Summertime comes and suddenly fear strikes, “how are we going to stay sober!?”
The thought of summer may conjure up visions of your drinking and using days. Beer at a baseball game? That’s not an option anymore. Drug-filled road trips for summer break? Definitely out of the question. Putting your health, financial security, and relationships in jeopardy due to addiction? You’re free from that, too! So how can you have a great time and keep your sobriety–both physical and emotional–in the summer months ahead?
If this is your first summer sober and are nervous about the prospects, we have some solutions!
Here are some strategies to anticipate and avoid trouble all the while safeguarding your sanity.
Be prepared for kids out of school
The first sober summer, be prepared for changes when your kids are off school. Be patient with yourself and your kids. You might have a shorter temper than usual, or you may be more prone to depression with the change of the schedule and increased family demands. Help yourself by asking for help. Find support in 12-step meetings, talk to other parents in recovery and rely on your support network as necessary. Remember to take time for your sobriety each day. Read literature, call sober friends and take quiet time to meditate. This time isn’t selfish, or neglectful of your family, it means you are working to be a better parent and more available to your children in the long run.
Be prepared if you’ll be out of school
College or High School provides structure and is a source of accountability. Often we find a rhythm on campus and a sober community. Summer break may mean returning home, sometimes thousands of miles away from our sober safety net. Plan ahead! Look at the meeting schedule in your hometown and commit to a meeting the day after you return. Get phone numbers of sober people right away and make an effort to build a local network. Two months is a mighty long time to fly solo. You don’t have to do this alone, but you do need to let people know you need help. Oftentimes having a set structure each day can contribute to a sense of well-being and security that is helpful in early sobriety. Get up at the same time each day and make your bed.
Rethink your playmates.
If your buddies love to play sloshball on the weekends, it might be time to find a new team. Join an organized sport that doesn’t serve alcohol at the home plate. The consistent exercise will raise your serotonin levels and the camaraderie from a team will provide the basis for healthy new relationships. If your ladies meet each week for ‘book club’ to drink wine and gossip, take a break from the group for a while. Being sober doesn’t mean cutting off your friend group, but it does mean recognizing what activities will be potential triggers for you and creating alternative activities.
Plan ahead for holidays and events
Summer means 4th of July, weddings, backyard BBQs, graduation parties, and more. All these events can be fun, but they can also be stressful in early sobriety. Be gentle with yourself. Provide yourself the opportunity to succeed. Planning ahead goes along way in staying sober.
- Bring fun, non-alcoholic drinks to every event so you are never empty handed.
- Make sure you get plenty of rest before big social engagements.
- Eat a filling and healthy meal, and bring snacks if you’ll be out late.
- Talk to your sponsor or support group prior to heading into a situation that makes you nervous and let them know why.
These instructions seem so simple but they are true beyond a doubt: If we are Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired (H.A.L.T.) we need to pause and take care of ourselves. Don’t underestimate the power of hunger or exhaustion to put you over the edge.
Accountability goes a long way in keeping you sober.
In short, you can have a wonderful, fun-filled, sober summer. You don’t have to change your activities and become a hermit, but you should take steps to take care of yourself. Above all, ask for support. It gives others the chance to be of service and it helps you become more engaged in your recovery. Try your local 12-step group or contact the Pat Moore Foundation 24 hours a day for help and support.