Enjoying The Perfect Sober Summer
Summertime… warm, invigorating sunshine, family picnics, days at the beach, an evening stroll along the boardwalk, and more. For many Americans, summertime is the best time, the sunny highlight of their year.
With longer days to enjoy, and more alcohol-driven social gatherings to attend – for some, it’s pure heaven. For example, summertime brings endless beer-filled barbecues in the backyard to celebrate Independence Day and Memorial Day (see, even the federal government understands it’s vacation season… “Have a couple of days off with our blessing, fellow American!”).
For others, however – like those in addiction recovery – it’s a time that has to be carefully planned and then navigated, with one eye on the fun and the sun, and one eye fixed permanently looking out for potential relapse triggers or other dangers.
There’s plenty to watch out for, too…
Have you heard about this new fad – work-hosted “happy hours”? This is where many companies, in an effort to foster a more positive office culture, host weekly work gatherings, either at the office or a nearby bar, with free drinks for all.
During the summer, people tend to be busier, too, with more social entries on their calendars. And if you have kids to occupy as well, you’ll not just be busier, you’ll end up feeling pretty exhausted and overwhelmed before you know it.
The temptation to revert to some kind of substance use – a drink to relax or a pill to perk you up – to feel better and more energetic or to chill after a long day has often proved too strong for many in recovery.
“Just one… What harm can just one do?”
Another potential trigger – a big one, too – is music festivals, gigs, and concerts. These types of events usually involve alcohol and drugs somewhere. Furthermore, some music genres actively encourage the use of recreational drugs or smoking weed.
So the question for those who are really looking forward to Summer, 2022, but tinged with a little trepidation because they are in recovery from a substance addiction (known medically as a substance use disorder or SUD for short), is a simple one:
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How can I Stay Sober During the Summer Months?
Your answer is here – derived from the advice of several addiction specialists, with a little personal experience thrown in too.
Yes, I have been the stumbling drunk at the rock gig, the only one at the work picnic high on coke and weed, and the only member of my family that didn’t attend many backyard barbies because my parents banned booze for that specific day…
Fortunately, that was many years ago, and I have years and years of being clean and sober behind me now. It all began at a random Tucson AA meeting, and progressed to a professional detox and residential rehab. That first AA meeting pretty much saved my life.
Here are your “5 Cool Tips for Enjoying The Perfect Sober Summer in 2022.”
Think about your recovery journey so far. If you have only been in recovery for a short time, you will be still adjusting to, what is, basically a new life, and a new way of living. You are the demographic most at risk in terms of the recovery community.
By being fully self-aware (and understanding your recovery should be considered fragile), you need to think about your potential triggers, and how you will respond to these. Remember, you do not need to attend every event offered to you. Recovery is your paramount concern.
However, if you have been in recovery for a significant period of time (at least, a couple of years), you’ll be far more comfortable with the steps you need to take to ensure your continued sobriety. Remember to take those steps.
2. Handling Emotions
Many people turn to substances when they want to “self-medicate” their emotions, such as when they feel angry, sad, hard done, or other strong emotions. Summertime weather can alter your emotions and your mood, and can possibly tempt you to use Understand when your emotions can be powerful enough that you want to self-medicate.
3. FOMO: The “Fear Of Missing Out”
FOMO, or the “fear of missing out,” is a real and modern phenomenon, becoming increasingly more common, particularly in younger people. If you think you may miss out on something, remember that your sobriety is far more important than a temporary good time. For one, your sobriety needs to be permanent.
If you are going to an event where there may be alcohol or drugs present. You need to make a rock-solid game plan for how you’re going to avoid temptation and stay 100% sober. You’ll need to think about
- Having a sober friend at the event for added security
- Taking your own non-alcoholic drinks
- Giving yourself a proposed cut-off time when you’ll leave
- If you begin feeling tempted, leave straight away
5. Calendar Care
There is absolutely no problem having a social calendar packed with activities, like BBQs, weddings, friends’ birthdays, and music concerts.
However, it’s important to balance those activities, too, with ones that definitely don’t involve alcohol or drugs. You can also plan your own regular sober summer activities to share with your friends.
Many of these tips will apply all year round, but a busy summer is often when those in addiction recovery sadly relapse. Remember, if that happens to you, and you do relapse, it’s not failure. It just means you need to adjust your relapse prevention plan.
Above all else, stay safe.