Between the ages of 15 and 32, I used drugs nearly every day. Like many addicts, I didn’t realize I had a problem until that problem was too big to control. By the time I was 20, I had all but given up and had succumbed to my addiction. I tried to stop, many times in fact, but nothing worked and I rarely stayed clean for more than a few weeks.
Then, three years ago, something changed. I discovered a new hobby, a new passion, and that helped to turn my life around. In this article, I’ll show you how I discuss the 5 ways traveling has helped me through my addiction.
It Keeps You Busy
Three years ago I was fully committed to staying clean. But I was just as committed the previous times, and nothing worked. The thing that always turned me back to the drugs was boredom. I could handle the withdrawals, but I struggled with the boredom that followed.
Then, several weeks into my recovery, a friend offered me a holiday to Cancun. He had split with his partner, with whom he had arranged the tip over a year before. I was hesitant, worried that I wasn’t in the right frame of mind. But I accepted, and I never looked back. That holiday helped me to take my mind off the drugs while giving me something to look forward to. Before I knew it 3 more weeks had passed and I felt great.
After that, the holidays kept coming.
It’s a Great Way to Spend Your Cash
I know what you’re thinking, how can a former addict afford to travel all of the time? Well, it’s cheaper than you might think. I know addicts who live on the streets and yet still manage to claw together a few hundred dollars a week. I know others who live off the system and have enough to afford a $200 a week habit.
If you look for cheap flights, if you stay in hostels or couch surf, if you holiday with friends, and if you avoid the big, expensive cities, you can stay on foreign soil for less than $100 a week.
You Meet Great People
Two years ago, while holidaying in Botswana, I met my current partner. She had similar experiences as me. She was younger, more spirited, more creative, more alive. She was everything I wanted to be myself, and everything I wanted in a partner.
That’s not all. In Peru, I met one of my current best friends, a man who has taught me a great deal about spirituality. In Mexico, I met a local family who has become like a second family to me.
If you travel cheap and go off the beaten track, you can meet so many amazing people, all of whom have the potential to change your life for the better.
You Understand That Life is Worth Living
At my lowest points, I have contemplated suicide. Many addicts have been in a similar position. Everything seems pointless. You feel like you will never be able to experience joy or happiness without using drugs, but at the same time, you no longer feel the euphoria you once felt when taking those drugs.
It’s a Catch-22 that leads to utter misery.
But when you travel, your mind opens up, your perspective changes and everything becomes so much clearer. I have seen things I never thought possible. Beautiful things. Life affirming things. I have felt, tasted and enjoyed so much more as a sober traveler than I ever did as a drug addicted recluse.
It Makes Sobriety a Necessity
The stereotype of a drug user is of someone who is reckless and not averse to breaking the law. That wasn’t the case for me. Besides taking drugs, the only time I have broken the law was when I stole a candy bar from my local shop. I was 8 at the time, and I felt so guilty that I didn’t sleep for three days.
Not all users are as guilt-ridden and law-abiding as I am. But few of them would consider trying to smuggle drugs across borders, and when you’re an addict traveling regularly, that’s what you have to do.
At the peak of my addiction, I was spending thousands of dollars a week on drugs, most of which was going on meth. I was a mess. The meth had done some horrible things to my body, and this was worsened by other drugs. If I wanted to take an extended vacation, I’d need to take vast quantities of meth and prescription medications (for which I had no prescription) with me. I’d also stand out, which means I would be searched, those drugs would be found, and I’d be spending the next 20 years behind bars.
That fear stopped me from going on holiday. During my addiction, I didn’t really care. However, once I was in recovery it was enough to keep me off the drugs. I knew that if I started using again, I would get hooked, and if I was hooked, I wouldn’t be able to continue traveling. This is something I had grown to love, something that had changed my life for the better.