There’s a common misconception that being sober is boring. That giving up drugs and alcohol means having to miss out on fun experiences, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. This week, we traveled to beautiful Montauk, Long Island, to chat with Jimmy Hamm, founder of The Bridge NYC and the Clean Fun Network about sober fun, and specifically sober travel.
Mountainside: Hey Jimmy, how are you?
Jimmy Hamm: I’m doing very well, thank you!
Mountainside: Before we get into it here, would you mind telling us, how long have you been in recovery?
Jimmy Hamm: I’ve been in recovery since January of 2007, so you could say thirteen and a half years.
Mountainside: When did you feel comfortable enough in your recovery to get out and travel, and how did you know that you were ready?
Jimmy Hamm: That’s a good question. I remember I went to a sober party when I had forty-five days, and I only lasted five minutes! (Laughs) I ran out of that party freaking out! People may find this hard to believe, but I wasn’t very social at the very beginning of my recovery. Then, at the six-month point, I went on a sober rafting trip with an AA group called Not A Glum Lot, and that trip changed everything in my sobriety. If it wasn’t for that trip, I don’t know if I would’ve stayed sober. It was the jumping-off point for me to start having fun in recovery.
Mountainside: But how did you know you were ready?
Jimmy Hamm: It just hit me, you know? I didn’t think I had it in me ‘cause I was basically doing it on my own. I was on “Jimmy Island” for six months, and then once I went on this rafting trip, it just clicked. I could see that people could have fun in recovery. I had more fun on that trip than I did in the ten previous years I was out there! I was sold!
Mountainside: Were new surroundings and situations triggering at all?
Jimmy Hamm: I went on a vacation to the Dominican Republic when I had about a year sober, and I went with two sober guys. I remember the first couple of nights were a bit difficult. Those guys had more time than me. I was a year sober, one guy had seven years, the other had five years, and it was a big party scene. In early recovery, I recommend that if you do go away on vacation, you go with another sober fellow.
Mountainside: You’ve created the opportunity for others to travel safely in sobriety through the Clean Fun Network. Any advice for people going on a sober vacation for the first time?
Jimmy Hamm: Have an open mind, have an open heart, and make sure you go with somebody else. If you go to a sober event that’s sponsored by a sober group, don’t be scared to go by yourself. You may be like, “Oh, I don’t know anybody; this is going to be nerve-wracking; I don’t know if I can do it,” but everybody else there has been in the same position as you. No one really comes in with a group. We all come in as individuals and then the relationships grow organically. So if you are going to a sober event, my advice is to go alone so you can meet new people!
Mountainside: Those are great tips. Thank you, Jimmy!
Jimmy Hamm: Thank you!