Seven Boundaries to Help with Recovery

People in recovery often come from environments or relationships where they struggled with boundaries. Lines were blurred, unhealthy, or even non-existent. These skewed boundaries are often a contributing factor to the development of substance abuse.

When your commitment to recovery is being threatened by people around you, it is important to move away from those toxic relationships. Setting new, manageable boundaries can help you on your path to recovery.

 

Boundaries to Help Maintain Sobriety

  1. Set Limits
    You have your own feelings and beliefs. You also have a right to your own limits. If you have been weighed down by your family or friend’s preferences and dysfunction, you may have turned to drugs or alcohol to cope. Throughout your recovery journey, you will learn how to reconnect with your own wants and needs. You will also learn to how stay true to them.
  2. Establish How You Want to Be Treated
    Once you know how you want to be treated, it is important for you to make that clear to others. For example, you may decide you don’t want to meet your friends when they are drinking socially, but you are willing to meet them in a neutral environment. It is okay for you to limit your meetings with people if you feel triggered when you’re out with them.
  3. Speak Up
    Your voice matters. If you feel like your boundaries have been violated, speak up. It is important for you to make it clear what your needs and limits are. It is okay to tell people when you don’t feel that your boundaries have been respected. The people who will help you live a sober life are the ones who will respect the lines and will not cross them.
  4. Trust Your Gut
    It doesn’t matter what you call your feelings. Whether it’s your gut, intuition, inner voice, or so on, the uncomfortable feelings you get around certain people or places are a sign that one of your boundaries is being crossed. Trust your instincts. When you’re sober, your mind and feelings are sharper than ever. Your body will give you signals when something isn’t right. Listen and trust yourself.
  5. Enforce Your Boundaries
    Event the people who respect your boundaries may test them from time to time. Whether intentionally or unwittingly, there must be consequences for crossing boundaries, especially for those who do so on purpose. Repeated violations of your sober rules may mean that you can no longer keep this person in your life. Certain relationships fracture when one person gets sober. Stay true to your recovery.
  6. Put Yourself First
    Setting boundaries means putting yourself first – and that’s a good thing! When you’re on the journey to recovery, it’s important to be focused on your needs. Self-care is usually something that is missing from a person’s life when they are abusing substances. Remember, self-care is not selfish.
  7. Keep Your Boundaries
    Other people may challenge the boundaries you set for yourself. However, flexibility is not an option when it comes to your limits. Stand firm behind the boundaries you have set for yourself. The boundaries you have set empower and guide you to a healthier life that is free from resentment and toxic behaviors. When you keep your boundaries, you are more present and have healthier relationships.

Telling People You’re in Recovery

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Recovery comes with a lot of uncharted territory, and it doesn’t matter if you’ve been sober for years or you’ve only just completed a program at a recovery center. While you may have new coping strategies nobody can fully prepare you for life outside of treatment.

For some people, sharing that you’re in recovery is a large, intimidating hurdle. It can be stressful and cause anxiety. To help with that, we’ll share some tips on when and how to tell people you are in recovery.

When to Tell Someone You’re in Recovery

Unfortunately, there may never be a perfect time to share that you’re in recovery, but that doesn’t mean you should hide it. How soon you decide to tell people about your recovery will depend on your relationship with them.

Ultimately, it is up to you when you share that you’re in recovery. However, if you start to build a close relationship with someone, it is important that you do eventually tell them. Telling someone that you are sober can be a huge weight off your shoulders. In most cases, the sooner you tell someone, the better you will feel. Once they are aware, most people will be supportive and can become another ally for your sobriety.

Knowing when to tell someone you are sober can be challenging, especially when it comes to dating. It may not be comfortable to bring up your recovery on the first date. However, once you start dating someone more seriously, you will need to tell them. If you are looking for a life partner, it’s better to know whether they are okay with it.

How to Tell Someone You Are in Recovery

Telling people that you’re in recovery can be intimidating, no matter how close you are with someone. You may be worried they will judge you or think differently of you. That’s why we will share some advice on how to tell someone that you’re in recovery. It may not be easy, but we hope this helps.

