For many recovering addicts and alcoholics, staying sober can prove to be harder than receiving treatment. An estimated 40 to 60 percent of addicts and alcoholics who receive treatment relapse before their first anniversary of sobriety.
And the summer can be a tough time to stay sober. The longer, warmer, sunnier days mean more social events and activities where alcohol is involved.
If you’re a recovering addict, getting through the summer sober can be a challenge. Here are ten tips on how to stay strong and maintain your sobriety.
1. Get Outside and Exercise
Exercise is important for substance abuse recovery because it can give you feelings of being high as your body produces feel-good endorphins. It also helps you stay focused on something that has nothing to do with drinking or taking drugs. When you join a group that revolves around sports or physical activity, socializing with other people can help you make new friends and find new meaning in your life.
There’s no better time to start a new exercise routine than the summer. If you’re looking to stay sober, get outside and take a walk, ride your bike, or explore a park or trail. Or try a new outdoor activity such as paddle boarding or archery.
You’ll boost your self-esteem, keep cravings at bay, and create a healthy routine that’s good for your physical and mental health.
2. Avoid Places That May Trigger You
Whether it’s a bar that you used to frequent or a beachfront restaurant that’s known for its tropical cocktails, some places are going to remind you of your former life. It’s best to avoid any venue or location that could trigger you and entice you to start drinking or using again.
Even if alcohol is nowhere to be found, some places are best avoided if they could drudge up bad memories that may tempt you to turn to drugs or alcohol for comfort.
3. Have an Emergency Contact or Two
Whether it’s your sponsor, a friend, or family member, keep an emergency contact number saved in your phone so you have someone to turn to when you’re tempted to use drugs or alcohol. Even if you never have to call them, knowing you have someone you can trust to talk you off the ledge can bring you peace of mind and help you stick to a sober lifestyle.
4. Bring a Trusted Friend to Social Events
In addition to having someone you can talk to, bring a good friend who wants to help you stay sober with you to social gatherings where alcohol is present. They can give you confidence and encouragement as you navigate social situations where other people are drinking.
Have a favorite mocktail or two in mind that you can order so that you’ll feel more comfortable when in the presence of other guests that are drinking.
5. Fill up Free Time
Boredom and having too much free time can be dangerous for recovering addicts. It’s too easy to begin feeling resentful about past events and become tempted to drink or use drugs when you’re not staying busy. Turn to healthy activities such as volunteering, taking an adult education class, picking up a hobby, and even cleaning and organizing your home.
Even getting a side gig is a healthy activity to take up extra hours in the day (and earn some money). This doesn’t mean you should never have any downtime for yourself; you just want to be sure you don’t have so much of it that you get bored.
6. Book an Alcohol-Free Vacation or Day Trip
It may be time to get a change of scenery for a while and book a trip that doesn’t revolve around alcohol. Tour groups such as Sober Vacations International and GoNOMAD Travel organize trips that focus on healthy physical activities in scenic locations without the availability of alcohol. You’ll connect with like-minded people who are most likely in recovery too.
If a trip is out of reach financially, these travel organizations also host local day excursions such as alcohol-free river cruises and bicycle tours.
7. Attend More Support Group Meetings
If possible, you may want to increase the frequency of your support group meeting attendance to help encourage you to stay sober. Being surrounded by others who know what you’re going through can help you resist temptation.
In addition to joining Alcoholics Anonymous and other support groups, you may want to consider turning to mental health services for help conquering the depression and anxiety that can also come with a sober lifestyle. Sessions can often be held over the computer in addition to in-person.
8. Plan Your Social Events
There’s no reason why you can’t host your fun summer events without alcohol. Invite friends for a game of frisbee in a park, plan a golf outing, or host a backyard barbecue. Buy non-alcoholic beer or other beverages for yourself.
9. Try to Enjoy The Summer
Summer only comes once a year and it goes by way too fast for most of us. Just because you’re maintaining a sober lifestyle doesn’t mean you can’t have fun like everyone else.
Savor the warmer, longer days by trying new activities and visiting new places that have nothing to do with drugs or alcohol.
10. Celebrate Each New Day
Be good to yourself as you enter this phase of life. Celebrate each new day of sobriety and don’t forget to practice self-care. Make sure you’re eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, and dealing with stress in healthy ways.
Keep Your Sobriety This Summer and Beyond
Maintaining your sobriety during the summer may require a lot of extra effort on your part. However, once you complete your first summer sober you may find the cooler months and subsequent summer seasons to be a lot less difficult.
For more tips on maintaining sobriety and to always feel your best, browse our health and fitness archive of articles.