As temperatures soar over a year after COVID descended on the United States, people in recovery and staff members at addiction centers know that a pandemic is not the only safety concern: summer is prime time for drug abuse and substance use disorders.
Overdoses had already been increasing before the pandemic hit. And according to available data from the CDC, over 88,000 overdose deaths in the United States are estimated from September 2019 to August 2020—the largest 12-month overdose death rate of all time. The horrifying world of addiction is relentlessly descending on people faster than ever.
While the holidays are known to cause an uptick in depression and suicide, people instead come out to play in the warmer months, and they take their party favors with them. It’s recommended that people significantly increase their drug or alcohol prevention efforts, if needed, toward the end of spring (Palamar et al. 949). Especially for people newly in recovery, summers of sobriety can be plain tough if substance abuse is a big personal concern.
Very few people are aware about the best ways to get rid of these addictions. If you know a person who is addicted to drugs or alcohol, you must contact an alcohol intervention specialist who has sufficient experience to treat this serious disease.
Whether it’s smoking marijuana out on the stoop, taking drugs at concerts, or imbibing prescription drugs recreationally, it’s almost common knowledge that partying increases in the warmer weather. This is even more cause for concern as medical emergencies rise. These cases are not only due to diminished pandemic fear and the shirking of standard precautions from a false sense of vaccine security, but the so-called “normal” drug- or alcohol-related events that surge in the summer months.
A medical emergency can swiftly follow a first-time dose—or the first dose in a while—of drugs or alcohol. And according to six years’ worth of data (2011–2017) from National Surveys on Drug Use and Health of nearly 400,000 people aged 12 and up, even the first-time use of marijuana, cocaine, LSD, or ecstasy was significantly more likely to be in the summer compared to other seasons.
With all the apparent drug and alcohol slip-ups related to summer, it logically follows that exposure and temptation will be higher. It also makes sense to engage in a bit of extra preparation to maintain your recovery.
Staying Clean For The Long Term
Keeping your recovery at the forefront doesn’t have to mean a “boring” summer. Planning ahead and prioritizing the activities that are truly meaningful to you could lead to the upcoming sunny season being your favorite yet. Following are some reminders on how you can have an amazing experience with summertime sobriety.
Engage in Activities That Help You Feel Your Best
Taking drugs or alcohol may be strongly associated with certain activities (and you should try to be very aware of the connections), but it’s an activity in itself, too. Most of the time, you can’t just make cuts to your routine and expect to not miss something beneficial you were getting out of those experiences, even if they were ultimately damaging to your life and health.
Before summer hits, it’s a great idea to discover or rediscover activities that you find to be genuinely fun. It’s important that these activities or hobbies are engaging and don’t cause you to dwell on something that you’re lacking.
Stick With Your Recovery Plan and Community
As humans, social connection is key for our well-being. Luckily, we can achieve it without the false sense of community or friendship that drugs and alcohol provide. It’s as important as ever to stay in touch with your sponsor or friends who embrace the sober lifestyle with you. Having an outline for your fun (for the night or for the long term) as well as a couple of people you can call if you’re really struggling can help.
Notice Rumination Before It Gets Worse
Rumination is being stuck in a repetitive thought cycle. The bothersome thoughts tend to be negative and incredibly difficult to break from. Rumination also leads to substance abuse and is common in recurring disorders like depression and anxiety. If you don’t have specific coping mechanisms or recovery resources that help you deal with rumination, it’s time to get some. Have your tips ready at a moment’s notice, especially when “healthy habits” are the last things on your mind.
Have Tunnel Vision for Your Long-Term Happiness
If you have already been through a drug treatment program or spent any time in rehab center meetings, you are probably familiar with these concepts already—but it doesn’t mean you don’t need to give yourself reminders frequently, if not daily.
On that note, the minutes or hour before heading out or seeing friends is a key time to reacquaint yourself with why you are in recovery or how much better your life is without drugs or alcohol. Concerning yourself with the benefits and health of your new lifestyle can be a good way to not get caught up with what others might be doing or talking about.
Know Which Events—And People—to Pass Up
You probably can relate to situations where the urge to use drugs or alcohol is overwhelming. Humans already experience “decision fatigue” with choices like what to eat for dinner—don’t let yourself think for a moment that a raging party or catching up with friends at a bar is going to be much easier this time around.
If the event involves interacting with people with addiction or friends that can’t or won’t be mindful of your recovery and your needs, it makes a lot of sense to politely decline.
Don’t Be Ashamed If You Need Help Again
It never hurts to know your available treatment options no matter the stage in your recovery. In fact, it’s something to be proud of if you know when it’s time to seek help again, especially if it’s before a relapse (but even if it’s after).
While an inpatient treatment program might seem like too much the second or third time around, it depends on your situation and the substance. If you are attending outpatient treatment or meetings at a drug rehab center, the consistency might be better for you than going it alone.
Especially in our younger years, we can underestimate the swiftness and strength with which we can find ourselves with a substance use disorder, even if we have already received drug treatment in the past. But just a little extra preparation can lead to summers that are incredible—and just so happen to be sober.
Seeking addiction treatment doesn’t have to be a hardship during an already difficult time. Addiction Treatment Group is available 24 hours a day to help you or your loved one get their life back. Make your recovery the top priority at an alcohol addiction recovery center in Florida or wherever you reside on the East Coast. Call us today at (888)-972-8513.