The summer months are the time when most people take vacations, have plenty of parties or get togethers, and take day trips to the beach or lake. In summer most people normally relax and celebrate but for those in recovery it can be an especially hard time to stay sober. Events and activities like the fourth of July and summer parties mean there is plenty of booze around and a lot of opportunities to experience triggers and feelings of temptation. It may seem like there are more uncomfortable situations in summer and more times where a sober person feels left out. Instead of joining in on drinks with friends you have to watch from the sidelines and try to have a good time in spite of everything. In the midst of recovery, summer can be painful and in the worst cases it can be a danger to a person’s commitment to avoid alcohol. However, it is possible to live through summer while remaining sober and still have some fun with friends.
Staying in Touch with Goals
When you are in a situation where you feel like you wish you could join in on drinking it is a good time to think about why you made the decision to quit in the first place. Looking back on the reasons and events leading up to your recovery can help you stay in touch with your goal of being sober. If you think about how hard you have worked and what you have accomplished so far in recovery then it can help you reaffirm your commitment. Whenever you feel tempted to drink you can remember your struggles in the past and ask yourself if one beer is worth throwing all it away. An important thing to remember that can be easy to forget in the spur of the moment at a party is that for an addict it is not possible to have just one. Even have just one drink means that are off the wagon and it can quickly lead to a full relapse.
Attending a Support Group
Is summer seems especially hard, make an effort to go to more meetings and stay connected with the people in your support group. If you have a sponsor, tell them about the triggers you are experiencing at summer parties and ask them for help or advice. You can never have too many people supporting you when you are struggling with staying sober so take advantage of any resources you have. In your twelve step meetings you can talk to the group about how hard summer is for you and many of them may agree and share similar reactions. Being candid with others about your fears of relapse and feeling left out can keep those emotions from building up and becoming bigger. In your group you can talk about upcoming events that you are nervous about and they may have some insight into the best way to stay sober.
Choosing the Right People and Places
Even though you might feel obligated to attend every party or keep in touch with everyone who invites you to something, the most important thing to focus on is recovery. In many cases there may be certain people from your past that you should avoid especially if they are an old drinking buddy that is uncomfortable with or not supportive about your sobriety. Putting yourself in old situations, places or around people that you associated with binge drinking will make getting through the summer months more difficult. If you feel tempted to spend time in these situations try to analyze your motives and find out if it really is about connecting with friends or about wanting to drink again. There is nothing wrong with being honest and telling a friend that you don’t feel ready to be in a certain atmosphere yet. Try to choose activities and places where you will feel safe and comfortable as often as you can.
Getting Help from a Sober Friend
At times there will be certain events that you can’t avoid, and in this case the best option is to bring a friend from your recovery group who will act as your sober buddy. When you are with someone else who is in the same position that you are, the two of you can rely on each other to stay strong and provide support. With a sober friend there you can come up with a plan together on how to handle the party or activity if either of you feel tempted. Make sure that your friend will be comfortable in that environment too and that they are either farther along in their recovery or in a similar position. You can both talk to each other about the experience and leave early if it seems too stressful.