The weather is warming up. Summer is officially here! Social gatherings are on the rise and we are ready to kick back, relax, and have some fun.
But where the sun goes, alcohol has a tendency to follow. From commercials on TV to songs on the radio, movies, and even social media, society seems to tell us that alcohol is a must-have in order to properly relax and unwind. We are bombarded with the notion that alcohol equals a good time.
Every year, like clockwork, substance and alcohol abuse rises during the summer, and this year will be no exception. Regardless of whether we have struggled with abuse issues in the past, if we wish to avoid alcohol consumption this summer, we must prepare our minds and bodies to resist temptation.
Summer and Alcohol
With warmer weather the number of parties and get-togethers typically increase, and social gatherings are often paired with alcohol. Take a minute to consider just a few popular summer activities. What is the likelihood that alcohol will be found:
- on the golf course?
- fishing with buddies?
- at backyard barbecues?
- at the beach?
- at summer concerts?
If alcohol is a temptation, it may seem to be coming at you from every angle. The need to fit in is typically heightened in party settings, and the worst peer pressure usually comes not from strangers, but from people we know.
People of all ages, not just youth, tend to indulge more in the summer months and peer pressure doesn’t have an age limit.
Tips to Avoid Sins of Summer
So, how do we avoid the sins of summer and shine as “Sons of Summer”?
Try not to put yourself in situations where you will be easily tempted. Easier said than done, I know—but if one of your old college buddies is hosting an annual fishing trip, and you know alcohol will be involved and you will be expected to partake, you may be better off declining the invitation. Know yourself and consider the situation in advance.
If you can’t avoid an event where you know alcohol will be present, be prepared, both mentally and physically. If someone offers you an alcoholic beverage, their intent probably isn’t to cause you to stumble. They are just conforming to social norms and being gracious hosts.
Beer, wine, and frozen/fruity mixed drinks are all popular summertime indulgences. Make up your mind ahead of time if you choose to not partake. If someone asks if you would like an alcoholic beverage, politely decline.
Being ready mentally also includes being prepared for people’s reactions. While some may be completely supportive of your decision, others may respond differently, resorting to nagging, teasing, cajoling, or other forms of peer pressure. Knowing possible reactions will help ensure you are not taken by surprise.
Consider in advance how you will respond if:
- Someone says “Come on! You can have just one drink to loosen up!”
- You get called “boring,” “lame,” or “old” for not drinking
- Someone buys a drink for you as a favor
- A round of shots is passed around
- Someone confronts you about your decision to not drink alcohol
It is also important to be prepared for the long-term effects of your decision. You may receive fewer social invitations where alcohol will be consumed, or you may find friends expect you to be their designated driver.
Such changes are not always a bad thing—consider the ways in which they might be better for you in the long run.
Wondering how you can prepare physically? Consider grabbing a bottle of water, your favorite soda or energy drink, or a slushie to bring with you to drink in place of alcohol. Make it something you truly enjoy and see as a treat so you will be less likely to want to replace it.
Going somewhere you can’t bring your own beverages? In most summer settings there are fun and tasty alternatives to alcohol. Having a non-alcoholic drink in your hand can prevent people from offering your alcohol in the first place. And if someone offers, you can easily decline with a simple “No thanks! I already have a drink.” No further explanation needed.
Of course, it is up to you to decide how much information to share and whom to share it with. You do not need to justify your decision. Some people drink, and some people don’t. No explanation needed.
However, if you have a good friend who is likely to support your efforts, you may consider having an honest conversation with them. Tell them you plan to avoid alcohol, and possibly elaborate about your specific situation. Let them know they can help support you by being a sober buddy and helping you to resist the temptation to drink. We are always stronger together.
Focus on God
The best way to overcome peer pressure is to change your focus. Focus on the expectations God has for us instead of the expectations of others. Our aim is to please God, not fit in with the world. We can look to God for comfort and courage.
As sons of God, we can bring Him our hurt through prayer and trust that He empathizes. He will equip us to obey Him and resist the negative influence of others.
God will strengthen you when you have a heart to live for Him. —2 Chronicles 16:9
Be an Example
By telling others what you believe, you become the example. Instead of having excuses ready or simply avoiding situations, choose to be the light. In this way, you can not only resist peer pressure, but you can be a good influence on those around you.
The Redeemed is here to help
We pray these tips to avoid alcohol this summer season are helpful. If you need to discuss your problems, worries, or struggles with a community that will be supportive and judgement-free, please contact The Redeemed—we are here, and you are not alone in your brokenness.