Your Recovery Guide This Summer
Summer means long weekends, sunny vacations and backyard barbeques with friends. But it can also pose added challenges for those in recovery. We offer some easy tips for staying clean and having fun in the coming months.
The word ‘summer’ often brings to mind bonfires on the beach, weekends spent in the great outdoors, picnics in the park and adventures with family and friends. Summer is often seen as a time to let loose with loved ones and take a bit of time to enjoy ourselves. But with parties and summer cocktails galore, summertime can pose some unique challenges to those in addiction recovery.
The Challenges of Staying Clean in the Summer
Staying clean can pose difficulties at any time of year, but summer months make it especially difficult for the following reasons:
- The days are longer. When the sun is still shining at 7pm, it’s normal to want to be out enjoying the evening. These extra hours of daylight give the feeling of more free time – and free time, for many, can lead to cravings for drugs or alcohol.
- You’ll get invited to more parties. From pool parties to backyard barbeques, your social calendar is bound to fill up quickly. Unfortunately, alcohol is commonplace at these gatherings, and it’s easy to associate them with substances you used to use.
- Traveling can trigger relapse. Traveling can be a relapse trigger if you’re not careful. Of course, you want to try all your destination has to offer. But when you’re on holiday and far from your support system and daily routines, it can be all too easy to tell yourself you’ll engage in an old behavior ‘just this once’.
Your Summer Recovery Checklist
Here are some tips to help you stay clean in the sunny season:
- Stay clear about your goals. It’s a good idea to remind yourself from time to time of why you got clean, and why recovery is a priority – and there’s no time like the present to revisit your recovery goals. Chat with your sponsor, use your recovery peers as a sounding board or journal out your thoughts. Why is it important to you to keep recovery as your number one goal?
- Plan ahead. Nobody is impervious to triggers and cravings. Behavioral cues like visiting a bar, walking down the beer aisle in a grocery store or even interacting with certain people can increase the likelihood of engaging in an old addiction. Plan ahead and avoid putting yourself in a tight spot whenever possible.
- Be active in your recovery. If you’ve been through an addiction treatment program, you will have developed strategies and resources to support your recovery. You may have a behavior plan, printed materials, a contact list for support or other resources available to you. Actively use these to support your recovery.
- Go to meetings. Warm weather and longer days aren’t an excuse to skip out on meetings – in fact, they’re especially important now. If you’re taking a holiday, look up local support meetings where you’re going, or join online aftercare while you’re away.
- Bring support. If you do go into a situation you expect will challenge your abstinence, bring a friend who knows about your circumstances and can help you stick to your goals – their support can make a world of difference.
- Take care of yourself. The worst times to make decisions are when you’re stressed, hungry and tired. When your energy levels are low and you’re not thinking clearly, you’re more likely to engage in addictive behaviors. To avoid this scenario, make sure to carve out ample time for self-care.
- Plan clean activities with your friends. There are tons of fun things to do in the summer that don’t involve alcohol or drugs. Take the lead and organise some activities for your friends and loved ones this summer to ensure that you still get to be social. We offer some ideas below to help you do just that.
Fun and Clean Summer Activities
Staying active and having fun helps you stay clean and enjoy life! Here are a few suggestions for clean summer fun:
- Be a tourist for a day. There’s nothing like seeing your own city through a fresh pair of eyes to breathe some life and novelty into your experience of where you live. Check out unique city tours in your area to learn something you never knew about the place you call home, or create your own itinerary that includes several places you’ve been wanting to check out.
- Check out local fairs and festivals. Festivals and fairs pop up all over the place during the summer – the perfect excuse to spend the day outside watching creative performances, jamming to live music or learning about other cultures or bringing out your inner kid on some rides.
- Get your game on. Get involved in a friendly beach volleyball match or play some football, rugby or badminton at the park. Group classes and exercise sessions are often held outdoors and open to the public during summer months. Not only is this a great way to meet new people, but physical activity is one of the best things you can do for your recovery.
- Get outside. Go for a hike and observe the beauty of the forest, smell the flowers and watch the wildlife. Grab a tent and spend the weekend camping in the outdoors, cooking over a fire and getting up early (infinitely easier without a hangover) to watch the sunrise. It’s amazing how much happier and healthier a little time in nature can make you feel.
- Tend your tulips. Gardening in addiction recovery can have many benefits. It teaches us about the cycles of life, gives us a reason to get outside and rewards us with bounty. Even small-scale gardening like tending your window flower box or starting a container garden on your balcony can have major therapeutic effects.
- Try something new. Expanding your culinary repertoire, building terrariums, trying aerial yoga or taking a deep dive into an interesting subject – there are endless pursuits that can add interest to your life. Not sure where to start? Poke around on Pinterest for new hobbies that might pique your interest.
- Volunteer. Don’t take our word for it – Harvard research proves that volunteering is good for your body and mind. Giving back is not only important to those around us in need, it also adds to our sense of meaning and purpose – and a lack of purpose is a precursor to addiction. Summertime, with its longer days and freer schedule, is the perfect time to start supporting a cause you feel passionate about.
Get Clean This Summer, and Learn How Life Can Take You Higher Than Drugs Can
Because of the rise in relapses during the summer months, it’s important to be proactive about your recovery. It may be useful to write out all the clean activities you want to do throughout the summer and gradually work your way down the list.
Just remember – if you feel something is a threat to your recovery, don’t hesitate to reach out to your support network. If you’ve tried to stop drinking or using drugs in the past without success, it’s probably time to seek professional help.