In the first year of my husband’s sobriety, he wanted to go back to our honeymoon spot in Maui. I was excited, yet also hesitant, because I wasn’t sure how it was going to go having him not be able to engage in our usual sunset Mai Tais.

Our family took a leap of faith and hopped on a plane to Maui. Low and behold, what I feared would happen, happened.

The First Year of Sobriety Can Be Nerve-Wracking for Everyone

The moment we arrived at the resort, my husband just barely six months into his sobriety, began spinning out of control. He got angry and irritable immediately. His craving for a drink was unbearable. 

The children and I didn’t know what to do. Dinner was ruined. He stormed off on a path and was gone for a few hours. The children and I just sat at the table, frozen.

After Years of Trial & Error, We Learned How to Flip the Script

Fast forward after almost eight years of his sobriety, as individuals, as a couple, and as a family, we have figured out by tripping and falling, failing and trying again, how to have successful family vacations even when the urge for a drink appears. 

We have learned how to flip the script when it becomes about him. We give ourselves permission to take our power back and focus on thriving while giving the disease a back seat.

Each vacation is not perfect (what family vacation ever is), but we have learned some tips and tricks in order to navigate the disease of alcoholism along with us for the ride.

Here are 5 Simple Tips to Have a Successful Summer Vacation with Your Addict or Alcoholic

  • When your addict or alcoholic starts spinning in chaos, walk away. If your addict or alcoholic begins to create unnecessary chaos, you can choose to walk away to keep the focus on this time you’ve earned to have fun.
  • If your addict or alcoholic continues to place themselves first, remember it’s your job to make yourself #1 in your life. My recovering alcoholic continues to remind me he is taught to put himself first in order to stay sober. That aside, you must continue to prioritize yourself so as not to be second or third in your own life, especially on a limited time vacation that you will never get back.
  • Choose a vacation that focuses on getting out in nature with active engagement and activities. During the first few years of my husband’s sobriety, we escaped to mountain areas and lakes such as Yosemite, Utah, Mammoth, and New Hampshire. We were so active and busy he didn’t have time to think about drinking.
  • Remember the power of the sun. Even if just for a little bit, that dose of Vitamin D can boost your spirits and mood almost instantly. Let Mother Nature do her thing.
  • Spend some time by the water. Being by the water can reduce stress, improve positive brain health, and help ward off depression and anxiety. It encourages meditation, mindfulness, and self-reflection, which are things we can all use on a break from work and everyday life. It jump starts us to immediate relaxation.

And one bonus, yet very important one:

  • Do what you want and follow through. If your alcoholic or addict does not want to join you on your plans, still go. You had a plan in place for a purpose. Whether it was for a hike or day at the beach, still go. There is a reason you wanted to do this, so follow through so you have no regrets.

Integrating at least one or two of these tips can help elevate the success of your family vacations. We’ve learned through trial and error, and never giving up, that you can change a storm of chaos into imperfect happiness. 

Happy Summer Everyone!