Many people—perhaps you yourself—are simply delighted when the summer rolls around. And it is easy to understand why. After all, the summer is filled with warm days and long evenings perfect for a variety of activities that aren’t always possible in the other seasons. 

But along with all the fun in the sun, summer can bring along a problem for people in recovery from a substance use disorder. As the weather heats up, a whole bunch of sugary snacks and desserts become mighty tempting.

That can be a challenge for a person in recovery because consuming sugar can lead to an increased desire to return to drugs or alcohol. 

At first blush, that might seem odd—or even unlikely. But the fact is sugar impacts your body and brain in ways that could set you on a bad path toward relapse.

So before you gobble down that delicious ice cream treat or other summertime delicacy, take a moment to learn more about the ways sugar can put your sobriety at risk.

One Craving Can Become Another

Sometimes a person in recovery finds themselves craving sugar. Not just from time to time, but all of the time. Suddenly, summertime treats might morph from something you enjoy from time to time to something you feel you must consume all of the time. 

Soon enough, you will start to notice some negative health impacts from all of that sugar, but you may still find it hard to stop eating sweet treats.

Why would that be? Well, it turns out that sugar can give the brain a less powerful version of the stimulation it used to get from drugs. Your substance use disorder has primed your brain for this sort of experience—and in the absence of actual drugs, your brain tries to replicate those feelings of elation that substances used to provide. Cravings for sugar can be mighty hard to shake—and could, in time, lead to stronger cravings for drugs or alcohol.

Snuffing Out a Substitute Addiction

Even if a craving for sugar does not lead you down a more dangerous path, it still might represent a substitute addiction—and that can be extremely frustrating after you have worked so hard to get and stay sober. 

Fortunately, there are some things you can do to interrupt your sugar cycle.

  • Eat on a regular schedule that does not leave too much time between meals.
  • Focus on nutritious foods from all the food groups.
  • Stick with whole (unprocessed) foods as often as possible.
  • Amp up the spiciness in your diet, which seems to cancel out the brain’s call for sugar.
  • Get enough restful sleep so that your body is less likely to crave the energy rush that can come from sugar.
  • Moderate your sugar intake by reading labels and making conscious choices about what you eat and drink.

All of that might amount to sticking to your recovery routines of eating healthily, sleeping restfully, and exercising regularly. Or you might have to think about making some changes like replacing a sugary snack with something healthier. Either way, staying on top of your sugar uptake in the summer—and throughout the year—is a good way to shore up the foundations of your sobriety.

We Won’t Sugarcoat This: Drug or Alcohol Use Requires Treatment

If you are struggling with drugs or alcohol, you might be reluctant to seek out treatment for a substance use disorder and possible co-occurring mental health disorders. The reason for your reluctance might be embarrassment or a sense that you can’t be away from your day-to-day life for any length of time or a stubborn insistence that you don’t really have a problem—even if deep down you know that you do.

We cannot overstate the importance of overcoming that reluctance. Ongoing drug or alcohol use will inevitably chip away at nearly every aspect of your life—your relationships, work or school, your physical and mental health, and more. The sooner you get yourself into treatment, the sooner you can regain your sobriety and stop the negative impacts of a substance use disorder.

At Wooded Glen Recovery Center—located in Henryville, Indiana—we help people regain and maintain their sobriety. To do that, we provide medically supervised detoxification to help you weather the challenges of withdrawal so you can get sober. We follow that with a rehabilitation program grounded in individual and group therapy sessions that offer mental health care, peer support, and the opportunity to learn strategies and gain resources that will help you stay sober. And we support alums of our programs as their recovery journeys get underway. We are committed to evidence-based practices supported by our expertise, experience, and empathy. 

No sugarcoating: Drugs or alcohol will upend your life. We can help you get your feet under you again.