As we pack away our winter jackets and dust off our bathing suits, one thing to remember about the summer is that it isn’t always fun in the sun for everyone. I am talking about folks who are trying to live in recovery or lead a sober life. While working with the substance abuse population for many years as a therapist, I learned that the sunny hot days can be triggering for folks trying to focus on being sober. From more social events to outdoor drinking possibilities, the summer comes with its challenges to “say no.” We know that sobriety and recovery is more than just saying no, so let’s review some ways to have additional support this summer season!
Patience! Staying sober is not an easy feat. Keep in mind that while staying sober is a constant process, that relapse can happen quickly, do not rush the sober process, it does not happen overnight.
Keep your summer organized.
Organize your summer! Boredom & loneliness can be triggers and invitations for engaging in some unsafe behaviors. Make plans with your support system, plan your own sober events, and plan things that will be enjoyable without alcohol use. Having a plan can reduce the anxiety of having “nothing to do.”
Be honest with yourself! If you are struggling, be honest! This is a good time to reflect on your triggers and being honest with yourself will encourage you to seek the support you need. This leads me to my next point.
Keep your sober network close.
Do not avoid your sober community. If you attend AA meetings, smart recovery meetings or any type of fellowship, do not start skipping or missing meetings. You need your sober network to get you through the tough times!
Use your coping skills.
Speaking of a support system, keep your coping skills handy. Using the CBT model, you can make yourself coping cards using index cards and carry them with you for when you need to reach into that “toolbox” (Roos et al., 2020). Whatever healthy coping skills you have, keep them sharp during the summertime.
Try New Things.
In addition to coping skills, the summer might be a good time to try a new healthy, sober activity. This will keep you busy, active and ultimately you are engaging in something that can be enjoyable!
Be kind to yourself.
It sort of comes full circle, staying sober is no easy feat, we do not need to complicate things by beating ourselves down! Practicing self-compassion builds your recovery capital which is the social and personal resources folks needs to sustain long term recovery (Chen 2019). You deserve the same compassion and forgiveness you would give your fellow friend and you need it from yourself.
Chen, G. (2019). The role of self-compassion in recovery from Substance Use Disorders. OBM Integrative and Complementary Medicine, 4(2), 1–1. https://doi.org/10.21926/obm.icm.1902026
Roos, C. R., Carroll, K. M., Nich, C., Frankforter, T., & Kiluk, B. D. (2020). Short- and long-term changes in substance-related coping as mediators of in-person and computerized CBT for alcohol and drug use disorders. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 212, 108044. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2020.108044