Three Steps to Staying Sober at a Music Festival

 

Three Steps to Staying Sober at a Music Festival

Austin is home to numerous music festivals, one of the biggest of which, Austin City Limits, is just around the corner. Music Festivals are often thought of as recovery hostile environment. In many ways, they are recovery hostile; there is drinking and drug use in plain sight or smell all over the festival grounds. College is another recovery hostile environment, however with the right support system it can be a place where one can thrive and grow in recovery. I see music festivals in the same light. With the right precautions taken they can be an experience of living and enjoying life sober.  At Austin City Limits, or any other festival, we can be a testament to the fact that getting sober is a beginning for us, not an end.

We do not get sober to live a life where we have to avoid situations were drinking or drug use is occurring, we get sober so that we can have a fulfilling and satisfying life. For me, going to music shows in recovery has been some of the most fun times that I have had. Much like returning to college though, there are some things that have to be in order prior to going to a festival. Here are three steps to successfully staying sober at a music festival:

  • I have to take a look at where I am in my recovery prior to going to the show; have I been struggling/disengaged or am I actively participating? Are my motives for going to the show unhealthy? Have I been having serious cravings recently? Am I struggling emotionally? If I have doubts about any of this I need to check with my sponsor or a trusted friend and actually listen to their advice. If I answer yes in any of these areas, then it may be a good idea to focus on my recovery instead of going to the show.
  • I always try to go with other people in recovery. It’s not only more fun to go with other sober people, but also provides me with some support and accountability on the actual festival grounds. In addition, I get to be a support to the people I am with which gets me out of myself.
  • Lastly, I always have an exit plan. I make sure that I have a way to get home, or to a meeting, no matter what and that I will not be stuck there if I do feel the need to leave. Often times this means that I have spoken with the people I am with ahead of time and that we have agreed that if anyone feels the need to leave, at any time, we all leave together no questions asked. If this is not possible for some reason, then I make sure to take my own car to the venue/festival so that I have the freedom to leave any time I need to.

These steps have helped me to both stay sober, and have a good time, at music festivals and concerts. Recovery is truly amazing, and when I am working a program I can go anywhere. I don’t have to fear drugs/alcohol. When I am doing what I need to do for my recovery and myself they are not even an issue. To end with, I would like to note that many music festivals have recovery friendly areas. These can range from just substance free spaces, to full on 12 step meetings on the festival grounds. Often times these spaces can be identified by 3 yellow balloons. In the music festival scene yellow balloons have come to be recognized as a symbol of safe sober fun; which is why they have also become a symbol that is important to us at Alpha 180.

Austin Herrmann, LMSW

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