If you are suffering from a substance abuse issue, it is…
There is a lot of speculation about whether it is easier to be sober in colder weather or warmer weather. Some people find sobriety more difficult in colder weather, when activities are moved indoors and many of the big events, such as New Year’s Eve parties and Super Bowl celebrations are traditionally focused on alcohol. Others find staying sober in warmer weather to be more of a challenge. Fortunately, there are some things you can do that will make it easier to help you sustain your sobriety, whatever the season.
Recognize Why Summer and Spring Might Be Challenging
As the year moves into spring and summer, most people have more leisure time. This starts early in life, when summer vacations from school meant weeks and weeks of downtime. While most adults, even those in school, do not get the same lengthy leisure opportunities, summer still tends to offer more downtime than other parts of the year. Add to that downtime longer days to enjoy the outdoors, plenty of outdoor festivals, and Memorial Day, Labor Day, and the Fourth of July, which are all associated with partying, and it can be a challenge to stay substance-free. Whether your warm weather worries come because you think you will be tempted by a cold beer after mowing the lawn or by drugs at a bonfire, spend some time thinking about your personal risk factors. You cannot defeat them if you do not acknowledge them.
Separate Summer Feelings from Substance Feelings
Looking back, it is incredibly easy to romanticize summer feelings. For many of us, summer is not just a time of leisure, getting to do what you want, and limited supervision, but also a time of first loves, first kisses, great adventures. It is no mystery why so many songs, movies, and books focus on the summer! However, if you were using during your own summers, it can be really hard to separate the freedom of summer from feelings you got from substances. It gets tied to the feeling of using, even though many of those summer feelings have nothing to do with using. It makes it easy to romanticize the substance abuse. You need to be aware of that possibility and stop it when it happens.
Consider Your Companions Carefully
One of the keys to sobriety is avoiding the things that made you use in the first place. While personal responsibility means avoiding blaming others for your substance abuse issues, the fact remains that some people are not great influences. It is very hard to stay sober around other people who are abusing your substance of choice. It is very hard to stay sober around people who do not respect your sobriety. Staying sober this spring and summer may mean choosing a whole new group of people to surround you.
Make a Plan!
Actually, make several plans. Think ahead of what a particular outing might entail and how you are going to stay sober. Planning a vacation? Skip the all-inclusive resorts where the booze flows freely and for-free. Heading out to a party? Bring your favorite non-alcoholic beverage with you. Plan summer activities that do not focus on drinking, instead of activities that do. Bring a sober friend with you to parties. Make your own drinks.
Know the Difference Between a Slip and a Slide
No one wants to slip up in their sobriety, but slips are, for many people, an expected part of sobriety. Do not let a slip derail you. If you use, get help for it immediately instead of using it as an excuse to slide all the way back into your addiction.