This discussion topic about an addict who travels is from one of our friends in recovery, Sam. Thanks to Sam for contributing to the group discussion and for the time he put into collecting his thoughts. If you’re interested in sharing a discussion topic, please reach out to me here.
At least for me, traveling is one of the most difficult times to maintain recovery. It seems that when I leave home the forces of evil gang up on me. I get triggered right and left, I get all kinds of “stinkin’ thinkin'” throughout the trip, and in the past I have rarely made it without some kind of acting out.
That said, I am traveling all week this week. Luckily this time I am going with my wife. However, it will still be a challenge. I want this to be a wonderful time for us to connect, so I don’t want to spend all my time lusting. Here are some things that have worked for me in the past:
7 Tips for an Addict Who Travels
First, travel with someone.
Second, maintain your daily routines as much as possible, particularly your “dailies.”
Third, maintain your boundaries as usual.
Fourth, keep in touch frequently with group members. Multiple calls per day are helpful.
Fifth, find time to connect with family. Skype is a great way since then you can see each other.
Sixth, be persistent at surrendering lust. Make calls as needed.
Seventh, take reminders with you. These can be things like pictures of family, letters from family members, etc.
I’m interested in any other ideas you guys have.
This is something I have thought about a lot. In the past I have gone into preoccupation weeks or even months before I have gone on a trip, and I have planned on acting out. Now that I am working my recovery, I have a clear plan in place to avoid preoccupation before the trip and I have a very clear plan in place for any time I am traveling, or my family is away traveling.
When I travel I start every day with my dailies. I check in 3 times a day, at breakfast, lunch and a thorough, nightly check-in with my wife.
Knowing that traveling is one the most dangerous times for my sobriety, has helped me to build a concrete plan around my recovery. My recovery is more important than any work or business trip so if I have to travel I plan to work my recovery as well. Along with my dailies and check ins I have clear consequences in place for missing my dailies or breaking any bottoms lines. The consequences are not there as a punishment, but as a reminder that I have to be vigilant in order to maintain my recovery and sobriety. My dailies and bottom lines are actually much more strict for travel than for when I am at home. They are not restrictive in any way but protective in many ways. I will have a cerfew for media, and a clear bed time and wake time. I will start my day on my knees and I will journal nightly, in order to use the time to my advantage and personal growth.
I don’t know if this helps you guys, but I look forward to hearing what you guys have to say.
I travel periodically and being consistent with my dailies is CRITICAL. If I have not been zealous with my dailies, the temptations pop up when they normally do not. However, if I am being consistent and sincere in my dailies, the temptations have no power and no desire.
I would share an experience I had one week I was on travel. I had a couple of years of sobriety so I was doing great. I checked into the hotel room and as I was doing my nightly inventory and journal writing, I heard sounds from next door that seemed to me to be a pornographic movie on the TV. I was extremely concerned that I would not be tempted by it. I knelt in prayer and prayed for strength. I was able to not be bothered again that night. The next morning I was awaken by those sounds again. As I again knelt and prayed I felt I should use my priesthood to bless the hotel room to be a sanctuary for the duration of my visit. This I did and was not bothered again for the duration of my trip. I was strengthened and learned that the Priesthood is for my help as well as helping others. I now know this is a great and powerful tool that can be used.
Justin B says
One thing that helps me when I travel is to seek out recovery meetings in each place that I will be at for at least one night. Although there is not always a recovery meeting where and when will work for me, just making the effort and reporting on that effort can be enough to keep my mind and heart in the right place.
You didn’t mention it, but there are also a lot of phone meetings available. I have pasted a list in here. Hopefully it will retain the tabs and formatting.
PASG – Pornography Addiction Support Groups Phone Meetings
Men Only Groups
Sunday Time Phone # Access Code
Erie PA, 16509 4:00pm 855-537-4000 1230 0060#
Tuesday Time Phone # Access Code
East Lansing, MI 48823 11:30am 855-537-4000 1230 0060#
Carlsbad, CA 92008 7:00pm 801-240-9700 996 265 844
Denham Springs, LA 70726 7:00pm 877-675-2974 709 2701
Kalamazoo, MI 49006 7:30pm 855-537-4000 1230 0060#
Vancouver BC, Canada 8:00pm 855-537-4000 997 500 583
Wednesday Time Phone # Access Code
Snowflake, AZ 85937 7:00pm 855-537-4000 998 28 420
Lancaster, CA 93536-5403 7:00pm 855-537-4000 994 488 2133
Perrysburg, OH 43551 7:00pm 855-537-4000 3519 0100
White River, IN 7:00pm 855-537-4000 333 66 844
Pleasanton, CA 94566 7:30pm 855-537-4000 997 989 749
Rohnert Park, CA 94928-1757 7:30pm 605-475-4799 336962#
Baltimore, MD 21221 7:30pm 855-537-4000 168 34 237
Lexington, KY 40509 8:30pm 855-537-7000 333 66 844
Thursday Time Phone # Access Code
Snowflake, AZ 85937 7:00pm 855-537-4000 999-869-797
Las Vegas, NV 89108 7:00pm 855-537-4000 999 567 571
Fargo, ND 58103-3610 7:00pm 855-537-4000 991 347 583
Kingsport, TN 37660-7218 7:00pm 855-537-4000 33366844
Crestwood, OH 7:00pm 855-537-4000 990 050 176
Victoria BC, Canada 8:00pm 855-583-4000 995 630 632
Saturday Time Phone # Access Code
Cincinnati, OH 45245 7:30am 855-537-4000 999 203 873
Oakland. MD 9:00am 855-573-4000 3500 005# #
Lethbridge Alberta, Canada 10:00am 855-537-4000 991 054 179
Minneapolis, MN 55414 11:00am 855-573-4000 994 800 843
SA also has a ton of phone meetings. Also, SAL is doing several web meetings per week.
