Stay Sober this Summer with these 5 Tips
Vacations, parties, and outdoor recreation: Summer is the season of fun! However, the celebrations and gatherings can make maintaining a sober lifestyle a little more complex than normal. These five tips can help you think proactively about navigating stressful situations to avoid temptation and relapse.
Sober Summer Tip 1: Manage the Risks
Summer fun isn’t always without risks. Unfamiliar environments, people, and unexpected temptations are all things a person in recovery should be prepared to manage.
The new environment of a summer getaway can bring challenges for people in sobriety. While fun, the excitement of visiting somewhere new and meeting new friends can quickly become overwhelming if you aren’t mentally prepared.
The season also has unexpected temptations and “slips” of all kinds, not just with alcohol or substances. People often indulge in meals and treats or overspend on vacation activities and souvenirs. Don’t let a lapse of discipline in one area become a slippery slope, especially if others drink during activities or alcohol is served at your destination.
Sober Summer Tip 2: Strategize for Stressful Situations in Advance
Prepare in advance for how you will handle stressful or tempting situations. Use the 5 “W” question framework to help you find the right mindset before your event or activity:
- Can I bring someone to help me?
- Who are the types of people that I will be surrounded by?
- What are possible triggers?
- How will I handle cravings?
- Am I ready to handle this type of environment?
- Are there local meetings in the area?
- Do I need to attend meetings while on vacation?
- Am I avoiding something or someone?
- How long will I be on vacation?
- When will I be coming home?
Sober Summer Tip 3: Practice Saying No
…and not just to drugs and alcohol. Some activities and people will pressure you into situations that may be uncomfortable or even risky to your recovery. Your sobriety is essential to your wellbeing, and friends and family should understand its importance, too! Be prepared to say no, even if it may seem awkward or even a little hurtful. Some “No” phrases to practice include:
- I won’t be able to make it
- It’s not a good idea for me
- I already have other plans
- I appreciate you thinking of me, but…
Sober Summer Tip 4: Rely on Your Recovery Community
Summer can be tricky, especially for someone early in sobriety. During these times, you should lean on your support team and recovery community. Sponsors, coaches, and peers in recovery understand what you are going through, so do not hesitate to ask for guidance. Talk about your struggles and cravings with a counselor or sponsor and seek out meetings to reinforce the message of recovery.
Sober Summer Tip 5: Find the Fun!
The longer summer days give us more variety in daily activities, and vacations offer a break from work and responsibilities. This is a great time to reset and mentally minimize worries and stress. Focus on the present and be proud of your current place on your path to recovery. There is a reason you are sober, and that is because you put in the work to get there, celebrate!
Within that same mindset, don’t let ego or excitement get you off track. It is easy to lose focus in a new place, with new friends, or during new activities. Enjoy yourself, but always be on alert for triggers that may influence you to jeopardize your recovery.