Yesterday was the first official day of summer! Summertime is filled with lots of outdoor events including festivals, concerts, family gatherings, and barbeques. Most, if not all of these get togethers will unavoidably include alcohol. If this is your first sober summer, it doesn’t have to be any less fun or eventful. Here are a few ways you can stay true to your recovery during these summer months.
Remember, it is okay to politely decline an offer. If you feel strongly that you might break your sobriety by attending an event that has alcohol, it is okay to PASS. There is always, always, something else you can do in the summer. It is also important to remember that PEOPLE WILL UNDERSTAND your sobriety. If you share your concerns about alcohol being present, you might be surprised at the mutual respect and understanding that comes with it. The more that the “breaking the addiction stigma” is seen as the norm, the more accepting the general population is becoming about sobriety in general. It is not “weird” to not drink, now a days it is admired and respected. It is easier said than done, but by surrounding yourself with the right people aka the ones who understand your recovery process and won’t jeopardize it, you will feel less pressure to explain your sobriety.
Bringing a sober plus one can be a huge advantage. Power in numbers, especially regarding sobriety, can be incredibly helpful if you are new to recovery or a few years in – it doesn’t matter!
Remember, it is okay to leave an uncomfortable situation. Your sobriety is your number one priority. In fact, planning your own events can help to ensure that you won’t be walking into a tempting situation. Schedule a dry pool party or a sober cookout, invite people who you know will respect your no alcohol rule.
If you are attending a party or event that will have alcohol, bring a small gift for the host and a beverage of your own choice. It’s a good idea to have your own beverage in your hand at all times, so people will be less inclined to offer you a drink from the bar, or to bring you an unsolicited alcoholic beverage.
Always have an exit strategy, for example, you’re at a party and you are doing fine, and then a craving hits and you feel a strong desire to drink alcohol. It is fine to excuse yourself and say that you promised to pick up a friend from the airport or from work, or you have to go let out your friends’ dog, or you have to go help your parents. You can always excuse yourself to the bathroom and then come back with the news that you have to leave. Regardless of the excuse, having an exit strategy is key.
Here’s some promising news! The NIH did a study in the late 1990s of roughly 1,200 people entering addiction programs for alcohol. They found that the longer you stay sober, your chances of continuing to stay sober increase exponentially every year. So, in this research project, the persons who were sober for up to 3 years had a 66% chance of remaining sober. After 4 years the same people had an 84% chance of remaining sober, which is incredibly promising!
|Up to one year sober||36%|
|1 to 3 years sober||66%|
|4 to 5 years sober||84%|
|5 or more years sober||86%|
Though summer may not be difficult for everyone, it definitely is the most triggering season for some. This is why it’s important to think ahead and have a game plan for the summer months. Always keep your sober toolkit handy, play the movie forward, and remember your WHY.