Summertime is a season of revitalization and energy. During summer, the weather is warm, friends, family and students get time off, and the overall sense of possibility and adventure seems limitless. While these feelings are great to experience, there are also some risks and concerns for those in addiction recovery; such concerns should not prevent you from making the most of your summertime.
You might still worry that social gatherings around the barbecue pit, by the lake or near the ocean might put you back into a state of mind where you want to use substances to accompany your social endeavors. You understand, however, that this is no longer a viable option, and such a thought could lead to feelings of self-doubt or isolation. While it is good to be aware of the dangers to your sobriety in social settings, this does not mean you should keep yourself from enjoying summer. There are plenty of ways to still get the most out of summer, boost your energy and enjoy the activities this season has to offer.
Prepare Your Mindset for the Journey and the Return
Recovery provides you with holistic tools such as mindfulness and meditation to help you explore, understand and connect with yourself. Therefore, you should use these practices consistently, especially when preparing to venture into social situations. Such techniques help you identify and recognize the things and people that might trigger you to drink, and knowing this information is essential to navigating social settings. Writing down thoughts and feelings associated with social activities helps you create a map for what you can and cannot handle. As you create your summer plans, ask yourself:
- What type of adventures will you have, and how will you stay busy?
- What atmosphere and triggers might you face?
- Which items will you need to pack to feel comfortable and organized?
- What can you accomplish in your home so that you can return to a comfortable setting?
Not only will the list help you prepare for vacations or social gatherings, but it will also reduce a lot of stress when you return home. Returning home to a load of chores and duties can frustrate you and could deteriorate any vacation euphoria, even triggering you to want to relapse. While you prepare to navigate social settings, also prepare for a comfortable and safe return.
Adventure with Buddies Who Support You
Support from family, friends, peers and therapists that you trust is not only essential to recovery but also a terrific way to ensure that everyone in your company respects your recovery needs and boundaries. Planning events that include supportive people from social circles and family and friends who understand your recovery can make for a much more fun and stress-free endeavor. Planning weekend trips or cookouts with such friends can also assure you that no temptation or substances will be present. However, even if they are, you will know that you have support from others to help you overcome temptations.
Think Outside the Norm for a Sober Summer
The quality of your summer activities is also about what you plan with your support circles. Summer is not limited to barbecues and the beach. Sometimes making plans with fellow peers and others that do not need alcohol or substances to be the “life of the party” will have you venturing on awesome outdoor activities and trying new things. Hiking, climbing, rafting and camping are all great summer activities. Think outside the norm, and you will find great fun and adventure and, more importantly, growth opportunities. Such activities also help you get outside of your comfort zone and embrace change. For example, maybe you plan a camping trip, and it rains on you; some might see this as a failed attempt at camping, while others see this as an opportunity to roll with the punches of nature and subsequently learn how to overcome the challenges of rain when camping. Having a plan to help you cope and manage unexpected challenges, or “adventure intervening” includes:
- Taking time to practice breathwork
- Utilizing mindfulness and meditation practice
- Being open with others in your support network to share how each other feels
Have a Summer Party Strategy
It might be inevitable that you get invited to a social event that will include substances. No matter where you are in recovery, it might be hard not to worry about the “what ifs?” Having a strategy to get you away from temptation and maintain enjoyment is necessary. You can begin by calling on a trusted friend or peer to attend with you. Having someone around to keep an eye on you can provide confidence and accountability with how you act and respond in challenging situations should you be presented the opportunity to drink. A friend could lead you away from a distressing interaction and even reassure you that it is OK to leave the event.
You may also talk with the host to provide non-alcoholic drinks of your choice. Having options will allow you the ability to continue to socialize with a non-alcoholic drink in hand. If you still worry whether the host will accommodate you, you can bring the refreshments of your choice. Also, understand that it is OK to walk away or leave the party if it becomes too overwhelming at any point. Your recovery should always come first, and no situation or choice is worth putting all your work to stay sober in jeopardy. You might also consider driving yourself; this way, you can leave at any point and hold yourself accountable not to drink because you know that you have to drive home.
Participating in summer activities might present challenges as you’re in addiction recovery, but this does not mean that you can’t seize the energy and enthusiasm of the summer. Have a plan and you can remain true to your sobriety. If you are have not started recovery and are struggling, New Hope Ranch in Manor, Texas, can help. With 24/7 admissions, there is never a bad time to reach out. To find out more, call New Hope Ranch today at (737) 600-8565.