Guide To A Sober Summer & Having Drug-Free Fun
Staying sober and drug-free during summer brings its own challenges. As soon as the sun makes an appearance, it can seem like everyone around you is having BBQs, partying or holidaying. Seasonal festivals and summer events can naturally be awash with alcohol and drugs. However, if you are sober and in recovery or sober curious, this doesn't mean you have to lock yourself away!
Staying alcohol and drug-free during the warm summer months can be simple, providing you approach it with a positive attitude and take some simple steps. Remember that Recoverlution is always here to support you with on-demand professional guidance, recovery meetings and online support.
Staying Sober and Drug-Free at Summer Festivals
One of the more obvious summer events that can challenge recovery is summer festivals. Festivals are notorious places where people drink and take drugs to excess. However, does this mean that you need to avoid going and miss out on an amazing day out? , not so!
If you are early in recovery, we do recommend that you avoid festivals and places where alcohol and drugs are a big part of the event. However, if you have been sober for a while and want to experience the music and atmosphere, there is no reason you shouldn't go - just put adequate measures in place first.
Maintaining sobriety and recovery often requires planning, especially when you know you are going to be in a place where temptation is about.
Here are our top suggestions for staying sober at a summer festival or music event:
- Invite others in recovery to go with you, there is safety in numbers
- Have a getaway plan if you feel uneasy, and ensure you have access to travel or a taxi on speed dial
- Take your own drinks if they will allow it, or at least a lidded drinks container you can pour your drink into. This prevents anyone from tampering with it or accidentally picking up someone else's drink
- If you are near drug users or can smell cannabis strongly, move to another area
- Have recovery support on your phone, such as a sponsor, sober friend or the Recoverlution app
- Take a phone charger or power bank with you, so that if your phone dies you can still charge it to make calls
- Make sure you eat. An empty stomach can induce sugar cravings which can be mistaken for alcohol cravings
- Check your motives before you go with a recovery mentor, friend or sponsor. Are you sure your recovery is on firm ground? Do you have a recovery programme? Are you white-knuckling it? If your recovery isn't solid, you are taking a big and unnecessary risk
For some in recovery, attending festivals isn't a great threat to their recovery. However, such people usually have a great support system in place, have changed their thinking with regard to substances, have time under their belt, and, have a solid recovery programme.
If you are a person who is experimenting with sobriety or is sober curious, attending such events will likely test your resolve. This could be telling if you have a problem or not.
Attending BBQs and Family Get-togethers
Family get-togethers and BBQs with friends are more common during the warm and bright summer months. They can be a great opportunity to have some fun and spend quality time with those you love. Unfortunately, these events also often have alcohol in abundance and cannabis or weed can also be present.
The obvious solution is to take your own alcohol-free drinks. However, as this is the ultimate guide to staying sober during summer, we will delve a little deeper here.
Whether or not you can be tempted to drink or take drugs at summer events can depend on a number of factors, including:
- Do the people going know and respect that you are in recovery, or not drinking and using?
- Will drugs likely be there that could cause temptation or be offered to you?
- Are there people going that you have resentment towards, or that you are frightened of seeing?
- Is there potential for an argument to break out once everyone starts drinking?
- Will old drinking friends or dealers be there?
- Are your family and friends supportive of your choices around recovery?
You see, it is not just the fact that alcohol or drugs can be present at these events but the people going also. Feeling uncomfortable, fearful or resentful can all contribute to relapse - if you don't deal with the issue promptly.
If any of the above is likely to be an issue at a BBQ or get-together, we strongly recommend speaking with someone in recovery that you trust, prior to attending.
Having a getaway excuse and plan is also essential. As soon as you start to feel uncomfortable, it's time to make your excuses and leave. Remember, only you are ultimately responsible for your own recovery and well-being
Embrace The Opportunity To Do What You Love and Try New Things.
Whether this is your first sober summer or your umpteenth, it is an opportunity to grow and implement further positive change in your recovery. Every single day is an opportunity to learn something new or try something new, and there is no better time than summer to get outside and do this.
Some activities you might want to try during a sober summer include:
- Have a sober holiday: If you have never had a sober holiday, you are missing out. A sober holiday can be remembered for a lifetime. In active addiction, every day tends to become groundhog day. A sober holiday is an opportunity to create new beautiful memories that you can treasure for the rest of your life.
