There are few people in this world who don’t look forward to summer with extreme anticipation. We’re sure you’ve already made fun summer plans with your kids, coworkers, friends, and other family members — and that’s wonderful! You deserve to enjoy the summer sun as much as possible!
However, if you’ve struggled with substance addiction in the past and are working to maintain your sobriety, summer can present a few challenges that other seasons do not. Luckily, by understanding those challenges, how they come about, and creating a smart game plan, you can stay sober during summer and continue to live your best life.
Why It’s Harder to Stay Sober During Summer
The most basic of reasons, the longer the day is, the longer you’ll have to stay strong against temptation. Since the sun sets later during the summer, you’ll have to spend a few extra hours of daylight fighting temptation.
While most adults don’t have “summer vacation” like children do, when the season hits, you still happen to plan a lot more activities with your family and friends. Between the kids being home from school and all the social gatherings and activities that summer brings, some adults can find themselves overwhelmed and exhausted. This can lead to taking stimulants to keep up with everything; and one or two uses can quickly lead to addiction.
More Alcohol-Related Social Gatherings
While alcohol-related activities can happen year-round, summer brings them out in abundance. Happy Hours, backyard barbecues, Memorial Day, the Fourth of July — the list goes on. With more of these events filling your calendar, you can be faced with more temptation during the summer.
And unfortunately, these events are not limited to just your free time. In an effort to foster a more positive office culture, many companies will host weekly happy hours, either at the office or a nearby bar. This can lead to someone finding themselves having a few too many for their own good.
Vacations Support Substance Use
Many people plan vacations that strictly involve sitting on a beach with a cocktail in-hand for a week straight. Other trips, especially those in other cultures or areas of the world, encourage the use of recreational drugs.
When those on the path of sobriety find themselves on these vacations, they can be much more tempted to use.
Music Festivals and Concerts
Summer weather provides the perfect setting for attending music festivals and concerts. However, these events typically tend to involve alcohol or drugs in one way or another. Some genres support tailgating and drinking early in the day, while others can involve taking recreational drugs or smoking marijuana.
You can still enjoy attending concerts, but you should be aware of the temptations you may face while there in order to stay strong.
How to Stay Sober During Summer
Pay Attention to Your Emotions
Oftentimes, adults will turn to alcohol and drugs when they feel stressed, upset, angry, or some other negative emotion. The changing summer weather can affect your emotions and mental state and tempt you to use, as can a busy summer calendar and longer days, so it’s important to be self-aware and take note of when your emotions may tempt you to drink or use drugs.
Take a few minutes to really think about your recovery journey so far. Have you recently just gotten sober and are still adjusting to the life changes necessary to maintain your sobriety, or have you been sober for a few years and gotten comfortable with the steps needed to steer clear of your old substance(s) of choice?
By being self-aware and accepting where you are on your journey, you can best plan to attend (or not attend) certain events, create proper plans if you’re going to be around drugs or alcohol, and best maintain your sobriety.
Balance Your Schedule
It’s completely fine to have a calendar filled with fun activities like beach trips, BBQs, weddings, and concerts, but it’s important to balance those activities with ones that don’t involve alcohol or drugs.
Whether you’re heading out on vacation or just staying home, plan regular sober activities such as:
Hikes or bike rides
For every wedding you have this summer, plan a hiking trip; for every BBQ, go to the gym a few times that week. Balancing your schedule can help keep you on the straight and narrow all summer long.
Ignore the FOMO
FOMO (fear of missing out) can affect anyone, whether or not alcohol or drugs are involved. If you think you’re not ready to attend “Summer Friday Happy Hours” with your colleagues at the office and be able to abstain from drinking, don’t go.
Even if you think you’ll miss out on some stories or networking opportunities, remember that your sobriety is much more important. There will also be another office outing, and you can attend those events when you are confident you will not be tempted to drink.
Have a Gameplan
If you are going to an event that may have alcohol or drugs present, make a game plan for how you’re going to stay sober and avoid temptation. Your plan may include:
Ensuring you have a sober friend at the event.
Bring your own non-alcoholic drink so no one offers you an alcohol one.
Give yourself a proposed time as to when you’ll leave the event, especially if you begin feeling tempted to drink.
Get the Help You Need at Silver Ridge
If you find that staying sober during summer is too difficult to do on your own, you should seek professional help.
Silver Ridge specializes in providing clinically effective addiction treatment for professional adults suffering from substance abuse issues. The Silver Ridge program focuses on the well-being of the whole person by providing a safe place free from the pain of addiction through the encouragement of personal exploration and therapeutic practices. Contact us today to speak to one of our addiction counselors.