If you’re new to a sober lifestyle, you may feel like you need to avoid music festivals. If the scene is a trigger for you, you might. However, there are lots of people who go to festivals clean and sober—and you can be one of them.
Here are our best tips for enjoying music festivals clean and sober, and keep yourself safe and in good health.
Choose great music
If the music you’re hearing is awesome, you don’t need anything else. You can dance, party, and hang out for a great band or DJ. It’s when you’re not a fan of the music and scene that trouble comes! Avoid attending bands and DJs that are just so-so in your book to make sobriety feel easier.
You’re not alone. Try to find someone else who’s attending clean and sober, and go together for support.
If you go with a friend, whether they’re sober or not, make a plan in advance so that person will know how to support you when you’re there. For example, agree in advance on triggers to avoid and how to let each other know it’s time to go.
Don’t go with your old crowd
If you used to hit the festivals with your drinking and drugging friends, don’t go with them. That’s a trap; it’s too easy to relapse that way. Instead, go with friends you can rely on to stay sober, or with a sober group.
Ditch the haters
Most people you know and meet will support you being clean and sober. They might ask a few questions, but they don’t question your decision to stop using, let alone try to undermine it. Those who don’t respect your sobriety, who try to get you to use, or who mock your sobriety aren’t your friends; ditch them fast.
Also: don’t hate
Welcome to being sober all the time! You may begin to notice a lot of annoying things for the first time—like traffic, bathroom lines, and loud and annoying drunks. You never would have noticed any of these things when you were high or drunk!
Keep breathing, stay calm, and focus on fun. If you allow yourself to get so annoyed that you’re hating on everyone around you, you’re at risk of feeling you need to self-medicate your anger and anxiety away.
Make a Sobriety Plan
Beyond whoever you’ve gone to the festival with, make sure there is someone you can call if you have an emergency or need to get home ASAP. Have a friend or family member who can help standing by, just in case you need them. Even something as trivial as a flat tire can be a triggering event for someone in recovery.
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Especially if it’s your first sober event, stay close to home. Home is where you’ve got support and won’t get stranded.
Don’t take a long road trip until you’re ready. It’s a lot harder to stay in that sober frame of mind when you’re following a tour, partying night after night, or trying to drive long distances.
Keep calm and dance on
Be ready: some people might think you’re high or drunk if you dance, stay up late, get the munchies, or get the giggles. In fact, some people may doubt your ability to stay clean and sober—no matter what you do.
That’s okay! Keep calm, enjoy the music, and dance like no one is watching. What they think isn’t important.
Self-care is The Key to Staying Sober
Throughout your recovery and into your future, self-care is going to remain critical to your success. Often it is a lack of self-care that triggers the need to abuse drugs or alcohol in the first place.
Make sure you’re taking your meds, getting sleep, and eating healthy foods. Wear sunscreen if you’re outside, and stay hydrated. Stay healthy.
Many of us use when we’re under stress, so make sure you do your best to eliminate that element. One of the best ways to eliminate festival stress is to know what you’re in for.
Find out where bathrooms are, if you can bring bottled water, and other details about the venue before you go. Make sure you’ve got everything you’ll need, given what you should expect from the venue.
If you’re a night person a late night festival might work. If you’re not, consider sticking to daylight hours. When you’re in a club in the middle of the night sober, you just notice that sobriety more than you do during the day.
You don’t have to rush out and do everything in a year. You’ve got time! Be choosy about the music festivals and events you attend.
If you’re just getting back into the scene, skip pre-party and after party events. Be cautious about a whole multi-day event. A day pass is a great start.
Caffeine is your friend
So, you’re trying to stay up for a music festival, sober for the first time. You may notice it’s harder to stay awake like that when you’re not using.
Unless you can’t have it, enjoy some coffee or tea. Green tea especially is a great idea, because you’ll get a little caffeine boost without the jitters.
Take a breather
You’re about to go through an assault on your senses, and even in you love music, being at a festival in person is intense. If you’ve never been to a festival sober, this may be the first time you experience serious sensory overload in public.
If you start feeling overwhelmed, sit it out. Do some breathing, close your eyes. Enjoy some mellow people watching. Rejoin only when you’re ready—or leave if you need to.
Bring gum or hard candy
If you’re used to a drink always being in your hand, drinking becomes your first response to many different things. You’re just getting out of that mindset while you’re in recovery.
If you start getting cotton mouth or just get the urge to consume or use something, make it gum or candy. You’ll get rid of any dry mouth you’re feeling, and you’ll be keeping yourself busy, instead of looking for that phantom drink that used to be in your hand.
Hit the sober tent
If there is one at your festival—and these days at the larger festivals there almost always is—look for the sober tent. You’ll feel safer there, and it’s a protective factor to be around others in the same boat.
Remember to enjoy the sober experience
You may have been worrying about this event for a long time. If so, remember why you’re there: to enjoy the music and yourself. When you have a great time clean and sober at your festival, it will change your life!