Somehow, over the decades, the Fourth of July went from being a wholesome American pastime with hometown parades and barbeques to one of the top three drinking holidays of the year. Independence Day is a beloved U.S. holiday and needn’t necessarily be avoided in recovery. However, it is wise to initiate some proactive planning to hopefully sidestep any potential booby-traps that might trip up recovery while celebrating the Fourth.
When we approach these festive celebrations during the year, it is always best to remain humbly aware that, regardless of how long in recovery, there is always a risk of relapse. Being in recovery on the Fourth of July simply means that, just like every other day of the year, it is wise to acknowledge that we are only human. People in recovery, even those with superhuman resolve, are going to be vulnerable to triggers … forever.
Staying sober for the holidays is not as easy as it might seem. As a culture, many of our favorite holidays are associated with substance use, making this a tricky landscape to maneuver. We want to participate in the festivities, but approach them tentatively understanding that our recovery must remain the top priority. In essence, no holiday is worth jeopardizing recovery over.
5 Ways To Navigate Recovery on the Fourth of July
With a little planning and awareness, it is quite possible to engage in the festivities celebrating our nation’s birthday. Here are some handy tips for staying sober for the holiday:
- Prepare ahead of time. In anticipation of the July 4th celebrations, go ahead and get some extra meetings under your belt. Recovery meetings are an excellent source of peer support when potential triggers are in the offing. The members or participants may know of some sober Fourth of July events to check out in the community, or provide some creative ideas of how they will be celebrating a sober Fourth. Boost your commitment to sobriety by attending some meetings prior to the holiday.
- Select events wisely. There will be multiple Fourth of July events available in your region, so be selective. Be purposeful in protecting your exposure to possible triggers. Instead of attending crowded parties where it will be difficult to avoid substances, why not opt for a sober celebration at your church? Many local churches have picnics, live music, games for the kids, and fireworks displays, too. Or, you could even find a good spot with a view of the town’s firework show to watch from a distance instead of interacting with the revelers.
- Organize your own event. Take control of the situation by planning your own sober Fourth of July get together. Invite others friends and family members in recovery, as well as supportive friends who will honor your request to bring only non-alcoholic beverages. Plan a fun day at a local park or someone’s big backyard, with a potluck and outdoor games like Bocce ball, volleyball, or badminton.
- Have an exit strategy. If you do end up at a Fourth of July party, possibly a company sponsored event where you felt you needed to make an appearance, then be sure to have a solid exit strategy. The moment that you feel your recovery is threatened, or anticipate a triggering situation, is the perfect time to bid a fond farewell and depart.
- Just skip it. If you happen to be in a particularly vulnerable emotional state, why not just let the holiday pass you by this year? Remember that nothing is as important as your recovery, including your recovery on the Fourth of July. Instead of risking it, enjoy a quiet evening at home viewing the many firework shows being broadcast on TV or YouTube.
Ashley Addiction Treatment provides compassionate support for individuals struggling with a substance use disorder. For more information about our innovative treatment program, please reach out to us today at (866) 697-8965.