Summer may be a time for parties, festivals, and spending time with loved ones, but for those in recovery, it’s one of the toughest seasons to stay sober. Keep reading to learn why staying sober in the summer is challenging, as well as 10 ways to stay on track during the season.
What Makes Staying Sober In The Summer So Challenging?
With its beautiful weather and long days, summer is a time for parties, BBQs, and weddings. For most, these events are an opportunity to catch up with friends and family. But when you’re sober, they can be fraught with the temptation to drink or do drugs.
Staying sober during the summer is also challenging because many people have a more relaxed attitude during the season. Some may leave for vacation and neglect meetings, while others may justify having a drink at a party saying “it’s just one.”
Others may struggle with sobriety because of the increased demands on their time. This could come from having kids home from school or a busier social calendar than usual. Having too many obligations can lead to stress and feelings of overwhelm, both of which can trigger a relapse.
But just because staying sober during the summer is difficult doesn’t mean it’s impossible. In fact, it can be manageable if you stay serious about your recovery process. To that end, we’ve put together 10 tips to help you stay on track. Keep reading to see what they are.
10 Ways To Stay Sober During The Summer
1. Stay vigilant about recovery
Staying on top of your recovery program is the best thing to do to maintain sobriety during the summer. After all, it’s not uncommon to get complacent about recovery after being sober for months or years. Add to that the laissez-faire attitude that comes with the long, lazy days of summer and you’ve got a recipe for disaster on your hands.
But you don’t have to let complacency cost you your sobriety. Prioritize recovery meetings in your schedule and keep attending no matter how busy you get. If you miss a meeting due to vacation or another event, go twice the next week. In addition, stay in contact with your sponsor and keep practicing addiction treatment therapies you learned during rehab.
2. Avoid “old” places and people
Just as staying on track with your recovery is essential, so too is avoiding places or people that you associate with substance use. People who participated in your addictive behavior are one of the most dangerous relapse triggers that exist. Similarly, certain places that bring up memories of addiction are also potential triggers.
Ideally, it’s best to avoid these places and people completely, however that may not always be possible. If that’s the case, it’s important to have strategies for combating these triggers.
For example, if you’re an alcoholic and you see colleagues going to happy hour, it’s helpful to have an excuse ready for why you’re not going. Similarly, it may also be helpful to have a healthy activity like yoga or reading to fall back on.
3. Enjoy events, but have a game plan
Just because you’re staying sober doesn’t mean you have to live like a hermit all summer. It’s fine to go out and enjoy events, but make sure you have a game plan to avoid temptation.
For instance, your plan could include things like…
- Taking a sober friend to the event.
- Bringing your own non-alcoholic drinks so no one offers you one with alcohol.
- Giving yourself a curfew and sticking to it.
- Having a motivational quote on your phone so that every time you check it, you get a reminder about staying sober.
4. Host your own event
One of the best ways to combat relapse triggers is by replacing old, unhealthy habits with new, healthy ones. So instead of spending all summer dodging substance triggers, why not host your own substance-free party?
To have the best party possible, be sure to…
- Mention that your event is substance-free in your invitation. This should prevent any confusion or awkward conversations during the party.
- Have plenty of non-alcoholic beverages available. Sparkling water, soda, and lemonade are all classic options, but why not celebrate by trying a new mocktail recipe?
- Keep guests busy with activities like horseshoes, cornhole, and dancing.
5. Stay busy
Just like people and places are relapse triggers, so too is boredom. Especially for those who are newly sober, using substances as a way to cure boredom and increase excitement is very common. And even if you’ve been sober for months or years, extra-long summer days with fewer responsibilities may make you feel like you have more time on your hands than usual.
Luckily, summer is a great time to get outside and try new things. For instance, you could…
- Play tourist in your own city and discover new restaurants or shops.
- Check out local fairs or festivals.
- Get active by joining a sports league or a group exercise class.
- Explore nature by camping or hiking.
- Complete a home improvement project.
- Cook dinner for friends and family.
- Read, write, or journal.
These are just a few ideas, but the options are endless. Spend some time thinking about how you’d like to stay occupied and see how many things you can cross off your list.
6. Balance your schedule
It’s totally fine to have a summer calendar jam-packed with activities like beach trips, BBQs, weddings, and concerts, but it’s important to balance these activities with ones where there is no alcohol or drugs.
For example, for every wedding you attend, plan a hiking trip. For every BBQ, go to the gym a few times that week. Keeping a balanced schedule will help you stay on the wagon all summer long.
No matter what you’ve got planned this summer, try activities like…
- Bike riding
- Museum trips
- Cooking classes
7. Pay attention to your emotions
Emotions like stress, anger, sadness, and loneliness are all triggers for substance use. Depending on what’s going on in your life and how busy your summer calendar is, you may experience these emotions more frequently during the summer months. That’s why it’s so important to be self-aware and notice times when your emotions are tempting you to drink or use drugs.
8. Practice self-care
Filling your cup, recharging your battery, whatever you call it, taking care of your mental and physical health is essential for maintaining your recovery.
Self-care will look different for everyone, but in general, it means taking time throughout the day to decompress, eat well, check in with your emotions, practice hobbies, and exercise.
9. Relax and enjoy summer
Setting unrealistic expectations can create unnecessary stress and lead to a relapse. The more expectations you place on yourself, the more stress you add to your life and the higher your chances are for a relapse. That’s why it’s so important to give yourself a break if you’re planning a vacation or an event.
It may be easier said than done, but try to remember that summer comes every year. If things don’t go exactly as planned, there will still be plenty of other opportunities for trips, parties, and celebrations.
10. Be kind to yourself
Whether you’re one day sober or 1,000 days sober, remember that recovery comes one day at a time. Sobriety is a lifelong journey and it’s important to recognize that there will be obstacles along the way. But just because there are obstacles doesn’t mean you should get discouraged.
Take life day by day and work on being kind to yourself. When you face a difficult moment, try to respond with kindness and remember that you’re worthy of forgiveness and happiness.
How To Handle A Relapse
The road to sobriety is a long one and isn’t without its challenges. Even the best tips won’t help you every time. But just because you have a relapse doesn’t mean that you should give up. It’s just a small setback on your road to recovery.
If you have a relapse, take it seriously, call your sponsor, and get to a meeting as soon as possible. The sooner you address the relapse, the better your chances of coming back from it.
La Fuente Can Provide The Extra Support You Need
We hope this guide to staying sober during the summer will help you out in the months ahead. However, we recognize that some people may need additional help and support to regain or maintain sobriety.
To that end, we propose LGBTQ-affirmative inpatient and outpatient programs at our Los Angeles treatment center.
Interested in learning more about La Fuente? Fill out the form below and a member of our staff will get in touch with you.