Summer is usually a very relaxing season. Most people look forward to spending time with their loved ones, attending pool parties and concerts, going for picnics, and other social events. However, people who struggle with substance use disorder and are working to maintain a sober life aren’t always excited about summer.
Events during the summer usually come with a lot of alcohol and other intoxicating substances. Staying sober thus becomes challenging even for a person who just finished a recovery program and is trying to stay sober. If you are not careful, it’s easy to relapse. No matter how fun summer seems, staying sober should always be your priority.
Substance Abuse in Summer
Drinking alcohol during summer will affect your recovery journey and impose some detrimental health effects on your body. Being out in the sun increases the dehydration rate. Alcohol also makes your kidneys release more water through urine, which worsens dehydration. If you are already intoxicated, it can be hard to notice that you are getting dehydrated until it’s too late. When dehydrated, a person may experience symptoms like dry mouth, headaches, and seizures. People often confuse these symptoms with withdrawal, and attempting to stave off withdrawal can lead someone back into substance abuse.
Although it might seem difficult to maintain sobriety throughout the summer, it actually provides an excellent opportunity to recover. The weather is refreshing, the stress is low, and you have time to focus on yourself. Plus, if you have children, this is the perfect time to bond with them since they are out of school. Maintaining sobriety will depend on how well you utilize your free time.
Why It’s Harder to Stay Sober During the Summer
The summer months make sobriety a struggle for a number of reasons. First, days are longer than nights, freeing more time for backyard barbecues and pool parties. The extra time and social situations increase the chances of alcohol cravings. You will have to spend more time fighting the temptations to indulge in drugs during summer than in other seasons, so you need to stay strong.
People also have more free time in the summer. Even those working on a tight schedule still plan for more activities with friends and family. Balancing all the social gatherings that summer brings along with the job becomes overwhelming at times. Sometimes when partying, people take stimulants to stay up longer, be able to drink more, etc., which can lead to addiction rather quickly.
More music festivals and concerts take place during summer. Alcohol and drugs are prevalent in such gatherings, and there could be smoking marijuana and sometimes people recreationally using other drugs. If you hang around people drinking alcohol and taking other drugs, you are more likely to feel the pressure to join them.
Although alcohol is readily available throughout the year, summer brings out alcohol-related activities in abundance. Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day, as well as festivals and other holidays often feature parties that involve alcohol and possibly other substances.
Most companies also hold happy hours and other parties to foster a positive culture in the workplace. All these events have a surplus of alcohol which can result in binge drinking, and the peer pressure to participate is strong because it’s for work. If someone had already begun drinking before the summer, this season creates a perfect opportunity to increase the intensity and frequency of use.
Summer is vacation season, and many people enjoy sitting on the beach with a cocktail or two. This can lead to drinking alcohol on vacation despite your resolve to stay sober. Recreational drugs are legal in some countries and states. If a person working toward sobriety finds him- or herself on such vacations, it might be tough to resist the temptations.
Summer Activities that Encourage Sober Living
Staying sober is a choice that you need to make every day. However, some seasons and days are more challenging than others. It can be tough to stay on track during summer, but it’s doable. Fortunately, summer is a great season to find a new hobby because it’s so much easier to spend time outdoors.
Try Out Some Water Sports
Just like any other sports, water activities are suitable for your body and mind. Swimming, for instance, can help improve your mood. It’s a rigorous exercise that stimulates the production of feel-good endorphins. The water also makes you feel light, which enables your muscles to relax.
The tranquility in such an environment can help boost mental health. You can learn how to surf, paddleboard, river raft, canoe, and kayak in the summer. Focusing on such sports will give you something to concentrate on, so you use your time developing new skills that distract you from drugs and alcohol.
You can also plan for camping with your sober friends or family members. Camping gives your body and mind a chance to relax in nature. This will eliminate common addiction triggers and lowers stress as well. The new challenges that come with camping, like gathering food and managing your shelter, help to keep your brain healthy.
Join a Hiking Club
Explore various hiking trails with your sober friends. Hiking is good for your body and mind. This activity allows you to spend time in nature, which can melt away stress and evoke a more positive outlook on life.
Plan a Barbecue
You can still enjoy some outdoor barbecuing, provided that you do it with people who understand and respect your intention to stay sober. Invite supportive friends and family members to try out various dishes and a special array of nonalcoholic mixed drinks, or “mocktails,” which have become very popular.
Aerobic exercises like cycling reduce anxiety and depression. Take bike trips from one destination to another and explore various terrains. Cycling requires you to concentrate on the road, which redirects your focus from addiction triggers.
