Ten Tips For Staying Sober This Summer
I think it's pretty safe to say that the summer of 2020 probably wasn't the best time for most people worldwide. With the combination of COVID and stay-at-home orders, many people didn't do much for their social life. Sure there were Zoom meetings, and for a time, they were fun, but like most things related to COVID, they got old pretty quick. This year, many people feel ready to get back out there and start to live their social lives again.
While the prospect of returning to parties and gatherings seems exciting, albeit a little foreign at this point, for people who are in recovery from addiction, the idea of socializing in large groups can bring up many concerns. As someone who has navigated the muddy waters of staying sober while attending summer get-togethers, I have a list of tips and tricks that have helped me remain sober throughout even the most awkward occasions.
1. Always set up an escape plan.
If you are going to an event that will have people drinking, then you need to set up an escape route ahead of time. If you have kids, they are always an excellent excuse for leaving a party early, and no one ever questions this one. If not, then don't be afraid to get creative or even tell the truth! If you want to head out early, there is nothing wrong with that.
2. If possible, bring a sober buddy for support.
Having someone with you that will also be sober can make such a vast difference in social gatherings. I don't know about you but being the only sober person in a social setting isn't very fun. Now that I'm sober, I don't particularly enjoy being around drunk people; they aren't as funny as I thought they were when drinking. A sober buddy can help offer you support and be someone you can talk with on the same wavelength.
3. If you feel too uncomfortable, leave early.
If you ever get into a situation that you feel uncomfortable in, there is no shame in just leaving; this is the smart thing to do. There is nothing wrong with getting somewhere and deciding that you'd be better off not staying. If the person that invited you is genuinely your friend, they will understand. If they don't understand, then that is their problem, not yours. When living a life of recovery, sobriety needs to come first. Anyone that truly cares about you will understand.
4. If you think it's too much, say no and don't go.
There have been invitations that I have had to turn down since getting sober. I have said no for various reasons—anything from it just not sounding fun to it being something that could jeopardize my sobriety. When I decided to commit to living a sober life, I realized early on that there would be certain things I could no longer do if I wanted to stay sober. In the beginning, this sometimes felt like a sacrifice, but over time I have learned that nothing is worth sacrificing my sobriety over.
5. Forget about the fear of missing out.
Fear of missing out is something we have all experience from time to time. It isn't an enjoyable feeling, but it is a common occurrence. In the days of social media, this phenomenon has become ever more present in people's daily lives. Seeing glamorous vacations and fun parties all over your social media feed can lead you to believe your life is boring. It's important to remember that it isn't healthy to compare our everyday lives to other people's highlight reels. Life isn't going to be exciting all of the time, and that's ok!
6. Plan something special for the following day.
I have sometimes found it helpful to plan something exciting or unique the morning after going to a social event where there will be drinking. Knowing that I had something extraordinary planned for the next day has often helped me to stay sober. I have never woken up the morning after not drinking and regretted not having a hangover.
7. Explain yourself, or don't! It's up to you.
There have been times in my recovery journey where I felt the need to explain my not drinking to other people, and other times, I decided to keep it to myself. For whatever reason, alcohol is one of the only drugs you have to explain why you don't use it instead of why you do. I have found that when I am open about my sobriety and recovery, most people are very supportive and accommodating. I have never had someone push the thought of me having a drink after explaining to them I no longer drink because I used to have a drinking problem. If you aren't comfortable with telling people, you used to struggle with addiction, that is ok too, it's no one's business but your own, and quite frankly, you don't owe anyone an explanation as to why you choose to stay sober.
8. Explore the wonderful world of non-alcoholic beverages.
Since quitting drinking, I have found that there are so many other drinks out there that taste great and don't contain alcohol. Some people enjoy alcohol-free mocktails or various types of drinks. Several restaurants have been embracing the alcohol-free drink trend, so why not explore what they have to offer.
9. Eat. All. The. Food. And have seconds on dessert!
I don't know if it's just me, but I have become a food fanatic ever since getting sober. I love going out to eat and trying new types of food. I also love dessert... like a lot. So now that you're sober, why not shift the attention from drinking at parties to eating at parties because, honestly, it's a lot more fun.
10. Remember why you got sober in the first place.
The biggest thing that has helped me to maintain my sobriety has always been to try and remember why I decided to stop drinking in the first place. Sure, alcohol may have been fun for a while initially, but once it got to the point that it was destroying my life, it was no fun at all. If anything, it was the worst thing of my life, and I am grateful to have kicked it to the curb and left it behind me.
While navigating a sober lifestyle during a global pandemic may not be the easiest thing on your to-do list, I can tell you that the rewards will be well worth your efforts if you stick to it. It may not always be fun when having to say no to a party, but you know what is even less fun? Living a life of active addiction. So create a plan, follow your dreams, and achieve your goals because that's what living a life of sobriety is all about and having a drink at some party is defiantly not worth throwing all of that away. So stay safe and have fun, and don't be afraid to reach out for help if you need it.