Over the summer, maintaining sobriety can be extra challenging. Just as holidays, special events, and even time with family members can be filled with triggers for recovering alcoholics, so can summer events. Summer activities tend to be more casual and laid back and, all too often, centered around alcohol. When people talk about camping, going to music festivals or hanging out on the beach, it seems as if alcohol is an expected component.
As the summer weather heats up, advertising seems to focus on relaxing and cooling down with an alcoholic beverage. A study done in 2016 by the Rand Corporation found that American kids as young as 11 years old are seeing about 3 ads for alcohol each day. For adults, not only are we exposed to this same advertising, but it’s also a common topic that comes up around the workplace.
Peyton Harrison, Jr., a reporter with the Times of San Diego writes, “…look at any beer or liquor manufacturer’s social media page this summer and it becomes obvious the industry giants are working hard to convince us that their product belongs in every recreational aspect of our lives.” We are constantly bombarded with seductive ads of happy, active people drinking while enjoying their summer.
Just because others believe they can only enjoy summer activities while drinking alcohol, it doesn’t mean that’s the only way to have fun in the sun. Recovering alcoholics can still go places where there will be a lot of people drinking, but must make maintaining sobriety their highest priority, and let other people know that it’s your priority. If you’re going to be in situations where many are drinking alcohol, it’s a good idea to have a friend with you who also abstains from alcohol and understands and supports your sobriety. Bring your own beverages so you can control what you’re drinking. You should also have the number of your sponsor or accountability buddy with you, and never hesitate to use the number if necessary. And if you don’t feel safe or comfortable, don’t be shy about leaving.
If you feel unsure or uncomfortable about attending an activity where drinking will take place, it may be best to make alternate plans. Avoiding places, people, certain events, or anything else that might be a trigger for you can be a much safer and more enjoyable option.
Consider a sober holiday. There are companies that specialize in alcohol-free vacations. Travel Sober is one such company that helps people find great ways to have fun that are completely alcohol-free. These trips help recovering alcoholics connect to others, attend meetings, learn from great recovery speakers, and simply have fun without alcohol.
Plan your own alcohol-free summer fun. Taking a class, camping, backpacking, picnicking with friends, biking, or going to the beach with friends who don’t need alcohol to have fun are all great summer time options. And if you’ve always gone to the same place for summer vacation but are worried it might be a problem for your recovery, don’t be afraid to change things up. Throughout the recovery process you’ve grown, learned, and changed. Don’t hesitate to continue the process of positive change by finding new ways to enjoy the summer.
Find a local concert or other event. Communities throughout New Jersey celebrate the summer with free events, including community concerts, picnics, and gatherings in town squares and public parks. These family-friendly events are excellent opportunities to gather together with loved ones and enjoy an experience in a low-pressure setting. You can see a full list of these events here.
Consider volunteering. Serving as a volunteer is as a great way to continue your own growth while helping others. You may even choose to help others in recovery. Research has shown that recovering alcoholics who help others with alcohol addiction experience physical, spiritual, and mental benefits.
Maintaining sobriety is a life-long journey. It’s important to be mentally prepared and not go into situations that could risk your sobriety. Plan ahead so you can enjoy the summer and all it has to offer.