It can be difficult to stay sober during the summer, as summer is a natural season of activities, parties, and events. Understandably so, summertime can feel complicated for people in recovery. Thankfully, there are many others who have overcome the seasonal challenges of sobriety. These individuals can provide guidance and support on how to maintain a healthy recovery throughout all the seasons of life. Before we explore how to stay sober this summer, it would first be helpful to lay a foundation for what recovery is. This way, you can continue to be proactive in your own healing and sobriety journey.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) defines recovery “as a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live self-directed lives, and strive to reach their full potential.” SAMHSA continues to explain that hope and resilience are the foundations of recovering healthily, stating, “Recovery is characterized by continual growth and improvement in one’s health and wellness and managing setbacks. Because setbacks are a natural part of life, resilience becomes a key component of recovery.”
Furthermore, SAMHSA details that there are four dimensions of recovery:
- Health: Overcoming or managing one’s disease(s) or symptoms, and making informed, healthy choices that support physical and emotional well-being
- Home: Having a stable and safe place to live
- Purpose: Conducting meaningful daily activities, such as a job, school volunteerism, family caretaking, or creative endeavors, and the independence, income, and resources to participate in society
- Community: Having relationships and social networks that provide support, friendship, love, and hope
The four dimensions of recovery encompass all that makes us human while simultaneously emphasizing overall health in all four areas. When your health is struggling, you are likely also experiencing difficulties in the other dimensions of recovery in your life. These four dimensions are important to keep in mind through all seasons of recovery, especially the ones that feel more challenging than others. This can help ensure that your priorities and goals help you sustain a healthy recovery while you stay sober this summer.
As stated in the four dimensions of recovery, maintaining overall health is vital to a healthy recovery. Health is a broad term that encompasses both mental and physical health, which are directly correlated. Finding activities that benefit physical and mental health can help keep your overall health balanced and nourished.
Some treatment centers, like Sage Recovery, incorporate many physical activities into their treatment plans while patients are in recovery. If there was a particular activity you enjoyed while in treatment, it could be a good idea to continue that activity to keep your mind and priorities aligned with your health goals. Some examples of activities that also benefit mental health include:
Humans are wired for community: We need each other to get through the peak moments and the darkest valleys. That being said, friendship and relational equity can sometimes be difficult to come by, especially if you are in recovery. Luckily, there are plenty of opportunities to find like-minded people who can help support you in your recovery journey.
One way to gain community is to participate in group therapy sessions or attend mutual-support groups. Both group therapy and mutual-support groups can create opportunities to meet people who understand the intricacies and complications that come with a life of recovery. It also gives a built-in community to share and celebrate victories while being inspired and encouraged by the victories of your peers.
Another way to build community is through your treatment center’s alumni programs. Many treatment centers, gather together regularly for alumni meetings or events. This allows the opportunity to bond with others who have completed the same treatment program to network together and share in each other’s struggles and victories.
Another key element to staying sober is to be able to identify your triggers. Understanding and identifying triggers is a critical part of recovery because it empowers you to know your limits. Everyone has limits in some way, and everyone’s limits are different. As a result, it’s important to remember that a trigger for you might not be a trigger for someone else, and vice versa. It’s also important to understand that triggers and limits are not always bad or forever. While some triggers are long-lasting, more often than not, triggers are temporary.
For example, if you know that going to a party is going to tempt you to drink alcohol, it’d probably be a good idea to stay away from parties that promote substance use. This doesn’t mean you can’t ever attend another party. It just might mean that, for now, the healthiest choice is to create boundaries that will keep you safe until you are further down the road of recovery.
If you need help recognizing triggers, it could be a good idea to talk with a licensed counselor. They will be able to help you name and acknowledge your triggers, as well as come up with a game plan on how to handle triggering moments. Working with a counselor at Sage Recovery can also help you to stay sober this summer by creating a game plan for lasting sobriety.
Here at Sage Recovery, we know how difficult recovery can be. Just like all other areas of life, there may be some seasons of recovery that are more difficult than others. We’re here to help! Whether you need individual or couples and family counseling, if you need support groups to attend, or if you need help deciding whether outpatient or residential treatment is right for you, we are here to support you. Our master’s level clinicians are extensively trained in various treatment techniques so that you can have a customized treatment plan that will help you heal healthily. Reach out to us at (512) 306-1394 whenever you’re ready. We’re ready to walk alongside you as you heal.