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Staying Sober Vs. SunFest 2013

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This weekend, West Palm Beach will be packed with music lovers, neon-colored bathing suits and the enticing aroma of funnel cakes. From its commencement Wednesday until its closing this Sunday, SunFest, Florida’s largest waterfront music and art festival is expected to attract more than 165,000 visitors. The event will include a full lineup of musical acts, an arts and crafts show featuring more than 140 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 Sunfest is, some alcoholics may find it difficult staying sober at this years event.

Staying Sober At Sunfest

Indeed, SunFest is a great way to spend one of the final weekends of spring in one of Florida’s most famous cities. At events having mass amounts of people with limited security, alcohol abuse becomes much more prevalent, and illicit substances become easier to attain. Not only is this dangerous for those who risk overdose by thinking the event is prime binge drinking or getting high, but also for addicts who may have not fully built their foundation in recovery yet. If you are recovering from addiction and value your sobriety, but also want to enjoy the more innocent side of SunFest, it’s likely you are having an internal battle over whether you will be able to attend without backsliding. To help give clarity on your thoughts about staying sober, here are a few questions to ask yourself while making this important decision.

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.

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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