Summer can be an exciting season, as it often means time off from our usual work, school, and routines. The warm weather motivates many people to have outdoor outings, and the holidays offer opportunities for friendly gatherings.
However, the season also comes with some challenges for people in recovery. The break to your normal routine can increase stress, and might make it harder to contact supportive people.Many otherwise fun gatherings with friends may provide an opportunity to relapse.
However, with some careful preparation, awareness, and compassion for yourself, it is possible to navigate those challenges. Here are a few tips on how to maintain your sobriety and have a summer filled with fun and meaningful experiences.
Hold on to your goals
For many, summer vacation can be a time to relax and let your guard down. Living out each day in stress and routine gets tiring, and a break can be an important way to refresh yourself so you can pursue life with more vigor.
However, with addiction this attitude can have a distressing downside. In an unfamiliar setting, apart from your normal routine, you may experience new temptations you aren't prepared for. Some people may behave in more reckless ways on vacation, being more likely to try something or relapse "just this once," because it's a special and unfamiliar place. You might also be alone, and feel lost and lonely. For these reasons, summer can be a vulnerable time for old habits to come back.
For that reason, it is imperative that you hold on to your goals to remain sober. Remind yourself of what you really want, and of how harmful your past life used to be. Practice strengthening the part of you that wants sobriety, until you start to hear that voice speaking louder than the temptations.
Evaluate your environment
Be aware of your vulnerabilities and relapse triggers. Walking into a bar or by a place where drugs are sold, being in a place where people are drinking or using drugs, or even interacting with addicted people can sometimes create temptations. Even if there are no direct triggers, an entire day at the beach with friends can sometimes get unexpectedly exhausting. Recognize your vulnerabilities, and feel free to say no to a social engagement, or leave early, if you find the pressure too much to bear.
If you do decide to go to a social engagement, recognize the risk and think about the steps you can take to set yourself up for success. If you are offered drugs or alcohol be prepared to decline politely but firmly. Bringing non-alcoholic drinks, giving yourself time to rest before and afterwards, and taking along a friend who can offer accountability and support are all good ways to gain control in the situation.
Keep getting support from others
Your support group meetings and interactions with supportive friends are more important now than ever. Don't let being in a new place or with an irregular schedule be an excuse to avoid seeking help. Summer can be a good time to try going to different groups, either with different organizations, or even in a different part of town. Each group is a little different, so you might find something especially helpful.
It helps to be aware and prepared for the hard things about summer, but the sober life is more than struggle. Summer also provides unparalleled opportunities to have fun. Take advantage of the warm temperatures to get outside more, playing a sport or going on a nature hike.
Enjoy your time off reading a book or learning a new creative activity. Finding new ways to enjoy life can help you feel fulfilled and energized for life, so that you slowly learn the truth that you don't really need drugs or alcohol.