Memorial Day and the Fourth of July are important days in the American calendar. But somehow as time has went by, it seems like the focus of these days has shifted from celebrating our country's independence, to just plain celebrating.
Summer never fails to remind us of our country’s obsession with alcohol. You can’t escape the beer ads that run nonstop in the weeks leading up to Memorial Day and the Fourth. You can’t escape the office parties and obligatory family BBQs filled with coolers of booze. And you can’t escape the fact that in our culture, people drink—even when you can’t join them.
You can, however, enjoy your summer sober. You might get frustrated. And you might be tempted to slip back into old habits. But regardless of what you might be thinking, you can do it.
Starting From Scratch
It’s hard to avoid all the weekend get-togethers and office parties, but ignoring them completely isn’t a permanent solution. And even harder still is confronting the summer head-on and enjoying yourself without giving into temptation.
Being sober doesn’t mean the end of all fun as you know it. Laughing, catching up with friends, watching fireworks… all of these things are free, and none require a buzz to enjoy.
So where do you start if you’ve grown accustomed to summer traditions that revolve around alcohol? First, know that it’s OK to decline an invitation to a party or BBQ, especially if you’re freshly sober. But also remember that you don’t have to avoid them forever.
If you’re going to a party where you know there will be alcohol, you’ll be better prepared to handle temptation in a productive way when you go in with a game plan. Planning provides comfort and can be a great relief from anticipatory anxiety.
Here are our tips to help you get ready:
In the days leading up…
- Attend extra support meetings in the week or two leading up to the event. Talk about what’s worrying you, open yourself up to others’ success stories, and ask people how they managed in similar situations.
- Read a blog or jump on a support forum.
- Plan for the day and give yourself a strict schedule. Include a couple of alternatives in case you’re feeling tempted and need to leave the celebration early.
- Write down your goals in a letter to yourself a week or more before the event. You can even mail it to yourself to make it seem more official. Plus, who doesn’t like getting an old-fashioned letter in the mail? On the morning of the big day, open and read your letter.
- Be prepared to answer questions. People who love and know you might not know you’re abstaining. They also might not understand that it’s a sensitive issue and may ask you “why?” Take a moment before the party to answers to questions about why you’re not drinking. If you’re the type to ruminate, skip the stress and write down your answers instead of trying to edit them in your head.
- Parties aren’t the only part of summer that can be stressful when you’re trying to stay sober. Time off from work and three-day weekends often mean you have extra time on your hands. Create a to-do list for your day (or days) off and create an incentive for completing the list. This could be a message or a day at the spa, or something as simple as take-out from your favorite restaurant.
At the event…
- Bring a friend who will commit to being sober with you, and who won’t pressure you into staying if you start to feel uncomfortable.
- Leaving early is OK. If you can, drive yourself or arrange for transportation so you can leave when you need to.
- Saying “no” is not rude.
- Bring your own non-alcoholic drink to share with others. Sometimes it’s the social element that pulls us into drinking. Bringing a N/A drink to share allows you to interact with your friends and start up a conversation that doesn’t revolve around alcohol.
- Feeling idle and itchy? Offer to help the host. Whether it’s cleaning or cooking, it feels good to help.
- If you start to feel tempted, take a break. Step away from the party, pull out a notebook and jot down your feelings. Acknowledge your temptation and create a quick game plan to overcome it. Maybe it’s asking uncle Bob about his new car, or introducing yourself to someone new. Create small, easy-to-accomplish tasks and set out to complete them.
When it’s over…
- Share pictures and videos of you enjoying the party sober. Send them to someone else who could use a little help staying sober today.
- Congratulate yourself. You’ve earned it.
Worried you might slip this summer? You’re not alone. Reach out to your supports at home and at Prelude.
If you or someone you love struggles with alchohol or drug addiction and would like more information about recover, do not hestitate to contact us. We'll meet you where you are in your journey and help you towards your individual end goal.