Summer is a great time to relax, have some fun, and spend time with loved ones, but for individuals in recovery, it can also be a very trying time. Navigating social situations while trying to stay sober and healthy can be difficult, to say the least, and it’s hard to know the best ways to get around them and hang on to the promises you’ve made to yourself.
Summer is difficult in particular because it’s often the season for weddings, barbecues, birthday parties, and family reunions, and all of those events have the potential to serve alcohol or give access to other substances. It’s important to have a plan in mind before you’re even invited, and know that you don’t have to give up your sobriety in order to have fun.
Here are a few of the best ways to get through summer events in a healthy way.
Get a service animal
Service animals are not only great companions, they also help alleviate stress, anxiety, and other symptoms associated with depression and mood disorders. In fact, petting an animal can have such a calming effect that studies have shown it to reduce blood pressure. The bonus is that you can bring the animal with you to any function, as they are well trained and are allowed in public places due to the fact that they provide an important service.
Recruit a friend
It’s always best to have a sober friend along when you attend a party or big event so that they can provide support and help you make a hasty exit should you feel the need to leave. Be considerate in who you ask to accompany you, however, because if the individual is also in recovery, attending a party may be difficult for them.
Think of your needs
Many experts agree that a person who is in recovery should stay away from social events for at least the first few months of sober living. This is because this time is crucial, and it can be much more difficult to stay away from those substances if you’ve only just started your journey. Put your needs and health first and think about it before answering an invitation. Check in with a counselor at your rehab facility to talk through your concerns and discuss whether they think you’re ready for this next step. If it will be too difficult and will place temptation into your lap, simply decline and thank the hosts for thinking of you.
Don’t feel the need to stay for the entire duration of the party or event, especially if you’re having a hard time being around others who are partaking in alcoholic beverages. Come armed with a plan and either drive yourself or have the number for a taxi service or Uber to pick you up so you won’t have to be at the mercy of another driver.
Bring your own drink
Parties can be especially challenging if you’re forced to go to a bar or be near alcohol just to get a drink of water or a soda, so consider bringing your own if possible. A bonus is that having a drink in your hand will help keep away awkward questions about why you’re not imbibing and will prevent well-intentioned guests and hosts from asking if they can get you a drink.
Remember that sober living is a long road, and it will be difficult to maintain if you aren’t careful about the situations you choose to put yourself in. It’s okay to think about your health and put yourself first, so think hard about which social events you’ll attend and don’t be afraid to decline. With the support of your friends and family, you can make healthy choices and boost your self-esteem at the same time.
Author: Michelle Peterson