Summer is full of sunshine, get-togethers, barbecues, weddings, and general good times– but it doesn’t have to bring a sense of dread along with it. Sober living can be harder in the summer months, but as long as you have a plan or two in place, you can have one of the best summers of your life.

There is not a one-size-fits-all solution for staying sober, so you’ll want to form a plan from this article that fits your personality and style. You can safely opt out of most parties or events where alcohol will be present, but there are some summer events you won’t want to miss out on. By adapting these methods to your own life, you won’t need to miss out on your friend’s wedding, your son’s barbecue, or your favorite band playing a show at a venue serving alcohol.


The Art of No

Although your continuing recovery is different from everyone else’s, there are a few universal techniques all recovering addicts can utilize. The most important technique for enjoying a happy, productive, and sober summer is learning the art of ‘no.’

Sometimes keeping with a polite, simple ‘no’ when you’re offered a drink is enough, but that won’t always be the case. If one or two polite ‘no’s won’t do the trick, there are a few extra polite, but firm steps you can take.

Nova Scotia’s Addiction Services website offers an easy, straight-forward guide:

– Repeat yourself – Just a firm and simple ‘no thanks’ is enough for this step.

– State why – Give a reason for saying no, such as having to go to work in the morning, wanting to spend time with your family, or simply that you’re in the recovery process.

– Turn the tables – If it escalates to this point, try asking, ‘why do you care so much that I don’t want a drink?’

– State the truth – Gently tell the person that they’re pressuring you and it’s making the situation difficult for you.

– Change the subject – Saying something like “no thanks, but I am ready for a burger now” can easily diffuse a situation.

– Be proactive/walk away – If you feel the situation is more than you can handle, be proactive and leave before the pressure becomes too strong.

– Accept the person, reject the behavior – If someone is giving you more trouble than you’re willing to deal with, try saying, “I respect your choice to drink, please respect mine not to.”

No matter who you are, learning the right way to say ‘no’ in each situation is essential. You’ll almost inevitably see people at barbecues and weddings this summer who are drinking, so you’ll need to be prepared to politely rebuff them.

Have an Escape Plan

An escape plan is also important. We touched upon it in the last section, but always have a reason for leaving. It’s best to be honest. You probably do want to wake up early or see your family, or maybe you just have plans later in the evening.

Bringing your own car to these summer events is essential. That way you can leave exactly when you need to and not rely on anyone else. If you don’t have your own vehicle, program the number for a reliable local taxi cab company in your phone and call them 10-15 minutes before you think you will need a ride.

No matter what your exact situation is, be prepared. As long as you have an escape route in mind, you can enjoy a summer event to its fullest, until it’s time to leave.

Make Your Own Fun

Once you opt out of several summer events to avoid temptation and make healthy choices, you might feel like you’re missing out. There’s an easy solution to that problem– make your own fun.

Plan a barbecue, game night, or pool party with your sober friends and support group. You can even invite your friends who still drink, just be upfront with them about the kind of event you’re planning. This kind of event is also a great opportunity for your recovering friends to meet your non-recovering friends, which will only strengthen the group of supportive people surrounding you.

Plan at least a few of these events so you have a few guaranteed fun and safe occasions to look forward to throughout the summer. You can make your own sober living summer plan.

Supplemental Techniques  

Sober living can be tough in the summer months, with events you won’t want to miss, despite alcohol being involved. Our guide helps you plan, cope & escape temptation

– Have an ally – If you’re headed to a friend’s wedding or a loved one’s barbecue and you know there will be temptation, bring another sober or recovering friend with you. Better yet, plan to meet several of those friends at the event. These friends will help you stay strong and, if need be, leave the situation.

– Use a substitute – For those summer events where you can’t control or predict every element, it’s best to keep a non-alcoholic drink in your hand at all times. Water, soda, non-alcoholic punch, and other beverages all work fine. This works for two reasons: it lets you maintain the physical sensation of drinking liquid, and it also allows you to say “no thanks, I already have a drink” when someone offers you an alcoholic beverage.

– Set summer goals – Setting summer goals can help ease that “missing out” feeling. Whether it’s exercise, reading a book, meditation, journaling, or cooking new food, you’ll be able to focus on improving yourself and enriching your life instead of focusing on some of those potentially hazardous summer events.

– Stay Accountable – Reach out to “safe,” trustworthy friends who will hold you accountable for your actions.  Be honest, be vulnerable, be humble, open up, and share yourself with them. And, of course, provide that same service for others.

Let This be Your Best Summer Yet!

Summer doesn’t have to be a non-stop barrage of temptations and obstacles. Sober living doesn’t have to be harder once the weather gets warm.

Once you have a solid plan, including escape strategies, supportive friends, and coping methods in place, you’ll be on track to have one of the best summers of your life. There’s no need to feel like you’re missing out.

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