Being in recovery is never easy. The temptation is always there, in many facets of daily living. However, there are certain times of the year when the prevalence of partying seems to be more apparent than others. The summer season, with its BBQs, fireworks, trips to the beach, Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day celebrations, can increase the desire to drink or use. You don’t need alcohol or drugs to enjoy Labor Day, however, it helps to have an action plan. We’ve compiled some tips to help you enjoy the summer festivities, without putting yourself in a position where you are susceptible to a recurrence of use.
Saying ‘No’ is Always an Option
If you find yourself feeling particularly vulnerable, don’t put yourself in a situation where you will be surrounded by alcohol or drugs. Whether it’s a family member or long-time friend hosting the party, an invitation is not a contract, and you should feel free to politely decline or cancel if you do not think you will be able to handle the temptation. Your recovery and well-being should be your first priority, and true friends and loved ones will understand. Avoid situations with ‘friends’ who were connected to your past substance use.
Attend with a Sober Friend
If you do not want to decline an invitation, it can be helpful to have someone by your side who understands recovery. Bringing a friend who is on a similar path as you can be helpful if you are at an event that could trigger you to use alcohol or drugs. Come up with a plan beforehand to let your friend know if the temptation is becoming too great and you need to leave.
Are you going to be attending an event where you will be seeing family members or friends who don’t know about your substance misuse history? You never owe anybody an explanation for turning down a drink, but it can alleviate anxiety to practice what you want to say in case somebody offers you one, and you aren’t comfortable sharing that you are in recovery. Rehearse ahead of time how you will decline, whether it’s something as simple as “No, thanks, none for me tonight,” or “I’m going to pass, I’m not feeling too well.” If there are people who still continue to pressure you, put your exit strategy into action, whether it’s excusing yourself to use the restroom or leaving the venue entirely.
Stick to Your Post-Recovery Routine
Between outings and parties, weddings and vacations, it can be easy to lapse on the recovery routine you developed after leaving treatment. Even as the days get longer, it’s important to make a plan to stick to the things that have helped you sustain recovery. If you know you’re going on vacation, plan ahead – see if there are any fellowship meetings you can attend while away, or get the number of a mentor or friend from one of your meetings to check-in with. Make sure you have someone you can call or a place to go if you are feeling triggered or tempted.
Don’t forget to continue practicing the things in your routine that bring your stress down. Self-care is important, no matter how long you have been out of treatment. Paying attention to your basic needs – like eating a nutritious diet, exercise and getting enough sleep – can be difficult to do while you’re away or busy, but keeping your physical and mental health a priority is crucial. Something as seemingly inconsequential as being hungry and having low-blood sugar can cause irritability or anxiety, making an individual more impulsive and tempted by illicit substances. Having a healthy body and a positive frame of mind can make all the difference in the world.
Life of Purpose
To learn more about Life of Purpose and our academically focused substance use disorder treatment program, contact us at 1-888-787-7673.