Throughout the summer, people look forward to holidays like Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day. Most associate these holidays with time off from work, barbecues, and for many, drinking. This can be problematic if you are in recovery from a substance use disorder. However, summer doesn’t have to equal a relapse. Here are some suggestions for maintaining your recovery through the summer months and into the fall.
Structure Your Time
If you know that you are going to have free time this summer, it is helpful to create a weekly schedule to identify how you are going to spend your time. Doing so creates a sense of routine and can prevent boredom. When writing your weekly schedule, include something recovery related in your plans every day. This can include going to a 12-step meeting, going to therapy or an IOP group, praying or meditating, or talking with your sponsor, reflecting and journaling your progress. Practicing thoughtful recovery every day maintains the focus on your recovery during a season when it can be easy to slack off. Make sure to share your daily schedule with someone who can hold you accountable to following it.
If you know you are going to have a lot of free time this summer, plan to do something with it! The summer can be an excellent opportunity to begin volunteering or start a new job. If you are considering going back to school, summer classes at a community college are a great way to fill your time as well. If your fall will be free as well a volunteer opportunity or part-time job could lead to something more long term to help with your continually evolving schedule.
Know Your Options
If you are used to celebrating 4th of July with a beer in your hand or drinking on the beach every summer weekend, know that there are other ways to have fun during the summer. Many Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous groups have sober barbecues on Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day. Don’t knock it ‘till you try it; sober barbecues are a lot of fun! Since 12-step meetings are available around the world, you can swap your drink for a meeting when you’re on the beach.
Continue to Do What Works
Don’t slack off on the things that have been helping you stay sober all this time. It can be tempting to skip IOP and meetings when it’s nice outside, but that’s exactly what your addiction wants you to do! Ask your therapist, sponsor, parents, friends, and anyone else in your support group to help hold you accountable in attending the activities that are helping your stay sober.
Article Written by Shaylyn Forte, LPC, CAADC