Music festivals and nightclubs may seem like places to avoid if you’re recently sober. That might be true, if the scene is a specific trigger for your addiction. However, attending music festivals sober can be a fantastic experience and a welcome opportunity.
Here is a series of tips and tricks for joining up with your peers in recovery who also love music. Keep safe and protect your good health by learning to attend music festivals clean and sober.
Better music=better chances
Awesome music doesn’t need any embellishment, including drugs or alcohol. However, if you’re hearing a band or DJ that’s only so-so, the trouble begins. To make sobriety feel easier, avoid attending festivals and events with bands and DJs that are mediocre; be choosy about great entertainment.
Bring supportive friends…
There’s no reason to go it alone. Find someone else who is willing to attend the event clean and sober, and support each other by going together.
Whether your friend is sober or not, when you plan to hit the festival together, decide in advance what kinds of support you might need while you’re there. For instance, let your friend know about things that could trigger you, and decide together both how to avoid those things, and how to let each other know that you’re ready to leave.
…but not people you used to use with
For many people in recovery, music festivals and nightclubs used to be a place to get drunk and/or high with the usual suspects. If that was you, don’t try attending festivals with those same people. It’s too easy to relapse under those conditions. Give yourself the best possible chance instead, by going with a sober group, or friends you can rely on.
Almost anyone you run into will support your decision to recover. They might have questions, but they won’t challenge your decision to get clean, or try to change your mind. Anyone who tries to get you to fall back off the wagon or makes fun of your sobriety isn’t a friend, so avoid them.
Don’t be a hater yourself
Being sober all the time will give you a new level of insight into most things—including how annoying things can be! You may see many new irritations for the first time when you’re clean, like drunk people who act ridiculous, bathroom lines, and even traffic. You didn’t notice before, because you were among the drunks!
Just relax and stay calm. Your focus should be on the music and on your own enjoyment. You can’t rush a massive music festival, or its traffic or attendees. If you find yourself hating on everything around you, you are swimming in negativity that can trigger you.
Stay close to home
Stay close to home for your first several sober events. This way you won’t get lost or stranded, and you’ll have maximum support under conditions you have more control over.
Take care of yourself
Self-care is critical to recovery, and to good health more generally. Sometimes, a lack of self-care is what leads people to self-medicate with alcohol and drugs. When you’re hitting the music scene, sleep, eat well, wear sunscreen, stay hydrated, and always take your meds.
Know what’s coming
Not knowing what to expect causes stress, so eliminate that by finding out what’s coming. Research before you go so you know whether you can bring water, where to buy it if you can’t, where bathrooms are, and other facts about the venue. Bring anything you’ll need, based on your research into what you should expect from the venue.
You’re going to be in recovery for life! You don’t have to see every music festival and events on your radar right now. If this is your first time out sober, skip after parties and pre-parties, and start with a day pass instead of a whole weekend or weeklong event.
Caffeine, gum, and sweets
Getting through a music festival sober can be coffee or tea unless you can’t have caffeine. Bring gum or hard candy so you have a “pick me up” and something to keep in your hands or mouth where your drink used to be. This will also help you fight that cotton mouth feeling.
Sit out as needed
Sensory overload is new to many people in recovery; they’ve never been through something like a live music festival without chemical enablers. If things start to feel overwhelming, sit out for a bit and relax until you feel better. Don’t rejoin the crowd until you’re ready, and leave if you want to.
Hit the sober tent
The sober tent at any music festival is your friend—and most of the larger festivals have one. It feels like a safe haven, and being around others in recovery is a protective factor.
Have a wonderful time!
Everyone loves the idea of a special event or celebration. For people in recovery, though, the idea of attending such an event can be fraught. Remember why you want to go: you love the music and care about having a great time. You can do this sober, and once you do, you’ll never see music festivals the same way again.