By Sarah Allen Benton, MS, LMHC, LPC, AADC
This summer poses many unique challenges with social events and drinking. The country is reopening following the pandemic, and a previous Summer shutdown. Most people have socialized in-person less frequently over the past, while research indicated that there was a rise in alcohol purchases and usage. While many people may be trying to “cut back” on their pandemic pattern of excessive drinking, the Summer social scene may add to the temptation. There are always excuses people can find to drink, and now that much of the stress of the actual pandemic is believed to be over, celebratory drinking will likely increase.
This past year has revolved around “Zoom” meetings and “House Party” social events. Remote work, academics and socializing became the norm. This new surge in social events can be opportunities to spend time with people and enjoy the season- many people are out of practice socially. As face-to-face events are on the rise, drinking may be a temptation to avoid post-pandemic interpersonal awkwardness.
It is really important for those in sobriety to stay connected to their recovery program, attend therapy, receive treatment for co-existing conditions (anxiety, depression, etc.) and work at re-programming their association with these Summer occasions. This Summer also offers an opportunity for growth in connecting with others without substances in order to gain confidence in their interpersonal skills and to realize that life can be full of natural excitement.
Here are some tips for sober summertime fun!
- Set limits in terms of the amount of time spent in heavy drinking environments
- Bring along a friend or other loved one to a social function for additional support
- Choose not to attend events that would increase chances you may drink
- Leave the event early
- Be sure to have transportation options that will allow you to leave the event early if necessary
- Have a friend who you can call for support during the event and take a “time out”
- Avoid spending time with “toxic” relationships
- Practice stress reduction techniques during this time of year (ie, exercise, meditation, massage, etc.)
- Spend time with your friends in activities that would not involve alcohol
- Be honest about your how you are feeling at the events
- Avoid “people pleasing”, as this involves trying to keep other people happy while neglecting your own needs
- Let go of other’s expectations and opinions-If you have a healthy relationship, then they will respect your personal choices
- Engage in summer activities that you enjoy that do not involve alcohol and invite friends along
If you have found that you are not able to cut back on your drinking on your own and want to learn ways to navigate your home and community environment, then the In-Home Addiction Treatment (IHAT) model may be the right fit for you! The IHAT Institute is also training staff in CT, MA, NH, ME, RI, FL and IN in this innovative and much needed form of addiction treatment. Now is the time to try something new and have a fresh start as we enter into this new chapter.