Is This Going To Be Your First Summer In Recovery?

There’s something in the air during summer time on the East Coast. Especially on weekends. Maybe it’s the seductive clothes people are wearing or the music blasting out of car windows, but it feels like it’s the call of the wild saying, “Let’s Party!” Now that we’re not doing THAT kind of partying anymore, we thought it would be a good idea to look at how we can still have a great time but stay clean and sober. Let’s start with everybody’s favorite thing to do around here – “going down the shore” {that’s the local beaches for The Gazette’s out-of-town readers}. We can head there with great intentions of staying clean but once we smell that ocean air who knows what can happen. We have to be careful -there’s definitely recovery potholes (possible relapses) on the boardwalk – whether it’s casino gambling in Atlantic City or bikini staring in Wildwood, we all need to remember to play any risky thoughts through to the logical conclusion, instead of just going with our impulses.

The Jersey beaches, for some of us, are people, places and things all wrapped up into one. But we don’t have to avoid them – we just have to remember we have a disease…which, occasionally, tells us we DON”T have a disease. The best bet in this case is to hook up with another person in recovery. One way to do this is to get to a meeting! Not just at beach towns but almost any town or location in the world has an Alcoholics Anonymous hotline number listed if you call 411. If Narcotics Anonymous is your program of choice and they don’t have a listing (sometimes N.A. isn’t quite as thorough or available in certain places), just ask for the A.A. number. “Any port in a storm” somebody famous once said – and, often an A.A. person will know where all the local meetings are; Al- Anon, Cocaine Anonymous, G.A., N.A. – you name it! For the sake of our readers who are going down the shore this summer, A.A’s hotline number is 609-641-8855 and N.A.’s WAS a little tougher to get from information… eventually we resorted to the Philly N.A. hotline, 215-NAWORKS (215-629-6757) and they had a South Jersey meeting list. If you’ve never made a meeting as an out-of-towner it is a great experience. However, even without leaving town this can be a challenging time of year, especially in early recovery.

Some triggers are unique to the summer time – the extreme heat seems to increase the appeal of an ice cold beer or those fancy “boat drinks “. We have to remember OUR consequences are much worse than a case of the spins or even a D.U.I. – When we drink, drug, gamble (or whatever), we release our addiction all over again. It’s never just a one night thing. We have to remember to be honest with ourselves. A good way to feel like you’re not missing something or being denied a ‘treat’ is to get yourself a really great, cold and refreshing non-alcoholic drink. You might even want to keep a cooler in your car with some favorite beverages on hand – we don’t have to feel deprived in recovery…just stay clean and sober. We always need to remember that we used up our drinking or drugging ‘privileges’ years ago – if God gave out “get high coupons” we already cashed all ours in years ago! It doesn’t matter if it’s a drink, a drug or for some of us, a casino trip. Summer time can be a trigger to lead us to take the first one…the killer. In N.A. they coined the phrase of the century, “one is too many and a thousand never enough”. So how we can avoid the situation where the first one starts to look good? Much of recovery is based on basic maintenance and prevention. If we have been able to stay clean and sober for a period of weeks or months, then we just need to do what we’ve been doing; continue to make meetings, call our sponsors, let people know what’s going on with us and even reach out to newcomers. We also need to keep praying and always need to stay connected.

 View a list of 12 Step Programs here.

Often times a relapse is preceded by a small change in lifestyle that usually involves less involvement in the recovery process…we can’t afford to do that. Summer is really like any other time for people like us – people who once we open Pandora’s Box, all hell breaks loose. We always have to remember who we are, what we are and what we can and cannot do if we want to have a happy and contented life.