In summertime, there’s more barbecues, pool parties and trips to the beach, more outings to night spots and theme parks. There’ll be more coolers filled with beer and quiet moments on the beach or in parks when a private toke might go unnoticed. While this is a great time to enjoy the company of your friends and family, some people who have been trying to stay clean and sober may find too many opportunities to relapse. It may take a little more work than usual to maintain sobriety when presented with temptation every time you turn around.
To offer some encouragement right off the bat, here’s some of the benefits to staying clean and sober this summer.
1. You’ll save money. With mixed drinks or a glass of wine running from $6 to $15 each, a night out could set you back close to a hundred bucks, if you add a little food and tips. Depending on where you live, a single joint could cost you $8. A bag of heroin might cost you $5 or your life, depending on your luck. At any rate, staying clean and sober will leave much more money in your wallet. If a momentary slip were to end up up sliding you back into addiction, then you could lose everything you have. It’s not worth it.
2. You can actually make and keep friends who are not liabilities to you or their communities. Your relationships don’t have to be based on who has money for drugs or alcohol. These are folks who are much more likely to stand by you if there’s a problem.
3. Your family will actually enjoy having you around. You won’t be someone they have to keep an eye on and they won’t have to hide their wallets or other valuables. They don’t have to be worried about the new friends (male or female) you bring around, either.
4. You don’t have to wake up hungover or dopesick. Your first thought doesn’t have to be about whether or not you have the drugs or drinks you will need to get you through the day. You can actually think about positive things all day long, if you want to.
5. Your appearance will be much better sober than not-sober. Drugs and alcohol are very hard on your health and that shows up in your looks. It might not show for a while but it will eventually. Just find some before-and-after sobriety photos and you’ll be reminded.
6. You will have mental and physical energy to devote to whatever interests you most. If you’ve recently stopped drinking or using drugs, you may have to work out what will take the place of your former habits. Maybe it will be education or focusing on your kids or some project you’ve always wanted to take on like restoring a classic car or learning to play guitar or writing a novel. Or maybe now you have the energy to start a business. Whatever it is, as long as you stay clean and sober, you’ll have your full set of faculties available to take it on.
There’s many more. If you need more, just do an internet search to find a sober blogger and he or she will tell you all the ways life is better now that they are clean and sober.
Staying Sober and Drug-free This Summer
So what will it take to maintain your sobriety during these months of increased opportunity and temptation?
1. Anyone who’s been through it will tell you that you need to plan ahead before going to events where there might be temptations. You need to have a plan for the the event you expect and a plan for dealing with the unexpected. Know if there will be alcohol or drugs at an event you’re thinking of attending. If there will, should you even go? If you are early in recovery, you’d be better off skipping it. If you really need to be there – if, for example, it’s a family wedding with plenty of flowing alcohol – then you need to have a plan to stay sober. Find a sober buddy who will stick with you and help you make the right choices. Know how you will answer when offered a drink or if drugs show up suddenly.
2. Spend your time with people you know and trust, with people who know you’re not drinking or using drugs and who support you. If that means your activities are limited this summer, so be it. As you go along, you’ll find other activities your interested in and sober people you can enjoy them with.
3. Make your sobriety your absolute top priority. It’s more important than any event you might miss. By being sober, you will skip all the risks to your life, health and freedom.
4. Be honest about the fact that one little drink or hit or snort will matter. It always has and chances are good it always will. Settle that question right now and never budge on it.
5. Whatever practices have helped you to be clean and sober, continue them. Whether they are AA meetings, going to church, hobbies, writing in a journal, getting more fit or taking long walks every morning on the beach, keep them up. They’re important. You’re important. Don’t let up now.
6. If you feel like you’re missing out on events, plan your own sober events and invite your friends who also want to stay sober. Picnics, flying kites and volleyball do not in any way need to be accompanied by alcohol or drugs.
There’s plenty more reasons to stay sober and plenty more tips on maintaining that sobriety. These should help you begin to wrap your wits about your most important job if you are in recovery. Have a great, safe and healthy summer!