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As popular staples of summertime fun, concerts and music festivals come rife with their own forms of temptations and challenges for those in recovery. Live music events can entail significant amounts of drug and alcohol use, especially in tight-knit community settings and at unsupervised locations like music festivals. Thankfully, being sober doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy seeing your favorite performers. Here’s how you can stay clean and sober and still have a good time.

Start With a Day Pass

If you’re just now returning to the music scene while in early recovery, it might be best to start small first. Buy a day pass instead of committing to a weekend where you might be out of your element and feel overwhelmed or triggered. Pick a day where you can get the most out of the experience. Dipping your toes into festival culture while sober is better than jumping straight into a multi-day event.

See a Band That’s Good Enough Sober

Festivals are about the music first and foremost. See a band that’s worth seeing sober. You don’t need substances to enjoy great music, especially if you really enjoy a performer or band. Pick bands that you can groove to without getting high or drunk and enjoy being present in the moment.

Bring Your Sober Friends

If you’re worried about being the odd one out, go with a group of friends who don’t plan on using substances. This is a better alternative than attending with your old crowd or going alone. Bring a friend who understands your background and is supportive of your recovery. Having people to rely on if things become too much can make it easier to cope with cravings or manage triggers.

Embrace the Annoying Parts of Festivals

While attending your first festival sober, you may notice that things that weren’t a big deal while under the influence can feel absolutely unbearable at times. It’s normal to expect large crowds, long lines for the restrooms, heavy traffic, and feeling uncomfortable around people who are drunk or high. These things are inevitable at festivals and concerts, and it’s best to accept that they are out of your control. Embrace the good with the bad, and don’t let the annoying parts affect your enjoyment.

Be Prepared to Say No

Drugs and alcohol at a festival or a concert are often a given. At some point, you may be offered substances by a friend or even a stranger and, since you’re dedicated to staying sober, you’ll have to decline. It can be scary to say no sometimes. What if they get mad? What if they ask why I don’t want to? What if I feel pressured? It’s good to think through these scenarios beforehand and have a plan for how to address these possibilities if they arise.

If they ask you why, you can be honest and tell them that you’re trying to stay sober, or you can make up an excuse if you don’t feel comfortable disclosing this kind of personal information. If you feel pressured or they seem to be getting angry, then it’s best to disengage and leave the area. If you continue to feel threatened, look for security guards for assistance.

Prioritize Your Health

Summer festivals involve a lot of standing outside in large crowds in the hot sun. remember to stay hydrated, wear sunscreen, and get some sleep. Try to eat healthy options if they are available. Staying physically healthy while having fun will keep your mental health in check. Pay attention to your moods. Music festivals sometimes can feel like a sensory overload.

If you feel overwhelmed, take a break. Step out of the crowd and watch from a distance for a while. Practice breathing exercises until you feel more stable. If things feel like too much, there’s nothing wrong with calling it early and going home. Prioritizing your own health, mental and physical, is more important than hearing a band live.

Research the Venue in Advance

Stress can come from unexpected scenarios, like not knowing where the bathroom is and whether or not they serve water. When planning for a festival or concert, learn as much as you can about the venue, what the rules are, how much money to bring, and what you can bring into the venue.

Knowing these things in advance can help you feel calm and prepared once you’re there and dealing with the crowds of people and organized chaos. You won’t find yourself lost looking for the bathroom, or scrambling at the ATM, or stopped at security.

Have an Escape Plan

Prepare for the worst-case scenario. Whether it be a mental health crisis or someone getting lost, or a flat tire, have a plan for the worst that could happen. Know your route home in advance. If your friends plan to drink, volunteer to be the designated driver so that you’re guaranteed a way home, or consider driving yourself instead of carpooling. Know which public transportation to take home, even without GPS in case your phone dies. If it’s your first festival since being sober, try to attend one closer to home so that it’s easier to navigate.

If you enjoy live music, you might find yourself attending a festival this summer, but this can bring a problem since drugs and alcohol are often used at live concerts. You can still have a good time while maintaining your sobriety by prioritizing your own safety. Having a plan for how to deal with being offered substances, coping with cravings, or feeling stressed and overwhelmed can help you enjoy a music event without risking possible relapse. Attending with sober friends and prioritizing your well-being will help you keep strong and clear-headed when faced with temptation. You don’t have to give up healthy activities that you enjoy, like live music, just because you are sober. If you are struggling with addiction or need extra support in your recovery, Cornerstone Healing Center of Scottsdale, Arizona, is here to help you every step of the way. To learn more about what Cornerstone has to offer, call (800) 643-2108 today.

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