  • Do not worry about being judged. Not everyone is going to be as supportive as you would like them to be. However, the people who truly care about you will be supportive. People who are going to judge you for your sobriety are probably people you don’t want in your life.
  • Do not make it a big deal. People tend to react to things the way they are given the news. While it may seem like a big deal to you, try to relax. The bigger deal you make out of sharing your recovery, the more likely the person is going to be concerned and ask more questions. If you play it off, the person will likely respond in a similar fashion.
  • Keep it simple. Instead of working yourself up and preparing a long explanation, keep it short and simple. Saying “I’m in recovery” or “I’m sober” will often be enough. You can elaborate on your addiction and recovery another time if you feel comfortable doing so. Most people will often leave it at that, but some will ask questions. If you don’t feel like answering questions right away, it’s perfectly acceptable to say you don’t want to talk about it.
  • Tell people who matter. While some people are more open about their sobriety, you do not need to tell people if you don’t want to. We do recommend you tell your friends and family, but you do not have to tell everyone. People like your coworkers, acquaintances, and so on do not need to know if you don’t want them to.

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Vacation Ideas for the Sober Traveler

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Vacations are for exploring new places, having a good time, and relaxing. While sobriety may change your travel experience, sober vacations can still be all those things. Sobriety doesn’t mean the end of fun things like vacation. In fact, it will most likely improve your vacation experience! You don’t have to worry about nursing a hangover and instead you can spend your time exploring, relaxing, and just having fun.

Where to Go for a Sober Vacation

To be honest, you can travel anywhere you want to. However, depending on your comfort levels, some places may be more recovery-friendly than others. Some vacation destinations have less of a focus on alcohol, drugs, or party scenes. We recommend you skip locations like Napa, Las Vegas, or Ibiza where alcohol and partying are highly emphasized until you are completely comfortable in your recovery and can be there sober. Until then, we recommend these places.

Destinations in the United States

  • San Antonio, Texas: There are a ton of great places to explore in San Antonio. There is the historic Alamo, the Natural Bridge Caverns, the San Antonio River Walk, and more. They even have museums, the zoo, SeaWorld San Antonio, and Six Flags Fiesta Texas.
  • Nashville, Tennessee: The Music City of the United States is a great spot to check out the Country Music Hall of Fame, The Grand Ole Opry, see live music and more. They also have city tours, art, and science museums.
  • Denver, Colorado: You may first think of the abundance of breweries and the legal marijuana when you think of Denver. However, Denver also has plenty of sober attractions. Colorado offers skiing, snowboarding, hiking, white water rafting, and other outdoor activities. They also have the zoo, aquarium, art and science museums, and the Red Rocks Amphitheater.

Destinations Abroad

  • Sri Lanka: The culture in this island de-emphasizes the use of drugs and alcohol. That means that as a tourist, you’ll have reduced exposure. Sri Lanka has a beautiful and diverse landscape. They have beaches to relax on, rainforests to explore, and mountains to hike. They have historical sites as well, like Sigiriya – a rock-top fortress that has served as a royal palace and a Buddhist monastery.
  • Japan: While alcohol is available in Japan, it is much less emphasized. In Japan, you can travel the vibrant cities, explore bamboo forests, and enjoy their delicious food and festivals.
  • Morocco: Like Japan, alcohol is available but not emphasized. It is fairly easy to avoid it all together. Morocco has beautiful architecture and sites. Morocco is home to the Atlas Mountains, the red arches or Legzira, the blue village of Chefchaouen, and more.

In addition to these destinations, there are also sober resorts in Mexico, sober cruises, and more. There are even websites dedicated to sober vacations, like Sober Vacations International and Travel Sober.

What Activities Are There for the Sober Traveler?

A big part of any vacation are your plans. What do you plan to do while you’re there? Of course, the activities you plan depend on where you end up. However, here are some ideas that can be done almost anywhere.

  • A tour of the city you’re in. This can be walking, biking, a bus tour, whatever you decide.
  • Visit historic sites.
  • Visit art, history, or science museums.
  • Try a beach activity. This can be surfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, etc.
  • Try a snow sport. If you go somewhere cold, try skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, etc.
  • Go hiking.
  • Attend local events or festivals that are around.
  • Go to local restaurants and try their food.

While it’s a good idea to plan a few activities to make sure you aren’t bored, be careful that you don’t plan too much! The last thing you want to do on your vacation is feel stressed or rushed to do everything.

