Warm and exhilarating days at the beach or the lake, salty snacks, cold desserts, and extended time with family and friends; many people look forward to the summer months throughout the year.
For others, though, they may not feel so light-hearted about the approaching season, as the launch of summer often brings various potential threats to their hard-earned sobriety.
Don’t let those who don’t fully understand the nature of addiction tell you to “just relax” or “don’t worry about it” when it comes to preparing yourself for these various gatherings. It takes an incredible amount of time, effort, mental and physical strength to overcome addiction, and you’ve done it; but the work isn’t quite over yet.
Now, it’s time to start preparing yourself for how you can best maintain your sobriety this summer, even if you end up in a situation where you experience a trigger or temptation.
What are addiction triggers?
Addiction triggers are specific situations, experiences, suggestions or prompts that tempt or “trigger” someone to engage in substance abuse or relapse into addictive behaviors.
There is no one kind of trigger, as the exact factors that affect a person will vary widely based on each individual, their personal history and their own unique experiences with the substance. A situation or cue that deeply triggers one person might not even slightly influence another.
There are, however, a variety of categories that triggers are commonly placed into, including:
- Environmental triggers (places associated with past substance use)
- Emotional triggers (overwhelming feelings or mental health issues)
- Social triggers (peer pressure or being around still-using acquaintances)
- Internal triggers (such as cravings)
- External triggers (such as specific smells or paraphernalia)
- Routine triggers (engaging in activities once intertwined with substance use)
- Withdrawal triggers (for those in recovery from substance abuse)
During the summertime, specifically many of these triggers seem to be present in abundance. The added frequency of social gatherings and parties can bring more stress than joy as you learn how to navigate the triggers that will, at some point, surface in your life.
How to maintain sobriety
Relapse doesn’t have to be inevitable, and if it happens, it’s important to realize it’s not a sign of failure. That moment of stumbling may actually be a vital turning point in your recovery, but there’s no guarantee it will or has to happen. Here are some ways to prevent it:
1. Form a personal support system
Entrusting one or two family members or friends to attend various social gatherings or events with you is a highly effective way for avoiding relapse. If you try this, be sure to choose someone that understands and respects your journey, and who understands the basics of recovery.
2. Actively strive for a healthy, happy lifestyle
Many people are unhappy with one or multiple areas of their life, and they may complain frequently about it. However, when presented with solutions to their problems, they do not actually take the necessary action to bring about the changes they so desperately long for.
It’s true that sober summers are no less fun than intoxicated summers, but they are different. It will take time, effort and a genuine desire to build a happy, healthy and fulfilling sober life. Give yourself permission to meet new people, try new things and explore the world around you with your newfound strength and sobriety.
3. Plug into the local sober community
In many cities, there are established, sometimes even city-funded sober communities you can easily find with a quick search online. They put on a variety of sober events throughout the year, provide countless valuable resources and connect you to an incredible network of like-minded individuals.
Even if there isn’t a formally created group, there are people living sober lives everywhere. Whether you want to become the leader who launches a citywide sober community, or you simply meet a few people who you start hosting sober dinner parties with, this is a great option.
4. Have a professional support system
If you’re worried about having less fun this summer because you won’t be indulging in drugs or alcohol, it’s an understandable apprehension. It seems just about every event, especially during the summer months, either revolves around substances or is heavily inundated with them.
Some people experience mental or emotional challenges as they adjust to their newfound sobriety and that’s okay. This is a big change, and it’s one that no one is expecting you to make overnight.
We’re here to help you every step of the way.
Start prepping for summer today
Temptations can be random, sudden and intense, and without the proper support and strategies in place, you might find it increasingly difficult to avoid triggers when they show up.
Our team here at Silver Ridge Recovery is composed of multidisciplinary individuals who are highly trained in providing both mental health and substance use care. We specialize in helping adults from all walks of life overcome a variety of mental health and substance use disorders.
Give us a call today to speak with one of our intake specialists and learn more about the different ways we can help you maintain your sobriety.