Some addicts find it particularly difficult to stay clean over the summer. The warm, sunny weather and long days encourage people to come out and stay out. This may have been a time where you used heavily as well, so the sounds, sights and smells of summer may take you back to your past. With summer holidays in abundance, there is a spike in alcohol and social gatherings. The hot weather can also make you thirsty, which makes alcohol more appealing. Although summer has its unique challenges, staying clean and sober is completely possible and achievable with a few simple steps.
Acknowledge Summer Triggers
Whether you’re newly recovered or have been sober for years, it’s important to acknowledge the unique challenges that surface during the summertime. With more gatherings, barbecues and holidays that go hand-in-hand with drinking, you’ll find more temptation. Knowing this, keep your expectations realistic. If you know that people will be hanging around the pubs, don’t drive past them at night. If the annual family picnic involves a steady supply of alcohol, visit your family at a different time.
If you’re honest about the temptations that lie ahead, then you can make the best choices for your recovery. While it’s best to take things one day at a time, it’s a healthy step to decline the events that you’re not ready to attend. This takes the pressure off of you from having to make a decision later on, and you don’t have to go back and forth in your options. If you know that a particular event will have drinking as its main attraction, politely decline and move on to healthier outings this summer.
Have an Exit Strategy
Sometimes, alcohol accidentally becomes the main attraction at gatherings. Maybe someone steps in with a case of beer, or perhaps you find that the temptations are stronger than you thought. Always, always have an exit strategy. You don’t want to risk everything you’ve worked for just to fit in or have a good time. Have a friend on call or a message that you can text a family member in a pinch. Involving someone else ensures that you make it home safely.
Actively Participate in Your Recovery Groups
You may need additional support from your 12-step or support groups at this time. Ask others in your group about the strategies they use to get through the summer months. There are also online support groups and forums that keep you connected to others. If you’ll be traveling, you may want to check out AA groups in the area that you can attend to keep on track with your recovery goals. Also, reminding yourself that many others are going through the same struggles is invaluable, especially during a time where it feels like everyone else is having fun.
Stay Healthy and Hydrated
If there’s one positive thing about summer for you, it’s the fact that there are plenty of tasty fruits and veggies to eat, plus sunny weather to get outdoors and stay active. By keeping on top of your diet and exercise goals, you will fight off temptation in the best way possible. Don’t forget to stay hydrated with plenty of water, and make time for daily physical activity, even if it’s a simple walk after dinner. The more you stick to being healthy, the easier it will be to make healthy choices.
Keep Your Friends Close
By now, you know who your true friends and family are. You know the ones that will do everything to support your recovery. Rely on these individuals to help you through the summer. They’re not the ones who will be drinking or using drugs in front of you, so if you’re feeling out of the loop, do something with them! And, if you’re planning on attending a few get-togethers this summer, bring your support pal with you. They will be your motivation as you turn down drinks and stick to your goals.
Make Time for Fun
Some addicts feel like they don’t know how to have fun without drugs or alcohol in the summer. But, you WILL learn to find happiness in the simple things again, whether it’s seeing a drive-in movie, going for a bike ride or getting away from it all on a remote camping adventure. Don’t think that you need to sit in the house all summer long. There are many things that you can do to enjoy the summer and have a fulfilled recovery. The goal is to choose activities where alcohol will not be the focal point, and to select supportive, healthy people to be around.