Navigating Summer Parties and Picnics in Recovery from Substance Abuse

As summer arrives, so do the invitations to parties, BBQ’s, after-work drinks outside and picnics on the beach or in the park. It is not unusual to associate these events with drinking and using. Navigating the challenges summer brings to us in early recovery can be a difficult and sometimes it’s best to avoid these situations altogether. At other times, though, it’s simply not possible. This is why we’ve put together a blog to help you get through those long summer months.

Plan what you’re going to say:

Going prepared to these situations can be a big help. Whether you like it or not, people will ask questions if you don’t drink, especially if you are newly sober. You may find it empowering to attend these events with some prepared answers to the inevitable questions people will ask. You don’t need to create elaborate answers. For example, if someone asks why you aren’t drinking, just reply: “I don’t feel like it”, or “I’m driving”, or even if you feel like full disclosure – “I don’t drink”. People are much more accepting of this statement these days and more often than not will just leave it at that.

Know your triggers:

Read our last blog on how to avoid 5 of the most common relapse triggers. Item three discusses celebrations and offers certain tools to help you cope with them. It will also help you figure out what triggers you most and give you some useful guidance on how to avoid some of the pitfalls that can trip us up. It may be helpful to become the designated driver when you need to attend summer events and parties and to make sure you have support of friends or family who know that you aren’t drinking and can help you avoid temptation.

Wake up grateful:

Gratitude is not only one of the mainstays of recovery but also a conduit to a happier life, in general. Waking up the day after an event without a pounding head and sick feeling in your stomach is a huge thing to be grateful for in recovery. Cherish the moment you wake up ready to face the world fresh faced and well rested. Getting through the night before, however difficult it may have been is made worth it when you wake up feeling mentally, physically and spiritually well. Treasure the feeling of having clear memories of the event and be proud of the fact you got through it sober. Remembering the feeling of morning gratitude after an event is a great motivator to stay sober at the next event that comes your way.

Ask for help:

In recovery, it’s always really important to use the support system that you have in place. This can be made up of family and old friends, but also new friends you will have made from sober support groups in which you might be involved. Reaching out to these people when you are struggling is the best way to avoid a slip. If you are feeling wobbly but need to attend an event this summer – ask one of them to come with you. Use the support network you’ve got for other things, too. Planning sober events during the summer months like hiking, swimming, bike riding or taking up a new craft or hobby together can help you stay focused on your sobriety. Remember that there is always safety in numbers. These people want to support you. If they are in recovery, by helping you they will also be helping themselves.

Charles Bowden said “Summertime is always the best of what might be.” Let this be true for your summer this year. Embrace your recovery. Try new things. Open your soul to the sunshine and laughter without the need for drinking or drugging. It really is a beautiful, happy time of year.