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Increase in Substance Use During the Summer & How to Have a Great Time Without Drugs & Alcohol

Summertime is the best time for BBQs, camping adventures, live concerts and more – all activities where drugs and alcohol are not only common but also a cultural norm. If these are some of your favorite summer activities, it can be difficult to avoid relapse, or at least to avoid feeling nostalgic about drug use or left out of the party, which can contribute to relapse later on.

Though you may not be able to avoid every party or festival where alcohol plays a prevalent role, you can do other things that put the focus on more positive pursuits, and you can make other choices that will protect you and your sobriety. Here are some ways to help you have an amazing substance-free summertime:

  1. Know your triggers. If you know what makes you feel most like relapsing then you know what activities, people and situations to limit in the coming months. If you can, cut them out entirely and or opt for sober versions that boost your recovery.
  2. Have a plan. If you can’t avoid an alcohol- or drug-laden event (for example, a company picnic where people will be drinking), have a plan for getting through it with minimal risk to your sobriety. For example, you might bring a sober friend or supportive family member with you to the event to help you feel more comfortable.
  3. Pick a summer-long project. Learn a new craft or skill. Take a class. Plan a workout goal or exercise regime based on summer activities like swimming or hiking. Do something positive – and sober – that you’ve been wanting to do for a while but just haven’t had the time, the right weather, or a good reason to do.
  4. Join forces with a sober friend. Get together with sober buddies often during the sober. Whether you’re just heading out for coffee after a meeting, planning something for the weekend, or going on a trip together, spending time with other people who are also avoiding drugs and alcohol can help you to relax and enjoy yourself with less worry about relapse.
  5. Work a summer job. Lots of jobs open up in the summer time, giving you an opportunity to improve your resume, take on a second job and earn a little extra money, or explore new career options. As long as you pick a job that further buffers you from drug use rather than bringing more of it into your life (e.g., opt for a corporate internship over a job at the water park where other employees may be more likely to get high or drink).
  6. Choose a new summer therapy. So many people go on vacation during the summer months that you may be able to find openings with a certain therapist or acupuncturist or get into a popular yoga class or meditation center that is ordinarily full. Explore something you haven’t tried before and improve your sober skills, or reconnect with a therapeutic intervention that has worked for you in the past.
  7. Volunteer. Giving back to the community can help you to get out of your own head and to invest your energy in improving the lives of others. This can contribute to your confidence and sense of self. It can also remind you daily just how lucky you are to be living without a drug and alcohol addiction and the possibilities that are available to you as a result.
  8. Become a sponsor. If you are active in the 12-Step community and have already worked the steps yourself, then it may be the right time to take on a sponsee. Helping someone else to take their first steps in recovery and work the steps can help to remind you of how far you have come and what you have to lose if you were to relapse now.
  9. Visit extended family or old friends. If you haven’t seen extended family members in a few years because you’ve been busy in addiction and recovery and/or they live far away, the summer is a great time to travel and plan a family reunion. If you’re concerned that being around family may actually be a trigger for relapse, choose instead to reconnect with old friends who were a part of your life prior to addiction.
  10. Plan a sober vacation. There are a number of companies dedicated to helping people in recovery plan amazing vacations that limit their interaction with drugs and alcohol and help them to avoid relapse. From sober cruises to sober music festivals to tours of distant cities set up with other sober people, you can meet new people in recovery and see the world while feeling safe and secure in your recovery – or you can opt for the do-it-yourself version. Take a sober buddy and head out into the wilderness or around the world – just make your choices as structured and low stress as possible to help limit triggers for relapse.

Get Support to Recover from Addiction

It is important to realize that there is no such thing as a minor addiction to drugs or alcohol. So many people underestimate the strength and rapidity of addiction, only to realize after much hardship that they are dependent on a substance. If you cannot imagine going to a party or festival without consuming alcohol or using a narcotic, then you might be addicted and not know it. You are not alone, though.

At WisHope, a peer-run recovery community organization in Wisconsin, we offer evidence-based peer recovery support services and recovery housing. We are committed to inspiring our recovery community members to become change agents within their communities by empowering each person to know that recovery is possible and that their story has the power to create positive and long-lasting change for themselves and others.  We are led by a team of professionals who are in long-term recovery, too, and we are passionate about providing innovative, evidence-based programs and services to meet the needs of our Wisconsin families and communities. We embrace all pathways to recovery and have served thousands of Wisconsin’s recovery community members since opening our doors in 2016. Apply for support today!

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