For people new to recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, celebrating your first Fourth of July holiday can be a challenge. When you are in recovery, it’s important to adjust your mindset regarding July 4th and other holidays closely tied to drinking and parties.
Rather than thinking about what you can’t do or what you are missing without alcohol or drugs, think about what you can do — the meaningful fun you can have on July 4th and celebrate your independence from substances.
If you are new to recovery, avoid lake parties, bars and other gatherings where drinking is prevalent. Go to a 12 Step meeting, even more than one if necessary, to manage off urges, boredom and loneliness.
Try these 10 tips for staying sober on Independence Day:
1. Do Your Research
If you receive an invite to a party or gathering, make sure you find out if there will be alcohol.
Consider making alternate plans, especially if you are in early recovery. It’s essential to avoid and manage triggers as you strengthen your sobriety.
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.
2. Stick with Sober Buddies
Bring a sober friend in long-term recovery along if you attend any gatherings.
If you go to a party where alcohol is available, having someone experienced in recovery by your side will help with accountability.
3. Have an Exit Strategy
Always have a plan for leaving a challenging gathering or situation.
If you find yourself in a situation that has potential triggers, have a plan ready to leave and call your sponsor or a friend in recovery. Drive your own car so that you will be able to exit immediately.
4. Phone a Friend
If you attend an event without a sober friend, be sure to have the contacts of a few people in recovery with you and call them if you need help.
5. Focus on Self-Care
A big part of relieving temptation comes from self-care.
In addition to your recovery program, take care of yourself by eating a healthy diet, getting enough rest, and staying active or exercising daily.
Focusing on healthy practices and routines strengthen your sobriety and protect your overall well-being.
6. Host a Sober Cookout
Host a sober cookout at your home or local park. Invite family and friends, as well as friends in recovery.
Make sure guests understand the event will be alcohol free and invite them to bring a side dish or dessert — and sparklers!
7. Just Say No
Remember, your recovery is your number one priority, so avoid situations that you know are trigger risks and keep a 12 Step meeting schedule within reach.
Do not hesitate to decline invitations to parties if you don’t think you’re ready and don’t worry about hurting anyone’s feelings.
Keep building on your recovery foundation and reevaluate next year.
8. Stay on Schedule
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 other commitments. 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.
9. Get Creative
Many communities offer fun alcohol-free events and healthy activities designed to commemorate our Independence Day.
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.
Ask around at meetings for information about holiday events. Many 12 Step groups host cookouts, dances, even water-related activities.
10. Stay Centered
Practicing mindfulness is a powerful option for staying focused on recovery.
In AA, Step 11 tells us, “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with god as we understand him…”
Take control of your thoughts and emotions with a meditation practice. Even five minutes a day can make the difference. Meditation will calm your mind and strengthen your recovery.
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 recovery resources and addiction treatment information.
If you feel like you need help immediately, the Valley Hope team is available 24/7 at (800) 544-5101, including July Fourth and all holidays.