You have probably heard the old song that opens: “Summertime and the livin’ is easy.”
It is a nice thought, isn’t it?
As the summer arrives in full force, it is nice to think that perhaps the living will, in fact, be easy.
Turns out, however, that the season of the year has very little to do with whether the living is easy—especially when you are in recovery from a substance use disorder.
In fact, summer can offer up a range of challenges for people who are trying to maintain their sobriety.
So how can you make sure you make it to fall with your sobriety firmly intact?
We have some ideas.
Which Friends Are the Right Friends?
When you are trying to stay sober, it can seem like every single summertime activity involves alcohol or drugs. But none of them have to, right?
The trick is to find the friends who don’t mind having their summertime fun served with a soda rather than a beer.
Who will go to the ballgame with you and won’t ask you if you want a beer from the concession stand? Who will go canoeing, kayaking, or camping with you and won’t feel the need to bring along wine or pot or something stronger? Who will understand if your backyard barbecue is alcohol-free?
You don’t have to ask your friends to become teetotalers in order to hang out over the summer. But it is important to know who is willing to have some sober fun and who you can count on when cravings or other temptations pop up (which they will). Summertime is best spent with friends who fully support your sobriety.
What’s the Escape Plan?
Sometimes, despite careful planning and your best intentions, you might find yourself in a summertime situation that is uncomfortable at best and risky at worst. For example, you might think your softball team will grab burgers or ice cream after the game, but instead the team decides to hit a nearby bar. Or you head out to a party only to discover that many of the attendees are taking drugs to mellow out or amp themselves up. Or you may just find yourself in a social situation when suddenly the cravings seem to rush in to overwhelm you.
In those situations and others like them, it can be truly helpful to have thought through what you might do when confronted with issues like this. Can you just leave? Do you need to call a friend or a taxi or a ride service? Do you have your sponsor’s number handy? Do you know where the nearest meeting is?
Remember that when it comes to your sobriety, issues of courtesy are not in play. So, if you are worried you might grab a beer out of the cooler if you don’t leave the party immediately, just go. Don’t wait to thank your hosts or anything of the kind. Put your plan in action and keep your sobriety safe.
How Will You Maintain Your Routines?
Sometimes summer really does feel different than the other seasons. The kids (or you) are out of school. Maybe your office takes Fridays off. It’s light much longer into the evening, so your activities may change and expand. Maybe you have a vacation coming up.
All of these things are great. But they can also upend the carefully established routines you have put in place to support your sobriety.
For example, you might find that you aren’t getting as much sleep. You could discover that in the rush to get things done before vacation, you have let your stress levels increase quite a bit. You might find yourself at loose ends during unstructured days—and maybe a little boredom creeps in.
It’s okay to let a bit of your routine slip from time to time. But if it happens consistently, you could be headed for trouble. Don’t let the supposedly more relaxed pace of summer make you lackadaisical about your sobriety. Stick to the things that work for you.
No Matter the Season, We Are Here to Help
Substance use disorders are not here one season and gone the next. If you want to regain and maintain your sobriety, your best move is to get help right now—no matter the season. At Bel Aire Recovery Center in Kansas, we offer compassionate, evidence-based, personalized treatment services including medication-assisted detoxification and a rehabilitation program centered on group and individual therapy. We give you the resources and strategies you need to start your recovery journey on the right foot. It won’t be easy, but it will be worthwhile.