Your Ultimate Guide to Summertime and Addiction Recovery

Staying sober this summer in addiction recovery

It is around this time of year that we typically begin to hear of summer celebrations. Barbecues, birthdays, graduations and more all tend to occur during the summer – and in these instances, alcohol tends to enter the scene which can make it difficult for those in recovery. Even with vacations and cookouts, it’s quite possible to pursue a path of sobriety – but staying grounded and using one’s support, tools and resources are what’s going to be most beneficial for healing.

Summer is unfortunately labeled as a time where much “partying” takes place; the National Public Radio (NPR) announces upbeat songs that promote drinking or drug use, and for many in recovery, this can become quite triggering. To embark on the best summer yet, it’s important to consider some things you may want to look out for – as well as some activities you may want to partake in – to create a memorable space for recovery.

5 Beliefs That Tend to Hold People Back in Recovery

  1. I can’t have fun anymore. This is a common belief that those in recovery have, and it actually perpetuates relapse because it’s such an extreme point of view. The reality is that while it seems like everyone is drinking and “having fun”, there are just as many people who are having fun leading sober lifestyles as well!
  2. It’s embarrassing for people to see me sober. It’s going to take time for you to come to terms with who you are sober, and that’s okay. Don’t force yourself to do anything you don’t feel comfortable doing – in fact, you should aim to surround yourself with people who won’t judge you.
  3. I don’t want to be seen without a drink in hand. Thankfully, there are many virgin drinks that can make you feel as though you’re still partaking in summer festivities without compromising your vow of sobriety. In many cases, people won’t even know because they’re too busy staying focused on their own drink.
  4. I don’t want people to view me as boring. Recovery is certainly a transition, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t be “fun” anymore. In fact, many people will probably appreciate getting to know the “real” you – and if they don’t, they’re not good for you to be around, anyway.
  5. I’m afraid I’ll fall back into drinking if I attend these events. You know your limits. If you are already feeling triggered, you may want to either come up with an “exit” strategy or to avoid going altogether. Know that you’re never forced to stay or partake in drinking activities – if you can establish back-up support beforehand, you’ll be better prepared to avoid relapse.

Establishing Goals This Summer Season

One individual shared her experience with alcoholism via Lee from America; she explained that living in New York City only perpetuated the ease of drinking around friends. She stated:

“There was always another party, gallery opening, concert or a new restaurant to check out. It was a very surreal time in my life, mainly because I didn’t care much for the consequences of my actions. I was living the life! Or so I thought.”

Addiction recovery is a period of time where goal-setting is incredibly important, and plans can go awry if we become distracted by what’s around us. If you’re ready to begin establishing some summer-specific goals to keep you on track, it’s important to write them out and visit them weekly to remind yourself. Every goal you create should fall part of the SMART plan:

Specific – provide enough detail so that you know exactly what you want to accomplish. An example of this may be, “Read one chapter of my book each day.” 

Measurable – you want to be sure that you can keep track of how far you’ve come, so you want to be able to measure your progress. With the above example, you’ll be able to measure your progress by how far you’ve made it into the book you’re currently reading. 

Achievable – despite all of the activities that could take place this summer, you want to set goals that are achievable and not unrealistic. At Cumberland Heights, setting a goal of participating more in your 12-Step meetings could be a goal that you can easily achieve with genuine effort. 

Realistic – select a goal that you’re going to enjoy pursuing. If you select a goal that doesn’t add many benefits to your life, you won’t find that it “sticks” for long. If reading an entire book by the end of the week feels unrealistic, set the goal of one chapter at a time – you’ll be much more likely to get there, and you’ll feel happier taking the steps to complete it, too. 

Timely – set a timeframe for when you want to have this goal completed by. By setting an end goal – 1 week, 1 month, 3 months, 6 months – you’ll have a clear target to achieve, which will make the process much easier.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland River in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of two 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers, and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first. For more information, call 1-800-646-9998 today.