Pursue Your Passion
Summer activities don’t have to be social. Take some time alone and find out what your strengths and interests are. If you have a passion, spending time with it will create a sense of fulfillment and self-awareness. Your passion will give you a chance to keep learning new things, and you will discover better sources of happiness than drugs and alcohol.
Set up an Outdoor Movie Theater
You can set up an outdoor screen in your backyard and invite your friends and family members for a movie. The outdoor temperature at night during summer is fantastic, and you can do other things for backyard recreation, too. You have a chance to play board games, bond with your family, and talk things out.
Tips for Staying Sober During the Summer
To overcome temptations during summer, you need to plan and stay flexible to handle the challenges that you might face along the way. As you explore the above ideas for sober recreation, here are some additional tips to help you continue a healthy recovery without missing the summer fun.
- Pay Attention to Your Emotions. Most times, people turn to drugs and alcohol when they feel stressed, upset, or angry. Summer brings along a set of challenges that can lure you into abusing drugs. You might feel bad that other people can drink as much as they want while you can’t. Avoid resentment since it can trigger the urge to indulge in drugs. You can always share with your therapist about your encounters or write your feelings down to release them.
- Keep in Touch With Your Recovery Program. People commonly get complacent about recovery, especially in the summer months. However, you need to give your recovery more attention than anything else. Continue attending meetings for your outpatient program, and stay involved in your recovery. If you usually attend meetings a few times a week, make an effort to do it more often. When traveling for vacations, participate in online therapy sessions or find local support groups for addiction recovery. You have a chance to interact with people suffering from a similar problem as yours from a different region to strengthen your coping strategies.
- Hang Out With People Who Know Your Sobriety Goals.One great way to stay sober during summer is by spending time with the right people. If you hang out with friends who take alcohol and drugs, you are more likely to fall back to addiction. Stay with people who accept and understand what you stand for. If you must attend parties, bring along a sober friend who can keep you accountable.
- Connect with Friends from Rehab. Granite Recovery Centers offers an alumni program to allow those in recovery to find the support they need. The facility offers events like bowling, movies, paintball, and laser tag.
- Be Honest With Yourself and Those Around You. If you recently left the inpatient recovery program, people around you will be curious about what it feels like. Be prepared to answer some questions honestly. If there are questions that make you feel awkward, you can give a brief response. Let people know that recovery is an integral part of your life, and you are happy to change your behaviors for the better. Your social life is one of the things that might change, as people that aren’t supportive of your new way of living are not worth keeping around. Be honest about what you feel at particular moments. Honesty will help you take responsibility for your actions, rebuild trust, and mend relationships with the people you hurt during active addiction.
- Plan for Events Appropriately. If you must attend parties that encourage a lot of drinking and drug use, you must prepare in advance to avoid temptations. Carry some non-alcoholic refreshments so that you have options during the party. Don’t allow people to dictate what you use. If being around alcohol makes you uncomfortable, you can also choose to take walks with your friends rather than meeting them in a bar.
You don’t have to stay until the end of each party. The longer you stay on, the more intoxicated people get, and they might push you into having a drink. Leave early enough to avoid such incidents. To avoid slipping up, keep reminding yourself of your recovery journey, how far you have come, and your goals. If you feel that you can’t abstain from drinking alcohol when you attend a particular event, don’t go.
Keep Yourself Busy. During summer, you might have more time than you are used to. This can lead to boredom, which is a common trigger of relapse. Therefore, keep yourself busy with activities. Whenever you are out with friends, you can preoccupy yourself with cards or other games to keep alcohol off your mind.
If you still have a lot of extra time, pick up a part-time job. You can also choose to do volunteer work for nonprofit organizations that deal with children, animal welfare, or environmental protection. Volunteering will make your summer break more meaningful while at the same time encouraging you to stay sober. You may even meet some great new sober friends.
Take Sober Vacations. If you travel to areas that bring back memories of the old days, you are more likely to relapse. Change your vacation plans, explore new places, and try discovering new adventures. With so many people seeking addiction treatment, hotels and companies that offer alcohol-free vacations have emerged. Various tour agencies provide travel arrangements for people in recovery. You can connect with other people with a common goal through such trips.
Sobriety Is a Journey
Even after treatment, recovery is a continuous process, and staying sober all the time is your ultimate responsibility. You don’t have to give up your summer fun time to stay sober. However, you should always be mindful of situations that can tempt you to slip back into your old habits.
Unfortunately, not every person will manage to stay sober throughout the summer. If you or your loved ones do relapse, it’s a good idea to seek immediate professional help from a facility like Granite Recovery Centers. We offer effective addiction treatment for alcohol and other harmful substances. Let us help you take your life back, and give us a call today.