Learn how a sober summer can be a productive time to experience new things and kickstart a new life free from drugs and alcohol.

Teen addiction can be challenging to overcome, particularly while dealing with a hectic schedule and negative peer pressure during the school year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about two-thirds of students have tried alcohol by 12th grade.

Among 12th graders, close to 2 in 10 reported using prescription medications without a prescription. Getting sober over the summer can be an ideal way to kickstart a new stage in life that is free from drugs and alcohol.

A sober summer can be a fun, enriching time to build new friendships, experience new adventures and focus on the future. Without the academic and peer pressure of the school year, the summer provides time to cope with addiction, participate in outdoor sober activities and find genuine happiness.

1. No Academic Pressure

Academic pressure during the school year can contribute to teen stress and subsequent substance use. For teens already in addiction recovery, academic pressure can make it challenging to steer clear of dangerous substances.

High-achieving students may feel pressure to maintain perfect grades, ace the SATs and build a robust list of extracurricular activities for their college applications. Students struggling with classes may feel disappointed, defeated and depressed over their academic performance.

Scientific studies have shown that academic performance, a weak attachment to school, and school-associated stress is linked to teen substance use and addiction. However, the summer reprieve from the burden of homework, exams and grades means teens can experience lower stress and have more time and energy to focus on getting and staying sober.

2. Low Peer Pressure

Most teens experience peer pressure during their grade school years, and it can have a powerful effect on them. Teens place a high value on their peers’ opinions of them, and to gain the approval of their peers, students may give in to the pressure to try drugs or drinking alcohol.

Studies show that peer influence, such as a close friend that is using alcohol or drugs, is a significant factor in teen substance use. It can be difficult for teens to separate themselves from peers who are using drugs when they see them daily during classes, lunch break and sports activities.

The summer provides a welcome break from the teen peer pressure that can make it challenging to achieve sobriety. During the summer, teens can choose to reconnect with old friends or make new friends on their terms, free from the people and situations that are pressuring them to use drugs or alcohol at school.

Hanging out with other sober teens who have the same values and interests can help teens choose sobriety over substance use. The development of lasting friendships also creates a support system to help teens maintain sobriety in the future.

3. Time to Cope

Summer provides a break from the hectic school year and allows time to cope with addiction and focus on recovery. Through treatment, teens can reflect on their drug addiction and work through the reasons behind their substance use, which may include traumatic life events, mental health disorders or family problems.

Teens can also concentrate their energy on healthy hobbies, meaningful relationships and future goals, rather than drug or alcohol use. For example, spending time considering college and their career goals can help teens focus on their bright future rather than the challenges they face in the present.

If a teen is struggling with a substance use disorder or mental health condition, summer is an ideal time to get them connected with a treatment center. During the summer, teens can attend a treatment program without missing school or team sports. The summer also provides privacy, as teens can get the help they need without their friends and classmates knowing. Seeking addiction recovery over the summer allows teens to begin the school year with a clean slate.

Ready to build a sober routine? Check out this 6-week guide to changing your drinking habits.

4. Sober Activities

Teens dealing with substance use or addiction may find it hard to fill their summer days while living a sober life. However, teens who are involved with productive sober activities are more likely to avoid substance use. There are many opportunities for sober fun, including:

  • Getting a summer job: teens can cultivate responsibility and independence, experience the gratification of earning a paycheck, and make new friendships with coworkers
  • Volunteering: working on a cause that is important to them can help teens gain self-confidence and feel rewarded for having a positive impact on the world around them
  • Travel: family trips can help expand a teen’s world perspective, separate them from triggering situations and foster close family bonds
  • Outdoor summer activities: spending time at the beach, at the pool, camping or hiking with family or friends exposes teens to the mood-boosting power of the sun and exercise
  • Youth groups: connecting with other teens with similar values and interests can help foster new, healthy friendships
  • Community classes: learning something new through an art, music or cooking class can help teens develop new, healthy hobbies or advance their current skills

5. Time to Find What Makes You Happy

The summer provides time for teens to find happiness and fulfillment by cultivating positive relationships and participating in healthy activities.

Close, healthy relationships with friends and family members are an essential part of a teen’s support system and can help them work through life challenges and traumatic events without turning to drugs or alcohol.

Developing new hobbies or working on advancing current hobbies can also help teens focus their time and energy on productive, sober activities. Healthy habits like sports, after-school clubs, volunteering, learning new skills and maintaining a healthy diet can help teens build self-confidence, develop a positive life outlook and prevent relapse into drug or alcohol use.

Teen drug abuse has many negative consequences and can be challenging to overcome. However, teen addiction recovery is possible with proper treatment. If you or your teen is struggling with a substance use disorder, contact The Recovery Village to speak with a representative who can guide you through the initial steps to receive treatment. Teens deserve a bright, healthy future free from addiction.

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Editor – Camille Renzoni
Cami Renzoni is a creative writer and editor for The Recovery Village. As an advocate for behavioral health, Cami is certified in mental health first aid and encourages people who face substance use disorders to ask for the help they deserve. Read more
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Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Candace Crowley, PhD
Dr. Candace Crowley received her B.S. in Biochemistry from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, and her Ph.D. in Immunology from UC Davis, where her thesis focused on immune modulation in childhood asthma. Read more

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Teen Substance Use & Risks.” April 1, 2019. Accessed July 19, 2019.

Kempf, Cédric; Llorca, Pierre-Michel; Pizon, Frank; Brousse, Georges; et al. “What’s New in Addiction Prevention in […]st Years of Research.” Frontiers in Psychology, July 6, 2017. Accessed June 19, 2019.

Allen, Joseph; Chango, Joanna; Szwedo, David; Schad, Megan; et al. “Predictors of susceptibility to peer inf[…]e use in adolescence.” Child Development, January 1, 2013. Accessed June 19, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.