If you associate the summer months with boozy barbecues and long afternoons sitting in a beer garden, you may be dreading having to deal with this time of year as a person in recovery. It is easy to feel left out if all or your friends are planning drinking adventures once the weather gets warmer, but staying sober during the summer is not much different to staying sober at any other time of the year. Once you have done it once, you will probably never worry about doing it again. Here are a few suggestions for how you can negotiate your first summer as a recovering alcoholic.
Have a Plan for Dealing with Thoughts of Relapse
It may be that things happen during the summer months that trigger cravings, so you do need to be prepared for this. It is vital that you have a plan of action now because it can be very difficult to think rationally if you are overwhelmed by cravings. One of the most important things you would need to do is talk to somebody else; if you belong to a fellowship then you should go to a meeting and share your feelings. You could also talk to your sponsor.
Plan Your Holidays Carefully
If you are still new in recovery, you do not want to be going somewhere on holiday where there would be a lot of drinking going on around you. This could prove too much of a temptation, easily leading to resentment about not touching alcohol and then using this as an excuse to relapse. Ideally, it would be good to go on holidays with at least one other person who does not drink. You can also choose a destination where the focus is more on outdoor activities and non-alcohol related entertainment. If you are uncertain about your ability to stay sober on holidays, you might be better off skipping it until next year when you feel stronger.
Get More Involved in the Recovery Community
Spending more time with people in recovery will mean that you have plenty of support over the summer months. It also means that you will have things to do, beginning to take steps to strengthen your sobriety. There will be many other people having the same fears about summer as you do, or have dealt with such fears in the past, so you can gain a lot from their experience. Getting involved in the recovery community can also allow you to give something back, which is likely to boost your self-esteem.
If You Need to Attend a Drinking Event, Make Sure You Have an Exit Strategy
There may be some occasion over the summer months where you feel obliged to attend, even though there will be people there drinking alcohol. You should never attend this type of event if you do not feel able to manage it but, if you are going to go, make sure you have an exit strategy. It is also best to leave early, before people start getting drunk. If you can bring along a sober companion then that can be a great help, but make sure that this person is also strong enough to deal with the situation; otherwise, you could both end up relapsing.
Avoid Getting Dehydrated
One of the risks during the hot summer months is that you forget to drink enough water and start to become dehydrated. When this happens, it can easily open the door to strong cravings for your old favourite thirst-quencher. You can prevent this from happening by drinking plenty of water and always carrying a bottle around with you.