Whether it’s the drinks for cook-outs or baseball games, patio dining or beach vacations – or even just the added stress of having kids home from school – summer often strikes many people as a difficult season to stay sober. Admittedly, when you’re in active addiction, there are excuses to drink or use within nearly any season or occasion. But with the start of the summer season, we wanted to share some of the best advice we have for sticking to sobriety.
1. Keep Connected with Other People in Recovery.
Whether you’re new to recovery or you have time under your belt, you can never have too many people supporting you in your health and sobriety. 12-step programs, meetings, support groups, even online chats and forums are a great way to keep connected with other people in recovery. Having a support system like this can be invaluable to sobriety: they understand what you’re going through and can help you with tough situations. You don’t need to do this alone!
2. No Need to Connect with Old Faces and Places.
It’s likely there are several places you associate with being drunk or high. Just as it’s important to have new, sober friends who share your journey in recovery, it’s wise not to get back with any people you used or drank with – or go to the places you did it. Are your intentions really just to “swing by and say hi” ? Be honest with yourself and your motives. If you’re just hoping to “test” yourself – it’s not worth the test. It’s OK to decline invitations if you’re uncomfortable or unsure of the event or situation.
3. But if You Have to Go… Bring a Sober Friend.
Is there a wedding or a work function that you’re obligated to attend that you know will be providing alcohol? There’s safety in numbers: it’s much easier to stay sober if you’re not alone. If you’re with someone who shares in your mission for recovery, it will be easier to refrain from drinking. Make a plan of action before you arrive, and a plan to leave early if necessary.
Note: Talk to your sober friend ahead of time and let them know the situation. Make sure they’re prepared and comfortable to be in that environment, as well.
4. Stay Sober Through Service.
Volunteering is a great way to support your recovery from drug or alcohol addiction – and the summertime is a great time to do so. Now that drugs and alcohol are no longer a priority in your life, what are your passions? Animal lover? Volunteer at a local humane society. Passionate about the arts? Volunteer as a stagehand for a community play. Passionate about your recovery? Find people who need you – just like you needed people to help you when you got sober. By giving back and helping others in need, you not only give back, you also start to feel self-worth again. When you feel better about your purpose, you’ll be less tempted to relapse.
5. Discuss The Difficulties – And Be Honest.
When you run into a challenge, or feel like drinking or using – don’t keep it to yourself. It’s alright to let your feelings out and share what you’re going through with recovering friends, a sponsor, or at a 12-step meeting. If you’re going through something, the chances are high that someone else is going through it, has gone through it, or will go through it. Talk to someone who can help you decide if drinking or getting high is really the best choice for you right now. Sharing what’s on your mind or in your heart will not only help you, it may also help someone else. Remember, recovery programs are “we programs” – you don’t just stay sober by yourself.
6. Understand That You Aren’t Perfect.
Just like anything else in life, sobriety is a process – and it takes time. There is no right or wrong way to get sober, and no perfect way to stay sober. Mistakes happen: we sometimes say or do the wrong things. We will disappoint people. If you understand that mistakes can be part of the process and that you can learn from them, those mistakes won’t be wasted. Don’t let your mistakes define you, but let them make you who you are working to become.
7. Be Good To Yourself – One Day At A Time.
Step #4 is a great tool to maintaining sobriety – but what about you? Being kind to yourself is something that many people struggle with. Often times, it’s so much easier to be kind to the people around us, but we constantly degrade ourselves. You’re worthy of good, of happiness and forgiveness. Don’t forget that! Be good to yourself and take your sobriety day by day. The days will add up over time – but it all starts with Day #1. Trust in the moment and focus on the now.
Summer can be one of the most difficult times of the year for people in recovery from drugs or alcohol because of the free time that it can allow, and the high energy of the season. Follow these tips to remain sober in the summertime, and stay focused on your recovery.