How to Celebrate July 4 in Sobriety
Most of us immediately associate the Fourth of July with backyard barbecues, pool parties – and, of course, fireworks. Observing our nation’s Independence Day often means an all-day celebration, which also commonly comes with societal expectations to drink. What can you do to avoid this pressure, but still celebrate July 4 in sobriety?
1. Drive Yourself
If you decide to attend an Independence Day party, make sure you have a way to gracefully extract yourself from the gathering if it proves to be too much of a strain on your sobriety goals. Having transportation at hand, rather than relying on someone else to take you home, puts you in the driver’s seat – both literally and figuratively.
If people, circumstances or surroundings are threatening to push you to the brink of relapsing, there’s no rule saying you must stay until after the fireworks. You know what’s best for you and how hard you’ve worked to get to where you are, and if making an early exit helps you stay on track, it’s the right thing to do.
2. Don’t Romanticize the Past
Holidays can be especially challenging for recovering addicts because they remind you of the days when you were drinking or using. You may find yourself feeling nostalgic over past July 4 cookouts when you were the host, manning the grill all day and always being the first to offer your guests a beer from the cooler. In romanticizing your addiction, you fall into the trap of selectively remembering the good times, and glossing over all the negative side effects of substance use, like hangovers, blackouts and irresponsible behavior.
3. Bring a Cooler of Non-Alcoholic Drinks
If you’re going to a party where you know the host will keep the alcohol flowing liberally all day, one strategy is to bring a supply of non-alcoholic drinks from home. If you already have a drink in your hand, it will help prevent other party guests from offering you anything intoxicating. That way, you don’t even have to bring up the topic of being in recovery with anyone, unless you choose to do so.
4. Avoid “Near Beer”
When you’re in recovery, non-alcoholic beer may seem like a safe option for you to drink at a get-together for July 4 or any other occasion. In truth, however, “near beer” is a slippery slope for recovering alcoholics. While it has little to no alcohol content and won’t get you drunk, non-alcoholic beer still looks, tastes and smells exactly like the real thing. Experiencing an identical sensory experience to normal beer, but without the intoxicating effects, can be frustrating. Even though you won’t get drunk, non-alcoholic beer represents too much of a risk because it can be a trigger to crave something stronger.
5. Do Something Other Than Partying
There are plenty of ways to celebrate July 4 in recovery that don’t involve hosting a party or attending someone else’s. If the idea of the traditional Independence Day gathering seems too stressful or risky to you, you can skip it altogether in favor of something completely different. For instance, try rounding up a few sober friends for an informal soccer or kickball game in the park. Or, you can spend the day learning about the untold stories of American history.
6. Ask for Help When You Need It
Recovering from an addiction is one of the most challenging things you’ll ever do, and you won’t be able to go it alone. Even with all the self-help advice like this, sometimes your resolve will still come up short. It happens to everyone now and again. If you’re having a rough day or feeling overly stressed or anxious, don’t be afraid to reach out. Call your sponsor or text a supportive friend until you feel better. They’ll help you remember how far you’ve come in recovery, and why you are working so hard to get sober in the first place.
Celebrate Your Independence From Drugs and Alcohol
If you’re looking for a place to begin pursuing your addiction recovery in earnest, Beach House is here to help. We have received national recognition for our commitment to clinical excellence and evidence-based practices, and our caring admissions counselors are here to talk with you 24/7.