For people in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, holidays like the Fourth of July can be challenging. And in 2020, with so many Americans anxious, stressed and fearful, the risk of relapse is especially elevated.

Typically, many Fourth of July traditions include lake time with friends and BBQs involve alcoholic beverages. This year, most holiday gatherings are limited by community safety precautions. Although many of us will spend the holiday differently this year, the potential triggers still exist.

Still, it is possible and fulfilling to celebrate your sobriety and America’s birthday. A solid plan can help you manage and overcome holiday triggers, stay safe during the coronavirus pandemic and enable you to engage in meaningful patriotic fun.

Of course, staying away from lake parties, bars and gatherings where drinking is prevalent is a given, especially if you are new to recovery. Going to a meeting, even more than one if necessary, can stave off urges, boredom and loneliness. If you are staying safe at home due to the coronavirus, there are endless online meeting options as well. It’s never been easier to join a 12-step meeting.

As you make plans for the Fourth of July weekend, explore these options for celebrating our freedom as a nation and your freedom from addiction:

Stay Safe at Home

If you are in early recovery, your first couple of sober Independence Days may require you to skip events that involve a heavy focus on alcohol consumption including gatherings, neighborhood celebrations and lake outings with friends. You are free to skip a year and focus on yourself, specifically on your health and well-being. The best way to manage triggers is to avoid them altogether, especially early in recovery. Don’t be afraid to say no to invitations to gatherings that you know likely involve triggers. Use the opportunity to keep building on your recovery foundation.

Focus on Your Health

A key element of managing recovery in general must include essential practices that ensure a healthy body and mind. These practices also feed into intentional self-care. In addition to your recovery program, take care of yourself by eating a healthy diet, getting enough rest, practicing mindfulness and staying active or exercising daily. Focusing on healthy practices and routines strengthen your sobriety and protect your overall well-being.

Maintain Your Routine

Vacations, children out of school and family plans can throw the Fourth of July weekend into chaos quickly. Be sure to stay on your recovery schedule as best you can. Be mindful to keep your 12 step meeting schedule, church if you attend, and self-care routine including meditations or workouts. Keeping your daily routine on track will help you stay focused on recovery. Stay connected to your sponsor and recovery community – essentials not just for the Fourth of July but every day.

Celebrate Freedom

This year, many communities are offering social distanced events that include healthy activities designed to commemorate our Independence Day safely during the COVID-19 pandemic. Explore your local event calendars for a complete guide to what is going on in your community and find a sober activity that you enjoy.

Whether you are new to recovery or firmly in long-term sobriety, explore July Fourth experiences and activities that set you up to engage in the best that the holiday has to offer while staying focused on your recovery journey and avoiding relapse.

Explore Valley Hope’s blog for extensive resources and information for loved ones, families and the recovery community.

Do you need information on other recovery subjects? If you have a related topic you would like covered, please submit your ideas to info@valleyhope.org.

If you feel like you need help immediately, the Valley Hope team is available 24/7 at (800) 544-5101. If you or a loved one are ready to stop drinking, take an online assessment and begin your journey to a healthy, happy life in recovery today

For more information on addiction, treatment and recovery, please visit valleyhope.org or for help 24/7 call (800) 544-5101.