Staying Connected When You Travel

A new year’s resolution for many people in recovery is to travel more. Given the gift of life, they are inspired to set out and see the world. Drug addiction especially tends to isolate people to their locations. For fear of not being able to purchase drugs and having to suffer withdrawals, many don’t travel. While both drugs and alcohol are available worldwide, it can be much more risky to buy drugs internationally. Alcohol is globally celebrated and normalized. In advanced stages of alcoholism, alcoholics are too sick to leave their houses while not intoxicated. As a result, they miss out on experiencing life beyond inebriation.

Traveling Sober

Traveling while sober is a wonderful experience. Not spending money on drugs, alcohol, parties, or other related things gives someone the ability to truly enjoy the world. However, traveling requires responsibility and accountability. Temptation is everywhere! Many people fear that once they get sober they will not be able to have fun anymore because they won’t be able to resist the temptation of drugs or alcohol anywhere they go. This simply is not true. By staying connected and committed to your sobriety, there is little you cannot do and few places you cannot go.

“Assuming we are spiritually fit, we can do all sorts of things alcoholics are not supposed to do,” write the authors ofThe Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. “Our experience shows that this is not necessarily so,” the authors assure the readers. “An alcoholic who cannot meet them, still has an alcoholic mind; there is something the matter with his spiritual status.”

Get Connected

Maintaining that “spiritual status” of sobriety is easy to do when traveling. Alcoholism is a worldwide disease, meaning that recovery is a worldwide solution. Meetings of alcoholics anonymous exist all over the world. You can find information and schedules about them online, or by asking a local when you arrive to your destination. For personal support, make sure you are able to get in touch with your therapist, counselor, or twelve step sponsor as well as your closest recovery peers. Everyone will be supportive of your recovery inspiring you to get out and see the world. Should you run into temptation or difficult times, you know you have a support system back home, and global network of people who also struggle, everywhere you go.

Enlightened Solutions is multilevel treatment program offering residential care, intensive outpatient, partial hospitalization, and more. For information on our programs and how we can help you live the life you’ve been waiting for, call 833-801-5483.

Understanding “Trigger Warnings”

Movies are rated from G to X, increasing in severity of material. G stands for General Audience, meaning the material should be enjoyable to most people. X tends to mean there is intense sexual or violently graphic content. An R-rated movie, for example, is not open to anyone younger than age 18 and requires valid ID to enter. The rating system is supposed to prevent children from experiencing film content which could be disturbing to them. Similar rating systems happen before TV shows air, as labels on music albums, and even on books.

School systems adopted a warning system to aid students before class. College is meant to be a time of mental and psychological growth. The mind is being opened, challenged, and pushed more than it has in previous academic training. Consequently, some minds may not be prepared for some of the material presented, especially if it will trigger trauma.

In psychology, a “trigger” is a stimulus that brings up especially difficult emotions, memories, or physical feelings. “Triggers” are usually assigned to experiences undergone by people who have been diagnosed with PTSD, post traumatic stress disorder. For example, a military veteran who has returned to civilian life and is pursuing an education might be triggered by videos shown in class about war. People experience a spectrum of traumas in their lives. Though there is no way of knowing who will be triggered by what trauma, it is considered respectful of academic institutions to offer a warning. Students need to maintain their mental health in order to perform well and survive school.

Arguments against Trigger Warnings

Richard J. McNally recently wrote a piece for The New York Times titled “If you Need a Trigger Warning, You Need PTSD Treatment”, responding to Chicago University Dean Jay Ellison. The Dean came under fire recently when he openly proclaimed in his welcoming letter to incoming students (class of 2020) that there would be no “trigger warnings” available for them this academic school year.

McNally argues that while trauma is common, an actual diagnosis of PTSD is rare. He cites that most people have experienced trauma and end up with “transient stress symptoms”. Though triggering situations are stressful, they are manageable. Few people do not recover. Someone with untreated or ongoing PTSD will have episodes in reaction to triggering course material. Interestingly, McNally argues that encouraging the avoidance of triggering material, like allowing the student to skip class, prevents important healing. Demonstratively, adverse reaction to college classes on an emotional level indicates a need for more mental health care in the student.


Though teachers may be advised against giving students a trigger warning, it would benefit them to be aware of mental health first aid. Should a student be troubled by class material, a teacher should be prepared to guide that student toward the campus counseling office for psychological services. Underlying mental health issues might surface for the first time when someone is away at college, on their own for the first time. Of course, one cannot expect the world around them to be sensitive to their particular triggers. Learning how to manage mental health is as important for young people as learning anything else in school.