Sober Social Season is Here!

By Sarah Allen Benton, MS, LMHC, LPC, AADC

We are just about to enter into the post-Memorial Day social season!  This can be an enjoyable time—warm weather, vacation, kids out of school, outdoor sporting events…  This can also be a challenging time for those who are sober from a Substance Use Disorder (SUD). 

In addition, we live in a post-pandemic technological age where computers and text messaging have become the norm in terms of communication.  When given the opportunity for face-to-face communication, many may avoid the discomfort of talking socially to someone whom they don’t know by having a few drinks.  Social events can be opportunities to connect with others, meet people, and to enjoy the moment, but when alcohol and substance are placed in the equation those possibilities may be lost.  The truth is that one way to gain confidence socially is to avoid using, sit with the discomfort and practice talking to a stranger. 

It is really important for those in early sobriety stay connected to their recovery program, attend therapy, receive treatment for co-existing conditions (anxiety, depression, etc.) and work at re-programming their association with these triggering occasions.  This social season can be an opportunity to replace old intoxicated memories with new sober experiences.  This can also be a time to gain confidence in social skills and to realize that a sober life is full of excitement and wonder- and now one to be present for.   

Here are some tips for sober social season enjoyment:

1. Set limits in terms of the amount of time spent in heavy drinking environments
2. Bring along a friend or other loved one to a social function for additional support
3. Choose not to attend events that would increase chances you may drink
4. Leave the event early
5. Be sure to have transportation options that will allow you to leave the event early if necessary
6. Have a friend who you can call for support during the event and take a “time out”
7. Avoid spending time with “toxic” relationships
8. Practice stress reduction techniques during this time of year (ie, exercise, meditation, massage, etc.)
9. Spend time with your friends in activities that would not involve substances

10. Be honest about your emotions
11. Avoid “people pleasing”, as this involves trying to keep other people happy while neglecting your own needs
12. Let go of other’s expectations and opinions-If you have a healthy relationship, then they will respect your personal choices

13. Engage in summer activities that you enjoy that do not involve alcohol and invite friends along

The In-Home Addiction Treatment (IHAT) model is able to support individuals with SUD in their home environment.  For those who have unsuccessfully tried to get sober at home or even by going away to treatment, it can be life changing to have trained professionals who can effectively support them in navigating life stressors in real time in a familiar environment.  This summer season is a great time to get additional support in your community to navigate social events.  

The In-Home Addiction Treatment (IHAT) Institute is offering healthcare professionals an assessment-based certificate that enables them to support individuals in the recovery process through this unique and innovative modality.  It is an ideal time for healthcare professionals to try something different.  This certificate for IHAT providers is available in CT, MA, RI, NH, ME, VA, FL, IN, KY and soon to be in Georgia!


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