Way back in 1969, the band Sly and the Family Stone had a big hit with a song called “Hot Fun in the Summertime.” It is, as you might expect, a song extolling the virtues of summer and all the fun to be had—and it really resonated with listeners, hitting #2 on the charts.

There is no denying that summer can be a fun part of the year, but for a person in recovery from a substance use disorder, it can also be a challenging time. So many summer activities involve alcohol, and that can add stress and temptation to what might otherwise be enjoyable time spent with family and friends.

It might seem like the best idea would be to avoid most of the summertime fun in order to protect your hard-won sobriety. But loneliness and boredom are also threats to your sobriety, so it probably is not a good plan to simply sit out all of the activities that are part of the summer experience. 

What you need, then, are some strategies that will help you feel prepared and in control of the situation throughout the summer months. You need a plan to have sober fun in the summertime.

Our Top Three Summertime Tips

Your plan for a sober summer does not have to be complicated. A few simple ideas can make it easier to maintain your sobriety while still enjoying the full range of summer activities. We have three ideas to share.

Sober summer tip one: Bring your own beverage

Headed to a friend’s backyard barbeque but worried that you will be tempted by the beer and other beverages on offer? Go ahead and pack your own beverages. Whether it is your refillable water bottle or a couple of cans of soda (keeping in mind that going easy on the sugar is a good idea in recovery), having your own drinks along is helpful both to you and to your host. Having a beverage nearby will make it less likely that other well-meaning partygoers will constantly be asking you if they can grab you a beer—and it means your host does not have to worry about having something specific on hand for you.

Sober summer tip two: Think about concessions in advance

Some wonderful summer activities don’t allow you to bring your own beverages to the festivities. An outdoor concert by your favorite band or an afternoon at the ballpark are a couple of examples of times when you might be faced with temptation in the form of the concession stand. Planning in advance what you might order is a good way to set expectations for yourself. It is also perfectly fine to ask your friends if they would be up for an alcohol-free experience. Your close friends—especially those with whom you have shared your recovery experience—will likely agree.

Sober summer tip three: Stick to your recovery routines

Summer can be a time when our usual routines fall by the wayside a bit—and that can be a good thing if we find more time to relax and have fun. But if you are a person in recovery, it is also important to maintain the routines that are providing ongoing support to the foundations of your sobriety. For example, you will want to continue attending recovery meetings, eating healthily, exercising regularly, and sleeping restfully. Sticking to these sobriety-supporting routines is just as important in the summer as it is throughout the rest of the year.

Sometimes the Best Move is Avoidance

By and large, the strategies we have noted above should help you enjoy the summer while protecting your sobriety. But there may be occasions when avoiding temptation means avoiding an activity, a group of people, or even just one specific person.

Speaking of temptation, remember how we noted that “Hot Fun in the Summertime” peaked at #2 on the charts? The song that kept it out of the top spot was by The Temptations and was called “I Can’t Get Next to You.” That is a pretty good description of the danger of hanging out with heavy drinkers, drug users, and people who might pressure you to drink or use drugs with them. To maintain your sobriety and avoid a relapse, you are best served by choosing not to hang out with—or, in the words of The Temptations, getting next to—those people.

The good news is that during the summer, you can likely find other activities to enjoy and other people to hang out with so that you can have fun and stay sober.

We Can Help You Reclaim Your Life from Drugs or Alcohol

At Wooded Glen Recovery Center—located in Henryville, Indiana—we offer evidence-based treatments for individuals struggling with substance use disorders as well as co-occurring mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, or a trauma-based issue. No matter the season, the time is always right to get sober. If you are ready to make a change for the better, we are ready to provide the combination of expertise, experience, and empathy that earned Wooded Glen a spot on the 2023 list of America’s Best Addiction Treatment Centers.