- Learn a new skill or hobby: Water can be extremely comforting for those that are confident in it. If you don't know how to swim, why not learn? If you have never paddle-boarded or rowed a boat down a river, why not join a local group and try?
- Tap into your creative side: Summer always makes things brighter, more colourful and often more vibrant. Let your creative juices flow, try sitting outside with a sketchbook or a canvas and pallet. Capture the beauty of summer in your own creative way. If you don't know where or how to start there are plenty of art groups and courses you can join.
- Get out in nature: Nature has such healing properties and gives you the space to reflect or plan your day. Whether it's half an hour in a garden with your morning coffee or watching a sunset on the beach, nature encourages being present in the moment, without the distraction of phones or other devices.
- Play: Often we can forget how to play or how to have fun. We can get bogged down in day-to-day chores, bills, work and responsibilities. Making time to mess about and be a kid again is fun and can be exhilarating. Get the water guns out or play a game of rounders. These are fun and cheap activities that invite light and laughter into your life.
Dealing with Euphoric Recall
Euphoric recall is a well-known occurrence among many addiction recovery groups. Euphoric recall puts a rose-tinted spin on memories of the past, negating to recall of the negative consequences that followed. When this happens a person is at risk of relapse if they have no mental defence or plan in place to cope.
Despite all the negative consequences of your drinking or using, you may find yourself reminiscing about the “good old days” or fantasising about a cold pint in a beer garden during the hot summer months. This can make staying sober during summer extremely difficult, especially if it is a frequent occurrence. Even if you do resist, these memories and images can plague you, pulling you away from any present enjoyment in your life and convincing you that “this time will be different”.
Euphoric recall is dangerous...but it doesn't have to be disastrous. It happens due to the long-lasting changes in the brain that occur during the formation of an addiction.
The best way to deal with euphoric recall, is, once again, to have a plan, and we have some valuable recommendations to suggest that may well help in such situations
Tips On Dealing With Euphoric Recall And Staying Sober During Summer:
Call someone in recovery you trust:
Discuss your thoughts and the images in your head with someone else. Let the other person help you to put a rational spin on things. If they have known you long enough, they may well know the reasons that brought you into recovery in the first place, and be able to remind you of these. If they are experienced in their own recovery, they may well share with you similar thoughts and feelings but also be able to tell you the truth of what would happen should you believe your mind.
Call a sponsor, mentor or counsellor:
Call someone who is backing your recovery and understands how the mind works in addiction. Often, when these thoughts happen, to any great degree, there is something within us that we are failing to look at or acknowledge. It is the mind's way of escaping reality. A sponsor, mentor or counsellor will be able to help you get to what is causing these thoughts to happen with any depth or frequency. Connecting with someone who has more experience will give you the opportunity to air your feelings but also look at the truth underlying them.
Play the tape forward:
If you catch yourself daydreaming about the great times of the past, playing the tape forward can help to smash the delusion. What if you did have that one pint in the beer garden? Where would it likely lead based on your past experience? How would you feel afterwards? Is it worth risking everything you have built in recovery? For many in recovery, they can see that they wouldn't stop at that one pint, one spliff, or one sniff. Their experience tells them it would be the start of another bender.
Get to a recovery meeting:
If you have no one to call, it's time to expand your support with a recovery community and programme. Being with like-minded others offers unrivalled benefits, the main one being that you are no longer alone.
Follow A Recovery Programme For The Best Summer Yet
Recovery programmes are designed, not so much to help you stop the drink or drugs, but to help you live a happy and sober life. Whilst some people can just stop using or drinking when there is sufficient reason to, those suffering from addiction can feel just as hopeless, anxious and depressed as when they were using substances.
Engaging in a recovery programme such as SMART Recovery or 12 Step, can help to change your thinking completely. These programmes provide you with structured support and a toolkit that can help you feel safe and protected in your recovery. Professional help is also often very effective in helping to deal with past traumas, mental health illness, and the driving forces that underly addiction.
If you are worried that your own resolve to stay sober this summer won't be enough, reaching out to other services can save you a lot of psychological pain. Recovery from addiction is a miracle in itself but it is very rarely achieved alone.
Join our free recovery platform for online recovery groups, events, community, meetings and tools that you can access anywhere and anytime. We are here to support you as we all enjoy a sober summer together.