Benefits of Being Sober: Summer Guide
As summer approaches, it’s wise to keep in mind how the celebratory atmosphere, frequent parties and holidays (like Fourth of July) impact recovery from alcohol and drug use. Some people may reflect on the good times spent with friends and family in the summer, or crazy nights where alcohol and drug use featured a huge part. Whether you have memories from family gatherings, sporting events, the beach, vacations or bars, what you recall is often biased toward the positive experiences. Remember: if you are recovering, you must stick to your recovery program, therapy, treatments and any regimen you established. Don’t let the summer be an opportunity for relapse.
To refresh why it’s important to stay sober during the summer, here are a few reasons:
- Be in the present moment – When you’re sober, you can really enjoy yourself. You can rejoice knowing you’re appreciating every waking moment and truly respecting the people around you with your undivided attention.
- Gain confidence socially – When you’re under the influence, you may feel like talking to a bunch of people (or none at all), but the intention may be misleading. Would you normally reach out to others? When you choose to be sober, you can make decisions to go out of your comfort zone to talk to strangers. When you develop social skills naturally, you’ll gain the self-confidence to boot.
- You’ll remember – You don’t have to battle your memory of last night’s rampage, picking out the good details and suppressing the bad ones. Instead, you can take all of it in, good and bad, knowing you were fully attentive and engaged.
- You’ll save money – Did you consider how much money you spend on happy hour and drugs, even when you get discounts? Not only do the drugs and/or alcohol cost money—you may be more likely to spend recklessly while under the influence. Invest your money in fun, such as a new Xbox or trip abroad. Don’t throw it away on an expensive daily habit.
- Go on more adventures – When you’re addicted, you may stay inside and feel self-pity. When you’re in recovery, you can plan more fun. It’s easier to plan when you have a clear head on your shoulders and a sense of direction, not a feeling of isolation and total loneliness so common of an addiction experience.
- You’ll have more friends – Instead of friends that stick around as long as you party, you’ll have friends that like to see you succeed. You can meet new people and plan new fun, while knowing the difference between ‘friends’ who pressure you to get high and the ones who respect your recovery.
- You’ll be true to yourself – Instead of having substance use impact the way you feel and relate to others, you’ll have the opportunity to make your own decisions based on what you want.
Are you worried about how the summer will go? All progress is not lost. Here are a few tips for enjoying summer while in recovery:
- Avoid people pleasing, which can lead to drug and alcohol consumption.
- Plan activities that do not involve intoxication, such as going to the movies, going to the gym or visiting a bookstore.
- Have your own form of transportation, in case people plan a late night, you get aggravated and you develop cravings to cope.
- Be transparent with others about how you feel, so you don’t bottle up your emotions and damage your relationships.
- Spend time with people who are good for you (respect and support you), not people who are ‘toxic’ or abusive toward you.
- Have friends who you can rely on during moments of weakness, so if you are at an event, you can reach out and tell them you are struggling.
- Try a new hobby, like joining a class, gardening or journaling; anything that keeps your mind off drugs and alcohol and has you feeling productive and balanced is game!
- Avoid events you’re invited to whose main focus is drug and/or alcohol consumption—you should have friends who do not pressure you into spending time around triggers.
Sobriety on Vacation
Are you planning on going out of town for a rewarding break? You deserve it, despite the high risk for relapse. Here are some tips for when you’re on vacation:
- Set clear expectations about the vacation. When you communicate what kind of vacation you plan to have, the people accompanying you are more likely to respect your needs.
- Take breaks! You should sleep a full 8 hours, eat healthy and exercise everyday. When you skimp on any healthy habits, your energy levels and moods plummet. Balance is key.
- Focus on your itinerary! If you don’t have one, set one! When you’re focused on all the fun you’re going to have, you don’t have time to schedule in drugs and/or alcohol.
- Don’t isolate yourself! What this means is, don’t use vacation to cut ties with people that help you recover. Keep connected to people who are supporting you. Even messaging a few friends back home can help.
- Stay positive! You may feel crappy watching other people sip cocktails, but you can always order non-alcoholic versions or tea-based drinks. Remember why you’re in recovery and how your relationship to drugs and/or alcohol is different. Respect you!
- Choose your vacation carefully. Choose to go to destinations where drug and/or alcohol use is not a huge feature. You might choose Seattle over a tour of Napa Valley.
- Prepare for setbacks! Your friend may miss their flight, or your family might get fight. When you go into vacation with the mindset that you’ll overcome the challenges you face and still have fun, you’re more likely to come out knowing you did the best you could and enjoyed yourself.