Last weekend was July 4th which means we are well into the summer season. As the weather heats up and lockdown restrictions lift, temptation and triggers are everywhere. For those in recovery, this can be an especially challenging time. Read on for how to avoid classic summer triggers and protect your sobriety.
Identify: What Are Your Biggest Triggers?
Triggers can be a person, place, event, or even memory that causes cravings and potentially lead you to relapse. Is it difficult to be at a social event without a beer? Hard to be around old friends without wanting to use? Or is feeling lonely a big issue for you? Identifying triggers is an important part of recovery.
Summertime tends to bring us face-to-face with our triggers more often. Why? Because the warmer weather means people are out and about. There are backyard barbecues, sporting events, beach days, and more. So, take some time to picture yourself in various situations. Can you say with confidence that you can attend a party without drinking? Is it harder to be alone? Decide what your biggest triggers are and how you might remedy them. Maybe it’s skipping events where you know people will be using. Or maybe it’s making sure you have someone you can talk to when you’re feeling low.
How to Enjoy your Summer in Sobriety
1. Limit Social Media
A 2012 study found that social media has a clear link to relapse. And it’s pretty easy to understand why. Watching everyone we know posting pictures of themselves partying and imbibing can be very triggering. And summer tends to be an even more popular time to post these types of things because people are generally more active. Not only can these images be triggering, but social media is commonly said to cause feelings of inadequacy, self-doubt, jealousy, loneliness, and depression. All of which can be strong triggers for using.
So, try to limit your exposure. Do a social media detox, limit the time you spend on it, and definitely unfollow or mute any accounts that trigger you or make you feel bad about yourself. No one needs that negativity in their life!
2. Give Back To Your Community
Volunteering is good for the soul. It has been proven to make people feel happier, less stressed, and less anxious. It combats feelings of anger and depression. Not only that, but giving back gives us a sense of purpose and fulfillment. If you are feeling lost or lonely this summer, consider volunteering. Not only are you helping others, but you are helping yourself and building a sense of community. By keeping yourself busy and giving back, you reduce all the common triggers of loneliness, depression, isolation, and stress. It’s a win win for everyone involved.
3. Make Sober Friends
Sometimes, feeling lonely can be our biggest trigger. But often the friends we had before our sobriety are only going to lead us down the path of relapse. Making friends who are also in recovery is great way to connect with like-minded people who know what you’re going through. Meetings are a great place to meet people, or try searching online for sober events or meetups near you.
4. Get Outdoors
What better way to enjoy the great summer weather than a run through the park, a hike, or an outdoor yoga session? Finding a way to get some fresh air each day is connected to multiple mental health benefits including fighting depression, reducing anxiety, and combating stress. Plus it has an added benefit of keeping you busy. So wake up early and go for that jog or morning swim. Your brain will thank you.
5. Have a Plan in Place for Unexpected Cravings or Triggers
Do you know what to do if cravings strike? Is there someone you can call, perhaps a sober friend or sponsor? If you are planning to go to a party where people will be drinking, make sure you have plans in place for the various triggers you may encounter. These tips for navigating parties or gatherings in sobriety can help.
We hope this list helps you avoid triggers and protect your sobriety this summer. However, sometimes despite our best efforts, we find ourselves in trouble. If you or a loved one are struggling with substance use or addiction this summer, or find yourself in a relapse, don’t wait to seek help. Contact us anytime. Our kind and supportive staff can talk to you about your options for help and treatment.
We are here for you.