Ways to Make the Most of Your First Sober Summer
Be Gentle on Yourself
This is the most important thing you can do in recovery no matter what the situation, but especially when facing sober ‘firsts’, like your first sober summer. Be kind to yourself, and treat yourself the way you would a loved one. Stay mindful of your needs, and advocate for yourself. Trust your instincts; it’s one of the greatest gifts of sobriety that we get to be aware of our feelings, emotions, and needs, so speak up for yourself and what you need. If an occasion or event feels like ‘too much’, it probably is! Make alternate plans or find time to indulge in healthy things you like to do instead. In recovery, we have the freedom of choice – enjoy this!
Isolating is toxic for anyone, and there is no need to go into hiding because you don’t drink. Stay close to your support network, and with other sober people. Whether it’s via online chats/support groups or face-to-face meetings, you can never have too many sober people in your life to support you! It helps to be connected to others who understand how you feel, and who are also having a good time without alcohol so you remember that you are NOT alone. Make people aware of how you’re feeling, and let them help you plan ahead. Ask for advice – no matter what you’re going through, someone else has walked this path before you and their experiences can help.
Be honest with others, but most especially be honest with yourself. It’s okay to have trepidations or concerns, or to feel like you’ll never have fun again without alcohol. Although this isn’t true, it’s important to acknowledge your feelings and share them with people who understand. If you find yourself feeling pressured to go to something and you don’t think it’s good for your newfound sobriety, talk about it. This is not a time to say yes to all your plans. You get to pick and choose which things are healthy for you, and which aren’t. If you feel like you want to drink, let someone know. Learning to open up to ourselves and to others is an essential part of a healthy and sustainable recovery.
Have a Plan
If you are going out, whether it be alone or with someone else, it’s always great to have a plan. Think about how you will get someplace – it’s usually a good idea to have access to your own transportation so you can remove yourself if you need to. Bring a sober or supportive friend with you to alleviate social pressure. Think about what you will say if someone offers you a drink. You don’t owe them any explanation, but it’s nice to be ready with what you’re comfortable saying. Let people in your sober network know where you are, so you can call them if you need support.