My experiences traveling for work are mixed, and each directly corresponds with my mental and emotional states at the time. Before working recovery, some trips were as benign as any other day at work, with the exception that I always felt more free to be “me” in ways that I’d come to believe my home life didn’t afford. Truth is that I was subconsciously looking for lust at home and abroad, so of course I felt more free. I was hoping for opportunities to have others lust after me, to flirt, or whatever I thought I really wanted/needed at the time (taking from others, always). At the apex of my acting out, I used the time away purposefully engage in porn, flirting, affairs, and every other kind of lusting imaginable.
Since working recovery, I’ve ensured that I hold to my dailies of checking in with my wife and sponsor, as well as adding more reaching out to my regular schedule. I make plans with my wife for what I’m going to do each day, including something special to help her feel safe. I take a special stuffed animal that I put on my hotel bed to remind me of my wife and family. I take lots of pics (usually selfies) to include my wife in everything I’m doing, I text her as often as my schedule affords, and I keep her completely up to date on my schedule and any changes that might happen to it. It’s all about transparency. I could push back on some of it as potentially being excessive, but the way I look at it now is that my acting out and secrets were excessively damaging, selfish, and destructive, and so I have the opportunity to rewrite that history with a track record of connecting and transparency that help me make sure I’m really in it for the right reasons. I could say that I’m doing all this for my wife, but if that’s the case then I’m not really invested in my recovery – which I’ve said/done before.
JR – these are some awesome ideas. I hope your stuffed animals wears a cool shirt like you always do:) No seriously, these are awesome ways to keep reminders, keep connected, etc.
Nick Liechty says
This topic is very timely for me as I will be traveling for work for the first time since in recovery in a few weeks. In the past, business trips have been a prime time for acting out. I would like to change that going forward.
Here are some things I plan to do to work my recovery while on my trip:
– bring my White Book and Step Into Action book and read;
– work on my Step 4 inventory (I will probably be working on that inventory by then, though I’m not to that step yet);
– look for a meeting to attend,
– check in with people and my wife multiple times a day, and possibly even hourly in the evenings since that was such a hard time for me before;
– read scriptures;
– seek wholesome entertainment;
– surrender often on my knees, on the phone, and in writing;
– keep pictures of my family close by;
– Face-Time with my family daily.
Hopefully all of these things will be enough to keep me busy!
If anyone has other tips I should consider I welcome them!
Looks like a great plan to me, Nick.
Jeff C says
My personal recovery mantra is “Whatever it takes!” This is amped up when I need to travel for work. Some of the best advice I have received is to think outside the box when preparing for the trip by asking questions like:
– Do I really need to stay by myself at a hotel?
– Can I bunk up with a coworker? (male only, of course)
– Could I contact a bishop in the area and find a family to stay with?
– Could I stay at a KOA campground without the temptation of late night tv?
– If a hotel is the only option, can I ask to have the tv removed?
– Can I limit my time in my hotel room to ONLY sleeping by working/studying in the lobby or common area?
– Is a bed & breakfast a better option with people to interact with at meal time?
– Can I rent a van instead of a car and sleep in the van?
What else can you change in your travel routine, even if those changes may seem drastic or confusing to others? Recovery is about starting a NEW life, not just our old life without the addiction. There is no better feeling than coming home from a business trip and being able to report to my wife that my sobriety/recovery is still in place!
AMEN Jeff! Your comment reminds me of what Elizabeth Smart said at UCAP in 2015 – when she got back after being kidnapped for 9 months, she just wanted everything to go back to “normal.” She didn’t want to think about it anymore, she didn’t want to be different – she wanted everything to go back to the way it was.
But this was impossible. It couldn’t be the same – things had to be different if she was going to recover from the trauma that she’d experienced.
She had to live a “new normal.”
I love the suggestions you mentioned and agree that doing things completely different has to be the new normal for me. Luckily, I don’t have to travel much at all for work right now, but I’ve had to change my “normal” when it comes to things like TV, Internet usage, social media, even music. Although the changes aren’t always easy, they are the weapons of war I’ve chosen to bury deep in the earth and not dig back up when I feel like it.
Thanks for your comment!
I love the idea of whatever it takes. I think of it as “by all means necessary.” Some of your ideas seem crazy, but, if that’s what it takes, that’s what we do. Nothing is as crazy as acting out!!