Summertime is the perfect time for hosting or attending a summer cookout, but as a newly sober person, the idea of going to this type of event might be overwhelming or uncomfortable. It’s important to note that attending these types of social events will get easier as time goes on, but right now, you don’t need to feel pressured to attend a summer cookout if you feel like it will jeopardize your sobriety.
On the other hand, if you are newly sober but you think you can handle attending a cookout with your friends or family, there are many different ways you can prepare yourself to ensure that you arrive sober and leave the same way.
Summer and Alcohol: A Popular but Dangerous Mix
Summertime is a popular time for alcohol consumption and binge drinking. Unfortunately, it can also be one of the most dangerous times of the year to abuse alcohol.
According to the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), more teens use alcohol and marijuana for the first time during the months of June and July.1 This is most likely due to unsupervised time while parents are at work and fewer recreational activities to keep kids busy, like school sports or clubs.
Excessive alcohol consumption can also be extremely dangerous for younger and older adults in the summertime. Warmer weather, lots of time out in the hot sun, water activities, and bonfires can all be disastrous or even deadly when the mix involves alcohol and intoxicated individuals.
Why Is staying Sober in Social Situations Difficult?
Attending social events as a sober person can be difficult initially. There are several reasons for this.
- Peer pressure – When everyone is drinking around you, it’s much more difficult to refuse a drink or be the only one sober. Fortunately, as you progress through your sober living program, you’ll soon find out that there are many people in the world who choose not to drink alcohol for various reasons. You’re not alone in your sobriety and there’s nothing wrong with choosing to stay sober. You don’t have to feel pressured to join in on the drinking and if you feel constant pushing and pressure from your friends, it might be a good idea to find some friends who will respect your decision not to consume alcohol.
- The idea that drinking with everyone will be more fun – Many alcoholics maintain the idea that they can’t have fun or relax without a drink in their hand. During drug rehab and even now while you’re enrolled in your transitional housing program, you’re probably well aware that this mindset is a result of negative attitudes and behaviors. As you continue to work to replace these negative thoughts and behaviors in your life, you’ll find that your idea of “fun” changes and that sober living is actually much more rewarding.
- Insecurity – It’s always easier to compromise your personal values when everyone else is, but insecurity should not keep you from maintaining your sobriety. It may take you some time to adjust to the idea of being the “sober one,” of saying “no” every time you are offered a drink, or of explaining why you’re not drinking, but as time goes on, you’ll become more comfortable in your newfound sobriety and you’ll be confident in who you are as a sober person.
- Constant temptation – Summer cookouts and similar events can be very tempting for someone who is newly sober. They may even bring up some memories and triggers that make you want to crack open a beer and reminisce about old times. If attending an event like this will be a stumbling block for you, it’s better to just forego it altogether. But if you want to attend, bringing a sober friend along with you is a great way to stay accountable to your sobriety goals.
Tips for Staying Sober at Your Summer Cookout
If you are currently enrolled in a sober living program and are newly sober, attending a summer cookout is a great way to practice saying “no” to alcoholic beverages, but you’ll want to make sure that you take precautions. Here are a few specific ways you can prepare for the event and safeguard your sobriety.
- Bring a sober friend with you.
Ask one of your sober living roommates to attend the cookout with you. This way, you’ll have someone physically with you to provide backup and support if you need it and you can practice keeping each other accountable in a challenging social situation.
- Practice saying no.
Be realistic about the fact that someone may offer you an alcoholic beverage. If you practice saying “no” before that actually happens, you’ll be much more likely to follow through when it does. Whether you simply refuse or offer a brief explanation of why you’re not drinking, the person offering is very likely to respect your decision and not offer again. If they are pushier about it, just be prepared with a firmer response.
- Be ready to call your sponsor if you need to.
If something comes up and you need immediate support, always have your phone handy and be ready to call your sponsor. Inform him or her about where you’re going, what time you’ll be there, and that you might need some backup. Chances are, he or she will be happy to be on call and may even offer to attend the event with you.
- Plan for how you will respond to triggers.
Understand that you’ll probably encounter some triggers that may stir up memories or cause some cravings. Plan in advance for how you will respond to those triggers and don’t be afraid to leave the cookout early if you need to.
- Bring your own non-alcoholic beverages.
If you know that your friends or family will most likely only supply alcoholic beverages, plan ahead and bring your own drinks. You could also plan to bring a cooler packed with water, iced tea, and lemonade to share with others who may not want to drink alcoholic beverages.
Attending a summer cookout can be a challenging experience if you are newly sober but using the tools you learned in rehab and relying on the support of sober living roommates, sponsors, and other support figures in your life, you can gradually learn how to attend social events without giving in to cravings, triggers, or peer pressure.
If you’re struggling to maintain your sobriety this summer, our transitional housing programs and recovery support services can help. Call Eudaimonia Recovery Homes today to learn more about our sober living homes in Austin, Houston, and Colorado Springs.