Last Updated on July 3, 2018 by Dr. Alberto Solà

Summer is a time of many temptations for people in recovery from addiction, and it’s very important that you stay clean and sober this summer!  On one hand, it seems as though summer would be an easy time to stay away from drugs and alcohol, since there is so much to do.  However and unfortunately, partying of this nature often seems to go hand in hand with so many summer activities.   Events like baseball games, camping, barbeques, and vacations often involve alcohol – and lots of it.  Further, there are so many celebrations to attend in the summertime.  Graduation parties often kick off the season, and are soon followed by Memorial Day parties, Fourth of July barbeques, and other parties of all kinds, eventually leading up to and culminating in Labor Day weekend events.  Each of these parties and events will likely include alcohol among their offerings, and depending on your crowd, other things too.  So, how can you stay sober this summer, especially if you are new to recovery?  Read on for motivational benefits of staying clean, and tips on how to make it work for you, while still making the most of the most exciting season of the year.

Benefits of Staying Sober This Summer

It’s always good to remember why you quit drugs and alcohol when you want to motivate yourself to continue on the straight and narrow.  Certainly, these substances took you down a very dark path, and as someone in recovery you are fully aware of the many ways your life has improved since you got help.  However, this summer, think about the following things before, during, and after your exposure to others’ consumption of the things from which you broke free.

  • You will save money. Back when you were drinking and doing drugs, you surely spent a lot of money on these things – money you could be using for bigger and better things.  In the summertime, there are so many opportunities to travel, take lessons, eat good food, and go to events with friends.  Every time you do one of these things, think about the fact that in the past, that money would have gone to things that weren’t even good for you, and realize how much better things are now.
  • You will feel better. How many summer mornings and weekends did you wake up exhausted and hungover?  How many days did you waste lying in bed recovering?  No more!  Now you can get out there and make the most of every long summer day, from dawn to dusk!
  • You will make new friends. Maybe your old friends liked to sit around watching television in a darkened room all day during the warm summer months.  What a waste of time!  Thankfully, you have no interest in doing that anymore, and instead, you can go outside and hike or or fish or play Frisbee, and in the process, you will make new friends who like to do the same.
  • Your family will enjoy your company.  Did you embarrass yourself at a family gathering when you were using?    Or maybe, you didn’t even show up at all.  Now that you are clean and sober, you are likely a pleasure to have around, and your family will once again welcome you to their Fourth of July barbeque, without being worried about which aspect of your personality may appear.
  • You will have more energy. Back when you used to consume drugs and alcohol, you may not have realized it, but they left you tired and worn out – pretty much all the time.  You will find amazing the number of hours in a day and the number of fun and exciting things you can do in a short time when you are feeling sober, healthy, and well-rested.

Tips for a Sober Summer

Unfortunately, relapse rates from drug treatment are often quite high – and although there is no way to track them exactly, as most people do not report a relapse, it’s believed that the rate of relapse is between 40-60%.   However, that also means that between 40-60% of people don’t relapse, and with the right planning, strategies, and resolve, you can ensure that you are counted in the positive side of that equation.  Here are some tips to help you stay clean and sober all summer!

  • Plan ahead. Don’t go to a party or event without a plan.  Know in advance what the scene will be like, so you will be ready for it.
  • Decline events that may be tempting. If you learn that an event will be heavy with drugs and alcohol, don’t be afraid to skip it.   Make up an excuse if you must, or, if appropriate, be honest, and suggest a future date to hang out with the host – on your terms.
  • Bring along sober friends for support. Even if you know there will be alcohol at an event, bringing along a sober friend may be all you need to stay strong.  You could bring a friend who is also in recovery, or even ask a close friend to abstain with you in solidarity.
  • Remember that there’s no such thing as just one. Don’t drop your guard.  As someone in recovery, you know that all it takes is one drink or one night of partying to put you right back where you started.  Don’t be tempted, and don’t make excuses to yourself!
  • Set limits for the amount of time spent in drinking environments. As you know, parties tend to get crazier as the night goes on, so consider just stopping by with a solid plan to leave early before things get too loose.  Have an exit strategy, and a planned time of departure, and stick to it.
  • Practice stress reduction practices. Taking time for yourself, and participating in practices such as meditation, yoga, journaling, or even just walks in the woods, can make you stronger, and can prepare you for anything.
  • Be honest with yourself and others. If you are feeling uncomfortable in any situation, feel it and own it.  If you need to leave, leave.  Don’t hesitate to tell others how you are feeling and why you feel that way.
  • Brainstorm fun activities that do not involve drugs or alcohol. There are literally thousands if not millions of things you can do for fun that do not involve drugs or alcohol. Plan them, invite friends along, and commit to doing them.
  • Don’t over plan and stay stress free. Be careful not to schedule yourself too heavily.  Take time to just enjoy each day, and don’t get stressed out.
  • Go to meetings. Your best strategy for staying clean and sober is to lean on your support systems for help when you need it.  Support groups and group therapy can both be excellent things to help keep you on the right track.
  • Make sobriety your top priority. Your health and a sober future are the most important things.  Do whatever you need to do to keep them that way.

With the right plans and good strategies, you can stay clean and sober this summer!  Just plan ahead, be ready for anything, and make the choices you know are right.  Be honest with yourself and seek help and support when you need it.  You can do it!

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