Summer and Sobriety: 7 Ideas for Alcohol-Free Fun
Summertime barbecues and all-inclusive vacations seem to be synonymous with alcohol consumption. So how does an individual in recovery maintain sobriety when those around them imbibe—sometimes heavily?
Try these 7 tips to stay sober—and still have lots of fun—during festivities and travel this summer:
1. Throw a Party
Summertime barbecues and pool parties typically involve alcoholic beverages, and it can be challenging to be in these environments when you’re in recovery. However, the easiest way to avoid being around alcohol is to host your own dry get together. You can keep it simple and fun. Grill some food, ask friends to bring side dishes, and have outdoor games ready. Crowd pleasers include cornhole, badminton, bocce ball, spikeball, ring toss, croquet, ladder toss, and horseshoes—or just toss a football or frisbee around.
2. Learn Something New on Vacation
Instead of spending your free hours on vacation at the poolside bar, spend that time—and money—on an incredible substance-free experience. There are classes to fit lots of interests nearly anywhere you go. Learn to whip up a new dish at a cooking class, try a dance class, take a photography workshop, or create something in an art lesson.
3. Go Camping
Sometimes a long vacation can seem daunting when you’re sober. How will you fill all of that rest and relaxation time? Opt for day trips or weekend getaways instead. Take a tent and some friends and leave the booze behind to spend a night or weekend sleeping under the stars. Connecting with nature can be refreshing and meditative, help you alleviate stress, and reduce the risk of depression.1 Plus, getting out in nature puts physical distance between you and potential triggers. While away the hours exploring your natural surroundings, hiking, playing card games, and cooking over the campfire.
4. Volunteer in Your Community
One of the most meaningful ways to spend your free time in sobriety is by giving back. Many nonprofit organizations offer special summertime programming and may be short volunteers. Inquire about opportunities somewhere you like to go, such as museums, libraries, or farmers markets. Some organizations offer volunteer vacations as well, where you travel somewhere new to perform acts of goodwill. The American Hiking Society, for instance, hosts weeklong vacations to build and maintain trails all over the country.
Summer is a great time to garden, and many individuals find gardening to be a rewarding hobby in sobriety. Whether you plant fruits and veggies, flowers, or both, gardening in your backyard, on your balcony, or in a community garden can give you a healthy dose of vitamin D, improve your mood, and allow you to focus on a long-term project, which is beneficial since recovery is a lifelong journey.2
6. Attend a Sober Meetup
Finding your people in sobriety allows you to connect with others who know exactly what it’s like to be in your shoes. While you should still attend meetings (or whatever mutual-help group events your aftercare plan may include), you should also make time for social sober outings. Research options online for local sober meetups near you.
7. Try a Different Exercise
There’s no question that exercise is beneficial for everyone. For those in recovery, physical activity can improve sleep, reduce alcohol cravings, boost your dopamine levels, and provide you with better health outcomes.3 Summer months allow you to move your body outdoors. Try yoga, rock climbing, stand-up paddleboarding, swimming, roller skating, biking, or kayaking, for instance.
The effects of not drinking manifest changes—for the better. In fact, contrary to prior thought that drinking red wine (in moderation), specifically, may be beneficial for your health, the World Health Organization (WHO) now says that when it comes to alcohol consumption, there is no safe amount that does not affect health.4
So wherever you find yourself this summer, it’s important to purposely practice sobriety. It can be enticing to be lulled into letting your guard down in the summer and bypassing the hard efforts. But sobriety doesn’t take time off. Be vigilant. Stay committed. Use the 7 steps above, and practice self-talk when you contemplate playing hooky from your mutual-help group, forgoing asking for support, or having a drink this summer.