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#SoberLife: Staying Sober At SunFest 2017

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SunFest-2017Starting May 3-7,2017, West Palm Beach will be packed with music lovers, neon-colored bathing suits and the enticing aroma of funnel cakes.  SunFest, Florida’s largest waterfront music and art festival is expected to attract thousands upon thousands of visitors. The event will include a full lineup of musical acts, an arts and crafts show featuring national artists, an epic variety of food options, and children’s areas to make SunFest an event for the whole family. As much fun as the festival is, some alcoholics and addicts may be concerned about staying sober and clean. How can you enjoy SunFest while also protecting your recovery?

Staying Sober At SunFest

SunFest is a great way to spend time with friends while listening to music and enjoying awesome food in Florida’s most famous cities, but you should also be aware of the facts. There will be drinking and drug use at this event and it may be tempting if you are new in recovery still building your foundation. Here is where your honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness will help you as you navigate going to events like SunFest.

What Stage Of Recovery Are You In?

Just as addiction is different for everyone, so is the recovery process. Whether you have been staying sober for just six months or 15 years, it is important to honestly assess how capable you are of being in an environment where drugs and alcohol could tempt you to the point of relapse. Often, relapses occur when recovering addicts rationalize their decisions to attend an activity with thoughts like, “I’ve been sober for a long time, I know I can handle it,” and, “I can just avoid places I would be tempted to use.” If you are making decisions with an overconfident attitude or are making promises to yourself you won’t have control over, you may be putting your sobriety at risk.

Will SunFest Have Your “Triggers?”

Staying sober may be easier for some when there is no temptation but what happens when you add a trigger? A “trigger” of addiction involves any high-risk situation or stressor that induces thoughts, feelings, or action to use drugs or alcohol. This thought, experienced as a temptation to use, is also known as a “craving.” In short, triggers lead to cravings and urges to use. At SunFest there will be loud music, colorful nightlife, and maybe even people you know who are using drugs or alcohol. There are many things a recovering addict associates with using drugs or alcohol. If you can identify any of these triggers for yourself, then it may not be worth it.

Do You Have Someone To Keep You Accountable?

If you decide you are going to attend SunFest, precautions for unforeseen dilemmas should be put in place. One way to do this is have someone you can call if you are feeling the desire to use, such as a sponsor or loved one who is capable of giving you appropriate advice. Another, is to inform the people you are going with of your intentions, and whatever non-negotiables you may have. A third, and very important precaution, is having a way to leave if circumstances get too overwhelming. You could ask someone you trust to be on call ready to come pick you up, or you can insist on driving yourself so you don’t have to worry about inconveniencing others.

How Can I Stay Sober At A Concert?

Now that we have gone over some detailed issues that you may face or have thought about when contemplating if you should go to the concert event, let’s take a look at 5 steps you can take to help make you feel more confident and secure in your decision to attend or not.

  1. Make sure you have shared your desire to attend with your sponsor, your sober supports (those with a year or more who have a working knowledge of the 12-steps), your counselor or therapist if you are seeing one, your family supports, as well as anyone else that you value as a strength in your recovery circle.
  2. Talk openly about any cravings or desires you have about drinking or using drugs leading up to the event. The more your talk about it, the less power the disease has over you. If you are in a vulnerable position right now and don’t feel strong enough to attend the event, don’t. The concert happens every year, so maybe next year you will be able to enjoy it more.
  3. Remember that you can back out of going at any time, even if you bought tickets. If you do attend, make sure you go with other sober friends (those who have a strong foundation in their recovery) and be sure to have some cash or a means to pay for transportation in case you need to bail.
  4. Drink plenty of water, make sure you eat, and do not hang around crowds where people are getting high or drinking too much. Spread it out a little and find comfort in different areas of the concert.
  5. Just because you experience a trigger, does not mean you have to act on it. Call your sponsor, contact a sober friend, and get out of there if you feel like a strong craving is coming on. There is no shame in having to exit an event early to protect your sobriety. If you had asthma and needed to leave early because of an attack, no one would fault you for taking care of you, so make sure you are taking care of your recovery.

Having Fun In Recovery

Recovery is different for everyone, but the goal of staying sober is the same. The best thing you can do is honestly examine your vulnerabilities, and the ways SunFest has the potential to magnify them. If there is any lack of clarity in your decision, get in touch with someone who can clear it up for you. Building boundaries and making deliberate decisions to protect sobriety should be a regular practice in the life of a recovering addict. Don’t let the lure of one event derail the life you have put back on track.

Staying sober can be easy when you have the right support in place. Get connected with The Watershed Recovery team by following and tweeting with us live @WatershedCares




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