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Addiction Expert Shares 7 Tips on How to Stay Sober During Summer Fun Season

These tips can provide motivation to you and loved ones to stay sober.


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As summer comes around, events like festivals, concerts, and holiday parties can often prove a challenging time for those wanting to embrace a sober lifestyle. To help combat the urge to drink, expert Thomas Isbell, co-founder and CEO of Sabino Recovery, a leading addiction and mental health treatment facility, guides us through seven tips to stay on a sober path.  

Tip 1 – Keep your reasons for being sober visible 

When surrounded by temptations, it is good to remind yourself why you are sober, and you can easily do this with something like setting your lockscreen as a photo of your reasons. This can help ground you in moments when you feel the pull to break sobriety. Whether it is a photo of your family, a picture of a checklist of your reasons, or a picture of yourself, a simple photo can help keep you in check and accountable for your recovery.  

Tip 2 – Have a sober buddy 

While it is not always possible to attend an event with another sober person, if it is possible, then this is a great option. Often, there are Facebook groups for those attending a festival sober and you can link up with these people beforehand. A sober buddy is someone you can talk to when things get difficult, and they will help you stay on track. If an on-site person is not an option, ensuring you have helplines saved on your phone you can easily call can make all the difference in avoiding a relapse. 

Tip 3 – Give yourself other sources of dopamine  

One important thing to focus on is increasing your dopamine levels through other healthy methods. Alcohol and drugs can easily become enticing if you do not have another source, so it is key to give yourself this boost elsewhere.  

While festivals or concerts may not provide the best arena for outdoor exercise, something small, like meditating before an event, can  set you up for success. Alongside this, eating nutritious food and a varied diet will help your brain stay on track and focused across any event or weekend away. If you can fuel yourself with healthy food that helps boost your dopamine levels, then you will have an easier time staying on the right path. 

Tip 4 – Get over your embarrassment and enjoy the fun 

Many of us feel uncomfortable dancing in public, but in order to remain sober, you must jump the hurdle and become okay with doing things you have deemed humiliating in public. Practicing mindfulness ahead of an event can help and then engaging, little by little, in the so-called embarrassing behavior can slowly but surely get you feeling more confident.  

Tip 5 – Know where things are ahead of your trip 

If it is possible, knowing where the alcohol-free options of the event are can set you in good stead. If it is a concert you are attending, there will be places that serve alcohol-free options, and you can find this information through the organizers and online research. If you are attending a holiday celebration, then speaking with the hosts beforehand about alcohol-free options can set you up for an enjoyable time in which you do not necessarily encounter anything that could trigger you.  

Tip 6 – Recognize your triggers and avoid them 

For some, being around alcohol is not a trigger, but for others who are newer on their journey to sobriety, it can be an easy catalyst for relapsing. Knowing ahead of time what could trigger you to relapse is key to avoiding such a situation.  

If you are new to your sober life, then recognizing that going to a 4th of July celebration is going to be too big of a risk for staying on track, then there is no shame avoiding it this year. It is more important to keep yourself on the path to your goals, and any true friend would understand. 

Tip 7 – Set boundaries ahead of the event 

Setting boundaries is a brilliant way of practicing patience with yourself. Tell yourself ahead of time how long you are going to spend somewhere and stick to it. You build trust with yourself when you know your limit and stick to what you say. There is no need to be overly harsh with yourself though. It is important to set realistic goals.  

“During the summer months, staying sober can be hard,” says Isbell. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 17 percent of adults binge drink and 13 percent of the population over the age of 12 have used illegal drugs in the past month. Trying to be social during this time requires a lot of patience and dedication. There is no shame in recognizing that an event or party is too much for you and removing yourself. Those around you who really care will happily provide accommodations for you and will help where possible. Substance abuse issues are treatable and with focus and dedication you can thrive in these social events without feeling that urge to engage with alcohol or drugs.” 

About The Author

Julie is the co-founder of Well Defined and a longtime influencer and advocate in the wellness world. Along with her work at Well Defined, she is an executive recruiter and marketing specialist for Hutchinson Consulting. She is also a consultant and content strategist for numerous wellness brands. She is the former editor-in-chief and publisher of American Spa and was named a 2019 Folio Top Woman in Media in the Industry Trailblazers category and a 2018 winner of ISPA’s Innovate Award. She is also a seasoned journalist, specializing in spa, travel, health, fitness, wellness, sustainability, and beauty. She has been published in Departures,, E! Online,, Insider’s Guide to Spas, Luxury Travel Advisor, Marin Magazine, Ocean Home, Smart Meetings, Spa Asia, and Travel Agent.