Tips for Staying Sober on Vacation

Even though we’ve given you a few destinations that are less focused on alcohol, drugs, and partying, that doesn’t mean they don’t exist there. You may find that you are more tempted in this environment. Here, we will give you some tips on how to stay in recovery while away from home.

  • Travel with a supportive or sober companion who will not make alcohol or substance use a priority on this trip.
  • Plan a few things ahead of time so you aren’t bored but leave room for spontaneous fun! Don’t fill up your schedule to the point where you feel stressed.
  • Choose accommodations that don’t include mini bars in the room.
  • Prepare for potential triggers.
  • If you find yourself struggling, don’t be afraid to reach out to your support system or attend an online support group.

The best time to plan a vacation is after you’ve been able to maintain a stable period in recovery. We recommend this so you are able to truly relax and have fun on your trip.

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New Year’s Resolutions for Recovery

New Year’s resolutions typically get a bad rap, but people in recovery know how important it is to set goals and take steps to achieve them. So, let’s start this new year the right way. Here are five resolutions to continue your recovery.

 

Use Your Support System

Whether your support system consists of family, friends, or it means going to meetings, you need the support of others during recovery. You will benefit from the camaraderie and encouragement from your support system. Using your support system reminds you that you are not alone and empowers you during your sobriety.

 

Nurture Relationships

We’ve already recommended you use your support system. It’s extremely difficult to recover from substance abuse when you’re isolated. We all need a strong support system full of people who love us – whether we’re in recovery or not. Make the resolution to spend quality time with the people you care about. It can be something as simple as a weekly phone call to your parent or sibling, or a coffee date with a friend.

 

Help Others

Volunteering your time and energy for something you care about is a great way to get out of your own head and focus on others. In fact, it is scientifically proven that helping others, helps yourself. Volunteering can keep depression away and give you a sense of purpose and satisfaction. Consider doing things like providing snacks for get togethers or committing to a service project with a charitable organization.

 

Prioritize Sleep

Sleep is extremely important and can make a huge difference in your life. Without proper rest, you are more likely to feel irritated and stressed. A good night’s sleep can help you wake up calm, refreshed, and ready to take on the day. Make sleep a high priority.

 

Manage Stress

Stress is a big trigger. To maintain your sobriety, make a new year’s resolution to manage your stress. At Holland Pathways, we practice yoga every morning. You can also try other forms of exercise, painting, music, and more. Creating healthy habits helps you on the path of recovery.

Staying Sober During the Holidays

Tips for Sobriety During the Holidays

Some of the greatest joy and inner freedom comes from recovery. It is important to protect yourself from relapse during the holiday season. There will be more alcohol, excitement, and emotions than usual.

Here are 12 tips to support your sobriety over the next few months:

