For many individuals, summer music festivals are a beloved annual tradition-to take on singing and dancing with your friends amidst the stars is what one lives for.
And for some, knocking back a few beers or maybe even some illicit substances is what makes the whole experience complete.
The fact that many festival goers drink and use drugs, makes attending such festivals difficult-if not impossible-for individuals who are struggling with substances for fear that they may get triggered into using.
You are not alone. For many, getting sober means returning to a life worth living and not isolating oneself from friends and fun. How does one go to a festival and not get triggered? Turns out, you are not the only sober one at a music festival. Burning man has a sober village (tents staffed by volunteers whose mission is to provide sober support). Coachella also has daily meetings wherein you can find a sober buddy for support. There are sober resources everywhere-just keep your eyes open and make sure to grab your, “One festival at a time” sticker so that others can support you.
Here are some tips that may help you or someone you know to remain sober during music festivals:
I have had many clients say they need to lean in to life but also are realistic as to the dangers of broken reward systems. Therefore, we make a plan! Have multiple numbers to call. Go to meetings, daily. And if things get tough, make sure you can separate yourself from the environment and do a mindfulness practice. Do not leave yourself open for regret and the ensuing shame that follows.
Staying grounded and present will go a long way in your sober journey. Practice mindfulness for about 15 minutes a day so that when you need to DROP IN to mindfulness at the festival, it will be as easy as breathing.
What do I mean by this? In Anger Management Counseling, we practice identifying the biology of triggers. Do you know that if you are experiencing the following: feeling sleepy; high on substances; stressed; lacking sustenance or sick – these feelings will make you vulnerable to acting on previous bad habits? If you are facing one or more of the 5 S’s, you are setting yourself up for relapse.
The neurochemical dopamine can function the way it was intended (without substances) and create the natural high you crave. All you need is a novel experience. You go to music festivals to sing, dance, laugh and let the music move you. This is a novel experience in that you normally do not engage in such acts on a daily basis. You will feel amazing during this experience.
Be kind to yourself. If you fear you are putting your sobriety at risk, gift that music festival ticket to a friend, and work hard at your program so that you can attend next year.
Music festivals can be especially challenging for those of us who are struggling with drugs and alcohol. Take time to be kind to yourself and practice some of the tips above. Go ahead and LEAN IN to life. Attending festivals that you will remember later on in life is the best part of all! And who knows, maybe the music is the only drug you need.
Need more support with sober planning? Interested in hearing how other individuals navigate festivals and events, sober? Our support groups may be the right option for you.