Summer has arrived, bringing warmer weather, longer days, and time off from work, school, and other commitments for many of us. It’s the ultimate season for firing up the grill, enjoying family vacations, get-togethers with friends, outings at the beach, picnics, concerts, camping trips, backyard barbeques, and lazing in the sun. It can also be an opportunity to explore staying sober.
For folks in recovery or those wishing to live a life free from alcohol for other reasons (medical issues, cutting back on calories, etc.), however, summer can be a challenging time—highlighted by powerful temptations and numerous triggers that can make it seem near impossible not to drink. Safeguard your sobriety and prevent summer traditions from destroying your recovery success with these 5 tips for staying sober this summer:
Plan ahead: The more planning you can do for yourself, the better. Know what the atmosphere will be like at the functions or events you will be attending. Find out who will be there, how long it’s expected to last and, when possible, ask ahead to inquire if non-alcoholic drinks will be provided. If you’re going to a private residence, consider bringing along a bottle of your favorite non-alcoholic beverage. If you plan to travel, look up support meetings near your vacation destination. Were you successful on previous trips? What strategies were helpful for you then? Always have an exit plan in place that will allow you to leave social gatherings promptly if you feel uncomfortable or urges become too strong.
Pick up a new hobby: One often overlooked by-product of sobriety is an abundance of free-time. If alcohol was once an all-consuming part of your life, you may find that you now have a tremendous amount of free time on your hands after embarking on your journey of recovery. To fill your seemingly longer days, feel more productive, and lessen your risk of becoming bored, pursue a hobby or interest, such as cooking, dancing, hiking, or a recreational sport. You may consider volunteering, as a way of giving back to society and those in need, or signing up for a summer art class at a local community college.
Indulge in fun mocktails: Sometimes, drinking plain ol’ water and soda can get boring after a while, especially at social functions. Luckily, there are plenty of magazines, websites, and apps bursting with fun, refreshing summertime “mocktail” recipes. From virgin piña coladas and daiquiris to mouthwatering cran-apple cider and watermelon coolers, there are a plethora of options out there for those looking to spice up their beverage choices, without alcohol. Here is a recipe for one of my personal favorite summer treats, the Strawberry Margarita Mocktail, from Sober Julie—a funky sober mom blogger who runs a website for those living life “straight up”. You can find more of Julie’s delicious recipes here.
1 lb strawberries
½ cup orange juice
½ cup sparking water
¼ cup lime juice
Colored coarse sugar (for the rims of the glasses)
Lime for garnish (cut into wheels)
Place the strawberries, orange juice, sparkling water, lime juice, and ice into a blender. Blend on medium-high until it reaches a slushy consistency. Add in ice as necessary. Cut a small slit into a lime wheel, then wipe it around the rim of the glasses. Pour the sugar onto a plate and roll the glasses in it, collecting the sugar onto the lime juice on the rim. Pour the strawberry margarita into 4 glasses, garnish with a lime, and serve. Yum!
Stick with a sober buddy: If you’re planning to attend a social gathering or event where alcohol is expected to be served, don’t go it alone. Bring along an AA companion or sober friend who will respect and support you in your recovery. It’s always a good idea to surround yourself with a network of like-minded (sober) people that will encourage and support you in your efforts to abstain from alcohol use. Or, enlist the help of someone at the party whom you trust (the host, your neighbor, a good friend). Tell them that you can’t drink and appoint them as your bodyguard.
Play the tape forward: If you were to take a drink, what would happen? You likely have enough awareness into your own patterns and behaviors from past experiences and unpleasant consequences by now that you’ll be able to use this important insight for predicting future outcomes. So, instead of focusing on that first glass, think about the last glass, the end of the night. Would your alcohol consumption ultimately spiral out of control? Would you regret your choices the next morning? Feel disappointed in yourself for caving in?
Sobriety doesn’t have to be a death sentence. Summer gatherings and festivities can still be plenty enjoyable, even without alcohol. Wishing you all a safe and fun summer!