Summer Activities That Are Better Sober

Health & Fitness
Sober Summer

Summers can be a challenging time to stay sober, but the rewards of an alcohol-free season are amazing no matter how you choose to spend your time.

I went to a Pearl Jam concert in August of 2018 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, with more than 40,000 fervent fans in attendance. Pearl Jam is my favorite band, and to say that I was excited to be there would be a massive understatement. 

As I arrived at my seat before the show, I introduced myself to the guy who’d be standing next to me all night. The “Faithful", as Pearl Jam fan club members call themselves, are bonded by our love of the band and their music, and while we might not know each other we aren’t strangers either. So he was eager to shake my hand, slap me on the back and tell me his name, his favorite song, and where he was from. 

As he did so, it was obvious he’d been pre-partying with copious amounts of alcohol. His eyes were half-closed, he slurred his words, and he repeated himself several times. As a person in recovery from alcohol addiction you might think I’d be uncomfortable with the situation – but I wasn’t. Mostly, I felt sorry for him, and was grateful that his experience was no longer my experience. 

By the sixth song of the night, he was passed out in his seat, and he would remain that way for the duration of the 3-hour show. He missed 27 songs of their epic 33-song set; he missed Eddie Vedder covering Tom Petty’s, “Won’t Back Down”; and he missed a rousing 6-song second encore that started with “Yellow Ledbetter” and ended with “Rocking in the Free World”. The set list from that show has gone down as one of the greatest in the band’s 31 year history. 

I was sober for the whole thing, and soaked it all in. Every. Damn. Minute. 

One of the facts about those of us who struggle with addiction is that our brains are mean as hell. They lie to us, constantly tell us stories about how our lives would be better with alcohol. For whatever reason, it seems that our brains go into overdrive during the summer trying to convince us that summer activities would be better if we were buzzed or drunk. 

Nothing could be further from the truth. Simply put – summer is better sober. 

Concerts are one of most common summer activities that are vastly improved without alcohol. There is nothing better than being outdoors with one of your favorite bands, singing along to their biggest hits while remembering all the words, and waking up the next morning hangover-free and able to still smile and laugh about the experience. Nothing ruins a concert like headaches, memory gaps, and regret. 

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Here are three other summer activities that are better sober: 

  1. Being on the water.
    Summer is synonymous with water – from spending time at the beach, to kayaking on a lake, to swimming at the pool. Despite what the ads from big alcohol want you to believe, alcohol can compromise both your fun and your health while on the water. Alcohol use exacerbates the dangers of heat stroke, increases the likelihood of suffering from dehydration, increases the risk of falling and of drowning, and raises the odds (and severity) of nausea associated with seasickness. So basically all water activities are more dangerous with alcohol, and the side effects of drinking decrease the amount of time you can spend on the water and the amount of enjoyment you can have doing the activities. 
  2. Traveling. Alcohol is frequently associated with vacations and travel. As someone who has spent too many hours of his life in airport bars, I know firsthand how difficult it can be to wait out a flight delay sober. That said, alcohol-free vacations and travel are so much better. For starters, sober vacations are significantly less expensive when you consider the price of alcohol in airports, hotels, resorts, and tourist bars ranges from 20-100% higher than the average cost of the same beverage anywhere else. Alcohol also prolongs the effects of jet lag, increases the severity of air sickness, and can lead to severe headaches and migraines when consumed at high altitudes. Additionally, most entertainment establishments like amusement parks, resort pools, and tour groups recommend early morning arrivals to avoid long lines and sell-outs – something that’s hard to do with a hangover. 
  3. Athletic events. Summer is also synonymous with baseball, auto racing, and golf tournaments. Ever try to buy a can of beer at the US Open? A 16-ounce can will run you $16-$20. A cup of beer at an average American baseball stadium costs more than $13. Beyond the cost you still have to deal with the same effects of drinking in the heat and sun as mentioned above, and you have to make significantly more trips to the restroom than someone staying alcohol free. Nothing ruins a trip to Fenway Park like spending 45 minutes of your time standing in line to use their cramped and nasty restroom, only to miss a game-changing highlight. Stay sober and stay close to the action. 

Summers can be a challenging time to stay sober, but the rewards of an alcohol-free season are amazing no matter how you choose to spend your time. 

If you need some ideas on how to prepare for a sober summer you can check out this article. If you would like to talk with other people who are enjoying a sober summer then consider joining us at The Luckiest Club – we’re an online community of sober rebels enjoying life to its fullest, and helping other people do the same. 

I hope to see you at a show sometime soon! 

Written by:

Eric Johnson
Eric Johnson is an adventurer, writer, and certified coach. He is also the cohost of the podcast “Inside Job”. He draws his inspiration from his background as a leader in corporate America and as a teacher and coach at one of the world’s top business schools. He also believes that Mother Nature and 90's grunge music are among the greatest sources of wisdom available.
Eric Johnson
Vice President, Member Experience & Operations

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