Developing an effective sober summer strategy can help you manage triggers and fortify your sobriety.

While summertime provides many opportunities to strengthen your recovery through sober activities, the season also presents potential challenges that could trigger relapse.

Avoid Challenging Situations

Concerts, festivals, family gatherings, neighborhood celebrations, lake outings with friends – your first couple of sober summers may require you to skip events that involve open bars or a heavy focus on alcohol consumption. You are free to skip a year and focus on yourself, specifically on your health and well-being. The best way to manage triggers is to avoid them altogether, especially early in recovery. Don’t be afraid to say no to invitations to events and gatherings that you know likely involve triggers. Keep building on your recovery foundation and reevaluate next year.

Have an Exit Plan

If you do attend a gathering where drinks are served, prepare yourself for the event. Walk through potential party scenarios and how you will react. Plan your arrival and departure, who you will spend time with – and who you will not. Bring your own nonalcoholic drinks, and have an exit or strategy if you start to feel anxious. Make sure you have your own transportation so that you can leave quickly if you feel uncomfortable. Call your sponsor before the party and walk through the plan. And, bring the address of the nearest 12 step meeting, just in case. Having a plan will help you stay focused on your desired outcome.

Practice Self Care

A key element of a sober summer strategy and recovery in general must include essential practices that ensure a healthy body and mind. These practices also feed into intentional self-care. In addition to your recovery program, take care of yourself by eating a healthy diet, getting enough rest, practicing mindfulness and staying active or exercising daily. Learn more about a holistic recovery approach.

Stay on Schedule

Be sure to stay on your recovery schedule as best you can. Vacations, children out of school and family plans can throw summer schedules into chaos. Be mindful to keep your 12 step meeting schedule, church if you attend, and self-care routine including meditations or workouts. Keeping your daily routine on track will help you stay focused on recovery. Stay connected to your sponsor and recovery community.

Embrace Your Sobriety

Share your sober summer plan with your family and friends. Communicate with them so they can help and support your recovery. A supportive family can make the difference between recovery and relapse. Together, you and your loved ones can work as a team to recover together and avoid relapse.

Have Fun

A sober summer strategy brings countless opportunities to enhance your sobriety and relish your recovery. Whether you are new to recovery or firmly in long-term sobriety, explore summer experiences and activities that set you up to engage in the best that summer has to offer and improve your overall health and wellness. Many 12 step programs offer an abundance of summer events and activities. Explore our complete guide to sober summer fun.

Remember that recovery provides the opportunity to enhance your summer experience in entertaining, powerful and hopeful ways. Make every effort to leverage your ongoing support community and recovery plan. It will empower you to have some sober summer fun while staying focused on your recovery journey and avoiding relapse.

Explore Valley Hope’s blog for extensive resources and information for loved ones, families and the recovery community.

Do you need information on other recovery subjects? If you have a related topic you would like covered, please submit your ideas to recovery@valleyhope.org.

If you feel like you need help immediately, the Valley Hope team is available 24/7 at (800) 544-5101. If you or a loved one are ready to stop drinking, take an online assessment and begin your journey to a healthy, happy life in recovery today. Get help. Find hope.

For more information on addiction, treatment and recovery, please visit valleyhope.org or for help 24/7 call (800) 544-5101.