Summertime often involves many social events, the beach, vacations and warm weather. This can be a challenging season for those in early sobriety. However, this Summer poses unique obstacles in that most people have been more isolated due to COVID-19 lockdowns in the previous months. Businesses are now starting to reopen and smaller social events are being planned. For those with Substance-Use Disorders (SUD), the social isolation may have prevented them from the temptation to use substances. For others, the isolation may have posed more of a challenge because they tended to use when alone. Work schedules have also changed as well as economic situations, which may have increased stress for many individuals.
Now is a time when sober individuals can start thinking ahead to how they are going to handle social scenarios that they have not been dealing with for months. It is important to talk about cravings that may be occurring. Even improved moods may lead to a desire to “magnify” these positive emotions and to “celebrate”. The memories of many individuals with SUDs is much like Teflon- all of the negative experiences seem to slide away and they are left with a romanticized version of their using days. It is crucial to stay connected to their recovery program, attend therapy, receive treatment for co-existing conditions (anxiety, depression, etc.), engage in self-care and work at re-programming their association with Summertime events.
The In-Home Addiction Treatment (IHAT) model supports clients in coordinating all of their recovery resources and creating an organized Treatment Plan. The IHAT Institute provides training for healthcare professionals who are interested in learning about this adaptable and innovative model of addiction treatment. The IHAT model has also adjusted well to remote and telemedicine needs of this pandemic and has been able to provide comprehensive care to clients with SUD during this unprecedented time.
Here are some tips for sober summertime fun!
1. Set limits in terms of the amount of time spent in heavy drinking/using environments
2. Bring along a friend or other loved one to a social function for additional support
3. Choose not to attend events that would increase chances you may drink
4. Leave the event early
5. Be sure to have transportation options that will allow you to leave the event early if necessary
6. Have a friend who you can call for support during the event and take a “time out”
7. Avoid spending time with “toxic” relationships
9. Spend time with your friends in activities that would not involve alcohol or drugs
10. Be honest about your emotions
11. Avoid “people pleasing”, as this involves trying to keep other people happy while neglecting your own needs
12. Let go of other’s expectations and opinions-If you have a healthy relationship, then they will respect your personal choices
13. Just say no to events that you feel will be stressful
14. Engage in summer activities that you enjoy that do not involve alcohol and invite friends along
15. Set a clear end time for events
Recovery from addiction is an opportunity to replace past intoxicated Summertime memories with new sober experiences. Individuals with SUDs can begin to gain confidence in their social skills and realize that their sober life is full of excitement and wonder- but now they can be completely in the moment.
By: Sarah Allen Benton, MS, LMHC, LPC, AADC