Sweet Summertime Sobriety: 5 Ways to Stay Cool When Cravings Heat Up

Aug 10, 2023

On the boat, at the beach, or in the backyard, summer is almost always synonymous with a cold, alcoholic beverage. So how do you still have fun with family and friends without getting thrown off track in your recovery? We have a few ideas that will help.

Sweet Summertime Sobriety

(Ylanite Koppens/Pexels)

1. Drink, Drink, Drink … Water!

It’s incredible how quickly we can become dehydrated when spending time in the sun. Dehydration is extremely dangerous for your body and can increase your cravings for alcohol and other unhealthy things, such as fattening or greasy foods, sugary treats, and caffeine. On the other hand, meeting or exceeding your recommended daily water intake (usually 6 to 8 glasses, or more, depending on your environment and what you’re doing) will improve your health by helping you:

  • Regulate your emotions
  • Keep a normal body temperature
  • Increase your energy
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Eliminate waste more efficiently
  • Support robust brain function

There are plenty of ways to remind yourself to drink water. You can put alerts on your phone or smartwatch, place sticky notes (both printed and digital) all over your desktop, or engage family members to prompt you throughout the day.

One excellent way to remember to drink is to keep your favorite refillable water bottle with you everywhere you go. Every time you finish and refill, make a physical or mental checkmark somewhere so that at the end of the day, you will know how much water you’re consuming and whether or not you need to adjust your intake level. Tracking also gives you a goal you can attain and celebrate relatively quickly each day.

2. Eat Healthy and Regular Meals

One of the main drawbacks of alcohol use disorder (AUD) is that it destroys your eating habits. People with AUD often overload on processed and sugary foods or don’t eat at all in favor of drinking more alcohol. Either way, the excess calories pile on, and your body’s nutritional deficits will begin to reach dangerous levels, causing additional stress on your heart, liver, and digestive system.

Unfortunately, it’s a vicious cycle – the more you drink, the more likely you are to eat junk; the more trashy food you put into your body, the grosser you feel physically and mentally; and, finally, the worse you feel, the more vulnerable you are to give in to cravings and keep drinking.

Start by eating regular meals and snacks. If you plan a beach day, bring plenty of water, fruits, veggies, and other healthy things to nibble on. Grab a bowl of cereal or a banana and yogurt before you hit the road and schedule time out for lunch and dinner somewhere you will have healthy options like fresh salads, lean meats, and fish. There’s nothing wrong with saving a little room for the cheat foods, like boardwalk fries or ice cream, as long as those aren’t the only things you eat all day.

3. Be Prepared with Coping Strategies

Faith-based treatment centers like Renaissance Ranch and others offer spiritual reinforcement techniques and sound clinical methods such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for fighting alcohol cravings. Find the most effective ones that work for you, write them down on index cards or in your Notes app, and keep them handy.

By being prepared in this way, you can instantly have access to strategies that will help you manage dangerous cravings. These can include a collection of favorite Bible passages to remind yourself of the divine source of your strength, or using specific CBT skills like positive self-talk, identifying cognitive distortions, and Box-breathing.

Another first-rate approach is staying occupied. If you’re hanging out at a BBQ and someone breaks out the cold beer, step away from the beverages and join in a nearby game of horseshoes or toss a ball around with the kids. You can also start an activity with some of the other guests, such as cards, frisbee, or Spikeball.

4. Avoid Triggers

Triggers consist of places, people, and situations that remind you of when you used to drink heavily, so it’s best to avoid them when you’re in recovery. Of course, that’s relatively easy when you’re still safely ensconced within the walls of an addiction recovery center. But when you head back into the real world, staying away from triggers gets a little more complicated.

The neighborhood block party is always fun and a great place to connect with the other dads. But what do you do when attending the event that reminds you of when you all would stay late and get blindingly drunk after the kids went to bed? Or perhaps your boss invites the team to join him on his boat for the Fourth of July, but you know for a fact that you will be expected to drink heavily with everyone else since no one knows you’ve been in alcohol rehab.

The most obvious solution? Find an excuse not to attend and look for other opportunities to connect that don’t involve alcohol. One solution might be to go to the block party with your family but set a time limit for how long you’ll stay. Arrange with your spouse ahead of time to have an excuse to leave ready for when the heavy drinking starts. As for the boss’ invite, making up a reason not to go is probably your best option. However, once the event is over, you can suggest getting together next time to have a pickleball tournament or brunch at a local eatery.

The essential thing to remember about triggers is that succeeding in your recovery journey represents your most important overall goal; if that means your social life needs to adjust for this to happen, so be it.

5. Bring a Friend/Phone a Friend

A great way to enjoy summer fun is to bring along a friend who knows what you’re going through and is prepared to help you stay accountable to your recovery goals. Fortunately, experiencing substance abuse treatment with other men in similar situations provides an excellent means of making these kinds of beneficial friendships.

“We know how hard it is to walk away from old acquaintances and dangerous relationships in the pursuit of sobriety,” said Preston Dixon, COO at Renaissance, a Utah-based program providing addiction recovery for fathers and other men in crisis. “It can be terribly lonely. That’s why it’s so critical to have a really active alumni program like our Band of Brothers here at the Ranch.”

The men in Renaissance’s Band of Brothers meet together often, participate in quarterly retreats, and stay connected through the addiction recovery center’s smartphone app. “No matter where I go or what I’m doing, it’s nice to know a person who truly understands and cares about me is only a phone call or text message away,” Preston added. “That’s the miracle of the brotherhood.”