10 Tips for Staying Sober in the Summer

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10 Tips for Staying Sober in the Summer

By Beth Leipholtz 07/21/17

For many people in recovery from alcoholism, including myself, summer can be a tough time to abstain from drinking.

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Young adults having summer fun on beach
Incorporate some of these tips into your summer fun to help ensure you stay sober.

Though I’ve been through four sober summers, I’m not immune to the spell summertime can cast on my mind. Sometimes when I’m on the water with friends, with the sun shining, I look around and think, “Man, an ice cold drink would be nice right about now. Just one would do it.” But then I snap back to reality and remember that one drink is never just one for me.

For many people in recovery from alcoholism, including myself, summer can be a tough time to abstain from drinking alcohol. It seems that alcohol is at the center of many summer activities, including bonfires, lake days, weddings and concerts. Summertime is viewed as a time to relax, and for many, drinking alcohol is considered a relaxing activity. The temptation to drink at summer events like this can be strong, so it’s important to have some tools to turn to when you wish you could drink.

Here are some of my favorites:

  1. Balance your summertime activities. One tool I find helpful as I enter my fifth summer of sobriety is to make sure I always have balance. I find that when I attend many drinking-centered events, it becomes harder to stay sober and be content in recovery. It’s important for those of us who are sober but okay being around alcohol to still seek balance. If you know you’ll be attending events with alcohol, such as weddings and concerts, be sure to also add other types of events to your calendar. Some good suggestions are races, gym visits, sober date nights or a book club.
  1. Come up with creative drinks that don’t include alcohol. One of the most helpful tips I’ve gotten in recovery is to always have a drink when at a social event. That way, no one will offer you an alcoholic one. I like to shake it up, as I get bored of drinking the same thing time and time again. Pinterest is a great resource for searching for “mocktail” recipes. There are also great options out there in terms of sparkling water, if you want to opt for a healthy yet tasty option.
  1. Have an emergency contact. In other words, just have someone you can call or reach out to if you find yourself in a place where you feel tempted to drink. Sometimes some outside support and input can be eye-opening and snap you back to reality.
  1. Pay attention to your feelings. Sobriety looks different for everyone. For some, the summer may be difficult and for others it could be an easy time for recovery. The important thing is that you take the time to recognize whether or not you are having a hard time, and if so, what type of plan you can come up with to maintain your recovery to the best of your ability.
  1. Avoid places you know are triggers for you. Sometimes, being around certain people and places makes it even more difficult to maintain sobriety. This could be because these are places you often drank and people you drank with, which makes you associate alcohol with them. If in the same atmosphere sober, you may feel very uncomfortable. Triggers aren’t an issue for everyone, but it’s important to consider whether they may be for you.
  1. Have a game plan if someone does offer you a drink. Though the hope is that people won’t offer you a drink if you already have one in hand, that’s not always the case. It’s important to have a response ready if someone offers you a drink and pushes it after you decline. When this happens, I often just tell people the truth, which is that I no longer drink. (Or you can always opt for humor: "I'm allergic - when I drink alcohol, I break out in handcuffs.") But if it’s not a good time or place to get into it, I just tell them I am driving or that I am watching my health and have cut out alcohol. Normal drinkers are usually understanding of these explanations.
  1. Indulge in self-care. Remembering to take care of yourself and not wear yourself too thin is vital for recovery, especially in the summertime. I tend to burn myself out much faster when the weather is nice and there’s so much going on. Sometimes I have to step back and take a day for myself to regroup. I like to write and clean, but self-care looks different for everyone. Find an activity that refreshes and relaxes you, leaving your mind clear.
  1. Spend time with sober friends. Though non-sober friends can be supportive and understanding of your choice to not drink, it’s still important to spend time with people who are in the same position as you. Whether you spend one-on-one time with them or simply go to an event together, it’s refreshing to simply be with someone who gets it.
  1. If free time is triggering for you, make plans to fill it. Though some people work full time in the summer, others do not. For many, free time is a huge trigger and opens the door to drinking. For this reason, it’s important to have hobbies and activities to fill this free time. Find something you are passionate about and spend time doing that rather than wishing you could drink.
  1. Learn to enjoy your own company. Sometimes being around people and alcohol in the summer is simply too much for me, yet I don’t want to sit at home by myself and isolate either. So I’ve learned to enjoy my own company, whether it be going for a run, exploring a new park, or sitting in a coffee shop on my own. There is nothing wrong with doing things by yourself to clear your mind.

Though summer may not be difficult for everyone, it definitely is the most triggering season for some. This is why it’s important to think ahead and have a game plan for the summer months. This plan may look different for different people, as everyone has their own methods of staying sober. The important thing is that you think through all situations and know how you plan to handle temptation and make sobriety a priority.

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Beth is a Minnesota girl who got sober at age 20. By day she is a website designer, and in her spare time she enjoys writing about recovery at www.lifetobecontinued.com, doing graphic design and spending time with her boyfriend and three dogs. Find Beth on LinkedInInstagram and Twitter.

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