You can turn up the heat emotionally. You can turn up the heat physically. But what do you do when your emotional and physical temp are turned up, and you can’t access the reset gauge?
In these extreme summer temperatures, we are aware of the need for staying hydrated, sunblock, sunglasses, seeking shade and staying cool. However, for those of us in recovery it's important to take some extra precautions too. Extreme temperatures can cause people to become agitated more easily. Short tempers and short fuses are very common during extreme heat. When I was deployed to Iraq, I noticed how quickly tempers flared when the temperature reached into the triple digit range.
With people in recovery summer heat can be a cue or a trigger for some old behavior. Thus, it's important to plan ahead in order to stay cool both physically and emotionally. Here are some tips to beat the summer heat.
- If you are going to a summer function, be sure you have an exit plan. Don’t be dependent on someone for your exit strategy. The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous tells us on page 101 it is OK to go to function where there may be drinking if we have a legitimate reason for being there. (“So our rule is not to avoid a place where there is drinking, if we have a legitimate reason for being there.” – pg. 101). Nonetheless, if you're at a summer function and things get uncomfortable, be sure you have a way to extract yourself quickly.
- Bring along a non-alcoholic beverage of your choice. You don’t want to run into a situation where the host tells you that all they have left is beer and cocktails. Don't let that happen to you. A back up cooler in your car of a refreshing nonalcoholic beverage is a good idea for road trips and your recovery.
- Have someone in recovery on speed dial. If things become uncomfortable either physically or emotionally, talk to a trusted friend, confidant, or your sponsor. It can help cool things down. Additionally, don’t just have one backup. Storing the numbers of the St. Paul Intergroup or the Minneapolis Intergroup into your phone is a very good idea. Both agencies offer 24-hour answering services and are a good second call if you can’t get through to your first point of contact.
- Sign-up and attend one or more of the many recovery activities that take place during the summer. Outdoor meetings, campouts, sobriety festivals and the like can help build your recovery network and capitol.
- Lastly, enjoy yourself and take advantage of these warm days. Celebrate summer sober and avail yourself of the plethora of activities that are available in the "Land of 10,000 Lakes".