Summertime and Sobriety—How to Stay Sober During the Party Season

Happy friends in the car going on summer vacation.

Summer is upon us, and for most people, this an exciting and fun season. The sun’s out, the temperatures are up, and there is an energy and aliveness in the air. But for some of us, the summertime can bring a bit of a struggle. For those of us in recovery from alcohol use, seeing others celebrate the summer with social drinking can be a temptation.

While anyone who’s gone to a residential addiction treatment center will carry with them a great deal of strength and resolve to stay sober, it helps to have additional tools and advice for contending with face-to-face events where one’s resolve is tested. Let’s take a look at what someone might do during the summer months to ensure that they stay sober, and to ensure that they don’t slip up and experience a relapse.

Get around the Right People

Human beings are impressionable creatures. That much about us is known. A big part of having a fun and alcohol-free summer is going to mean getting around people who don’t drink all that much, if at all. Close family and friends should already know better than to consume copious amounts of alcohol around you. If they don’t, there’s nothing wrong with politely asking them not to, or removing yourself from their vicinity if they don’t want to cooperate. And as for casual acquaintances or associates, there’s nothing wrong with being picky and selecting the social engagements where acquaintances and other participants are more likely to keep things relaxed with alcohol consumption to a minimum.

Be Willing to Leave an Uncomfortable Situation

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with extricating yourself from an uncomfortable situation. Bonfires, cookouts, pool parties, Fourth of July festivities—none of these are required for living. If you find yourself at such an event and there is a fair amount of booze being consumed, say your polite goodbyes to the host and leave. Don’t feel like you have to stick around to be cool. “Being cool” is what got so many of us into trouble with drinking in the first place. Let’s not play that card again.

Devote Time and Effort to Constructive Activities

A couple is hiking

The days are longer in the summertime. Warm weather, late sunsets, early sunrises, this is the season to tackle projects that get put off during the rest of the year. If you have kids that are on summer vacation, what better time to go on family trips and to show your kids the world? If you have a pastime or hobby, something you’ve always wanted to take up, what better time to do so than right now?

Give Back to the World

One of the best uses of time that anyone in recovery has is efforts towards giving back. While we were struggling with addiction, we took so much from those around us, our family members, our friends, our coworkers, and the society as a whole. We harmed others through our transgressions, almost as much as we harmed ourselves. Give back to your community by volunteering. Help a family member who needs it. Lend a hand to your friend who needs assistance on a project. So much growth lies in time spent helping others. Why not dedicate the summer months to activities such as these instead of going to parties and potentially drunken social events?

Go Over What You Learned in Treatment

Those of us who have been fortunate enough to get the help of a residential treatment center were able to learn immensely valuable lessons from it. We were able to grow and recover as individuals in ways we would never have been able to on our own. If times get tough in the summer and you feel that old temptation creep up, remind yourself of what you learned while in treatment and use those reminders to temper the steel that is your resolve to stay sober.

Prioritize Your Sobriety

This might sound overly simplistic, but it is the simplicity that makes this advice work. Remember that as a recovering addict, there is nothing in your life more important than your sobriety. If you lose your sobriety through a relapse, none of the other aspects of your life that are important will even be relevant. You’ll be back to drinking, and that will once again consume life and livingness. So make sure that you prioritize your sobriety this summer.

What Are You Already Doing That’s Working?

Usually, while in a treatment center, we are assisted in creating successful actions and strategies for staying sober once back out in the real world. Whether its reading educational books, attending church, dedicating ourselves to school, career, or the family, sobriety is found in rehab, but it is solidified in our day-to-day activities in the months following our completion of a rehab program. Staying sober during the summer months doesn’t have to mean reinventing the wheel. It can be as simple as getting a little more serious about the positive and pro-sobriety activities that you are already involved in.


Plan Your Own Events

Who says that you have to go along with what everyone else is doing? If you are unimpressed with the selection of events, parties, gatherings, or festivities around you, then get creative and plan your own shindig. Schedule a sober cookout or a “dry” pool party. Invite people who you know will respect the no alcohol rule, and make sure you inform them in advance that this is the one party of the summer which everyone will remember, no one will get sick from it, and no one will regret it the next morning!

Help Others and Work on You

One of the best ways to build and maintain sobriety through the summertime is to continue working on yourself. You can do this in lots of ways such as church, going back to school, attending support groups, etc. And another great way to work on yourself is to dedicate your spare time to helping others. Few activities are as rewarding as that. When you commit your spare time to volunteering, mentoring, and assisting others through their own struggles, whatever they happen to be, you boost your own strength in your sobriety.

If All Else Fails… Don’t Be Afraid to Seek Help

Last but not least, if you do become overwhelmed and you do happen to slip up and start drinking alcohol again, don’t be afraid to speak up and seek help. Don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed about it. A relapse does not have to be the end of all of your hard work (although it can mean the end if you don’t seek help right away). Should a relapse occur, seek the help of your family and friends who support you, and contact your treatment center right away. Get help before the relapse gets out of control.

Reviewed and Edited by Claire Pinelli, ICAADC, CCS, LADC, RAS, MCAP



After working in addiction treatment for several years, Ren now travels the country, studying drug trends and writing about addiction in our society. Ren is focused on using his skill as an author and counselor to promote recovery and effective solutions to the drug crisis. Connect with Ren on LinkedIn.