  1. Plan Ahead: Plan on taking your own vehicle to every party. This allows you to remain in control of your night by having the ability to leave when you want to. We also recommend taking a sober companion with you for support.
  2. Make Self Care a Priority During the Holidays: The holiday season is great for getting to see family. However, you should also celebrate the holidays by taking care of your body, mind, and soul. We cannot be our best selves if we are depleted. Give yourself the gift of time for yourself, exercise, meditation, and so on. Proper nutrition and sleep will help make you feel stronger, both physically and mentally.
  3. Increase Support: It’s easy to get overwhelmed in the holiday season. So, as you plan each day, make sure you set aside time for support. This means set aside time to meet with a counselor or a support group. If you are traveling to another city, try to schedule a phone meeting or find a support group where you are traveling. Visiting new groups in new cities can be fun!
  4. Know Your Limits of Family Time: We all have our own crazy aunt or uncle. We all have someone who is going to criticize your career choice or relationship status. There may even be family that insists you try their favorite holiday drink. All of this stress can lead us to rationalize and convince ourselves that we are entitled to just one Stay strong. Surround yourself with supportive loved ones who are going to help you in your recovery. And, if you feel like you just can’t be around the family anymore, you can leave. Put your sobriety first.
  5. Use Props: When you arrive at a party, immediately go get yourself a non-alcoholic beverage and keep it in your hand. Whether it’s sparkling water or soda, others will be less inclined to push drinks on you. And, the truth is, most people never really notice what’s in your glass.
  6. Eat Well: Just because it’s the holiday season, doesn’t mean we should overindulge. Stuffing ourselves with too much sugar, carbs, and fat-laden foods usually does not make us feel good and healthy. We aren’t saying you shouldn’t have a piece of pie, but rather watch how much pie you eat. Go ahead and have some turkey and mashed potatoes. But don’t over-do it.
  7. Celebrate Your Relationships: As the holiday season approaches, take the time to appreciate your friends and family. Instead of making your gatherings about drinking and eating food, intentionally make it about the people. Show up early to help with preparations. Stay to help clean up. Or just get together and forget the food. Just be there to appreciate each other.
  8. Serve Others: Look for ways to think about and serve others this holiday season. Whether that means making a special family recipe to take to friends, doing the dishes for your family, or donating your time to a lonely neighbor. These spiritual opportunities allow us to spread happiness and cheer to other people.
  9. Create New Traditions: If your old traditions revolved around alcohol, create a new one. Celebrate the fact that you are in recovery and reestablishing your life. Maybe your new tradition is a sober, festive gathering for you and your friends in recovery.
  10. Avoid Relapse Triggers: Emotional triggers are the most significant relapse triggers. The holiday season is a very emotional season, whether you’re in recovery or not. Our normal routines are disrupted, there are increased demands from friends and family, and so much additional stress. All of this can lead to feelings of shame, guilt, humiliation, embarrassment, anger and depression. The holidays don’t have to be perfect. They never go the way we plan. It is perfectly acceptable to say “no” to a party or a situation.
  11. Make Sobriety Your Top Priority: Honestly, all holiday parties are optional. If you don’t think the party is going to be good for your recovery, it’s okay to not go. You can politely decline the party invite. However, if you still feel like you would like to see the host of the party, make a lunch date for another day.
  12. Focus on the Spirit of the Season: The commercial world puts so much pressure on decorations, alcohol, and shopping. It sells us the lie that happiness can be found in those three things. That’s not the case. Regardless of your faith or spiritual beliefs, the holidays are really just about giving and gratitude. When we focus on these things, the other feelings of resentment, disappointment, worry, depression and so on show up far less often.

 

Staying clean and sober during the holiday season is possible! It can be a great time if we direct our attention towards the people and activities that help us on our road to recovery. Go out, have fun, and enjoy your sobriety with those that matter most.

Holiday Relapse Prevention Plan

The holiday season can be a fun and exciting time. However, it can also be extremely stressful and overwhelming, especially for someone who recently left an inpatient treatment center. The risk of relapse increases around the holidays. Knowing how to prepare for the holidays can save you from a relapse.

 

How to Avoid a Holiday Relapse

The holidays can be a trigger for many reasons. Gatherings often expose you to alcohol or drug use, making it more difficult to maintain your sobriety. In addition, stress and a full schedule can leave you feeling overwhelmed. All of these feelings can increase the likelihood of a relapse. Creating a holiday relapse prevention plan can help you enjoy the holidays while also maintaining your sobriety.

 

Know Your Limits

Everyone is different and relapse triggers vary from person to person. Some people handle stress better than others. It is important to know your limits and what a potential trigger may be. Avoid putting yourself in a situation that could jeopardize your sobriety.

 

Keep Your Recovery Active

Preparing for the holidays while you’re in recovery may mean getting more involved with your aftercare. This can include support groups, recovery meetings, peer coaching, and maybe even online treatment. While aftercare is recommended for anyone in recovery, you may need to do more in the holiday season. Look into additional meetings and what resources will be available to you.

 

Ask About Drugs & Alcohol in Advance

If you are invited to a holiday party, ask about the presence of drugs and alcohol before you make a decision. If there are going to be drugs and alcohol there, it is okay to say no. Your sobriety comes first.

 

Have and Exit Plan

We recommend to always have an exit plan. When you attend a holiday party, there is always a chance of facing stress or triggers. While using techniques from recovery can help you cope with stress, sometimes just leaving the party is the best option. That’s why we always recommend you drive yourself, so you can leave whenever you want. We also recommend you take a trusted friend with you that you can turn to when tempted or stressed.