The Airport & Addiction

It’s not typically two things you would think about putting together: the airport and addiction. Probably two things someone who’s not in recovery would ever think about. But, addiction can be a serious pain in the ass while traveling and especially at the airport. Im young enough that I missed the days of care-free travel where security was an afterthought, you would be met by family and friends at the gate, and I’ve even heard that smoking was aloud on airplanes. Call me young & naive, but that last one is a bit too far.

Im sober, and I travel as frequently as possible. However, whenever I step into an airport the stress goes up and triggers start to flare. Im an anxious person as well. The anxiety of being searched and feel like Im constantly being judged is serious no-go for me. My time in addiction treatment really helped teach me that everything isn’t out to get me, but damn it’s hard to not feel like that in the middle of an American airport. I feel like screaming “IT WASNT ME!!!!” at every security guard or TSA agent that breathes at me.

Either way, the stress of security is the biggest factor for me. It sets off my anxiety and makes me feel really off. My old addict brain tells me to grab a drink and drown that feeling. My new sober brain is telling me to acknowledge that feeling, address it, and focus on my breathing. Remind myself that Im ok and the trigger is no longer a trigger. It’ simply just another daily obstacle…nothing more nothing less.

So at that point Im calm and Im in a chair. Typically I would’ve arrived to the airport like 3 hours early to deal with the anxiety and grab a drink. Then after a few shots the boredom would set in…aaaaaaaaand more drinking! Now, I make sure to not get to the airport early than an hour and a half before departure. This doesn’t give me time to get bored.

It really is amazing what I learned in drug rehab. Once I finished and left treatment I feel like I couldn’t recall any exercises or help myself at all. But as time wore on I found myself remembering little bits and worked them into my life. Once again, I am not letting my addiction define my travels! Here’s a great list of some ways to stay sober in long-term recovery if you’re interested.

Stay sober my friends


4 thoughts on “The Airport & Addiction

  1. I’ll add another few thoughts for you to contemplate. First, congratulations on your early sobriety! I sobered up at 22 and I’m old enough to remember ashtrays in airplane arm rests.

    Who is to say your feelings are valid in the first place? Your emotions are triggered by an external stimulus and you react. When I find myself in that situation, heck when most people do, we just roll with it.

    A long time ago it occurred to me that I can change the tape I play in my head. Once I learned to stop before I freaked out, I owned my thoughts. It was the second most freeing day of my life. Right behind the day I made the decision to quit for real. Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

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