out of that stinkin’thinkin’ pattern. And, obviously, if you would actually like to go on a vacation, there are plenty of opportunities to volunteer in the country and outside of the country, like Haiti, for example.
Connect With the Outdoors
Replacing unhealthy habits and addictions with natural or “safe” highs is a very viable spring break option. There are so many things you can do outdoors that can really make you feel alive, and you won’t be missing a spring break trip to Cancun. And, the best thing about this kind of spring break is that you can remember everything that you got to see and do. Very cool.
If you do decide to go to a popular spring break spot, try to keep yourself busy. Laying on the beach watching everyone else do funnels and body shots is not going to make sobriety any easier. Trust me.So, change it up a little.
Rent a jet-ski, kayak, go white water rafting, climbing, hiking, parasailing, sky diving, hang gliding– whatever suits your fancy. There are so many options to choose from, the list of outdoor activities is endless. And, if you go out of town, make sure to stay engaged in the program by going to meetings where you are vacationing and talking to people in your support network.
Go Somewhere or Do Something on Your Bucket List
When in active addiction, the world of the user shrinks to a very small, teeny bubble. Sobriety gives us freedom to do things we could have never dreamt of doing when using. It opens the world up.
Not only did I rarely go anywhere, I didn’t even consider all the things that I wanted to do or see. Traveling was just not very high up on the priority list. Instead of using your spring break as a space holder in time, do something that will stick with you forever, something you can tell your children about.
Don’t know where to start? Perfect. That’s what I’m here for! Start with the seven wonders of the world! Actually, there are several opinions on what the seven wonders of the world are, so I will give you more to choose from.
- Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa
- Great Wall of China
- Porcelain Tower of Nanjing
- Hagia Sophia
- Leaning Tower of Pisa
- Grand Canyon
- Mt. Rushmore
- Great Pyramids of Giza
- Hanging Gardens of Babylon
- Statue of Zeus at Olympia
- Golden Gate Bridge
So, there you have it. If you’re still stuck on getting drunk and high on spring break, I suggest you talk it over with your sponsor– if you don’t have one, get one!– or a friend, or counselor. You wouldn’t be the first person to struggle with this. Make sure you talk to others about it, and if you decide to go on a traditional spring break trip, make sure everyone in your party is aware that you do not drink or do drugs. Have a safe and fun spring break!