Have a sober buddy to help you keep in check at a summer party. - Photo: Pexels.com / Wendy Wei

Have a sober buddy to help you keep in check at a summer party.

Photo: Pexels.com / Wendy Wei

As summer comes around, events like festivals and holidays can often prove a challenging time for recovering addicts surrounded by temptations. This can be especially hard during celebrations where drinks are expected. To help combat these urges, expert Thomas Isbell, co-founder & CEO of Sabino Recovery, a leading addiction and mental health treatment facility in the U.S., guides us through seven tips to stay on your sober path.  

“During the summer months, staying sober can be hard. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 17% of adults binge drink and 13% of the population over the age of 12 have used illegal drugs in the past month. Trying to be social during this time especially requires a lot of patience and dedication."

— Thomas Isbell, Co-Founder & CEO of Sabino Recovery

Expert Tips for Enjoying Festivities Sober

  • Tip 1 – Keep your reasons for being sober visible. When surrounded by temptations, it is good to remind yourself why you are sober, and you can easily do this with something like setting your lockscreen as a photo of your reasons. This can help ground you in moments where you feel the pull to break sobriety. Whether it is a photo of your family, a picture of a checklist of your reasons, or a picture of yourself, a simple photo can prove good to keep you in check and remind yourself of your motivations and keep yourself accountable for your recovery.  
  • Tip 2 – Have a sober buddy. While it is not always possible to attend an event with another sober person, if it is possible, then this is a great option. A sober buddy is someone you can talk to when things get difficult, and they will help you keep in check. If a physical person is not an option, ensuring you have helplines saved on your phone you can easily call can prove all the difference in avoiding a relapse. 
  • Tip 3 – Give yourself other sources of dopamine. One important thing to focus on is increasing your dopamine levels through other healthy, methods. Alcohol and drugs can easily become enticing if you do not have a different source, so it is key to give yourself this boost elsewhere. While a party may not provide the best arena for outdoor exercise, something small, like meditating before an event, can give you a small boost and set you up for a good day. Alongside this, eating nutritious food and a varied diet will help your brain stay on track and focused across any event or weekend away. If you can fuel yourself with healthy food that helps boost your dopamine levels, then you will have an easier time staying on the right path. 
  • Tip 4 – Get over your embarrassment and enjoy the fun. Many of us feel embarrassed over doing something like dancing in public, but in order to remain sober you must jump the hurdle and become okay with doing things you have deemed humiliating in public. Practicing mindfulness ahead of a trip can set you up and then engaging, little by little, in the ‘embarrassing’ behavior can slowly but surely get you feeling more confident.  
  • Tip 5 – Know where things are ahead of your trip. If it is possible, knowing where, or bringing yourself, the alcohol-free options of the trip are can set you in good stead. If you are attending a holiday celebration, then speaking with the hosts beforehand about alcohol-free options can set you up for an enjoyable time where you do not unnecessarily encounter anything that could trigger you. If you are close to the host, you could even suggest an alcohol-free option entirely.
  • Tip 6 – Recognize your triggers and avoid them. For some, being around alcohol is not a trigger anymore, but for others, newer on their journey to sobriety, it can be an easy catalyst for relapsing. Knowing ahead of time what could trigger you to relapse is key to avoiding such a situation. If you are new to your sober life, then recognizing that going to a 4th of July celebration is going to be too big of a risk for staying on track, then there is no shame avoiding it for this year. It is more important to keep yourself on the path to your goals and any true friend would understand. 
  • Tip 7 – Set boundaries ahead of the event. Setting boundaries is a brilliant way of practicing patience with yourself. Tell yourself ahead of time how long you are going to spend somewhere and stick to it. Avoid hovering near the drinks table and ensure you keep yourself talking to others or otherwise occupied. You build trust with yourself when you know your limit and stick to what you say. There is no need to be overly harsh with yourself though, and it is important to set realistic goals.  

“There is no shame in recognizing that an event or party is too much for you and removing yourself, added Isbell. "Those around you who really care will happily provide accommodations for you and will help where possible. Substance abuse issues are treatable and with focus and dedication you can thrive in these social events without feeling that urge to engage with alcohol or drugs.”

For more information and expert advice please visit www.sabinorecovery.com.

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