It’s no secret that the Fourth of July is a big drinking holiday, but did any of us really need an excuse to drink and partake in dangerous activities i.e. fireworks?? Just because we are sober now doesn’t mean that we have to give up having fun and celebrating our country’s independence. There are plenty of fun ways to spend your 4th while also nurturing your sobriety. Holidays, BBQs and summer parties can be triggering whether you’ve been sober for 30 days or 30 years, so I put together a few of my favorite tips to help get through any holiday.
- Bookend your Holiday. Most holidays there are alcathons, but even if your area doesn’t have one, meetings never close for a holiday. If you can, get to a meeting in the morning before the celebrations commence to get your recovery kick-started. This should help you feel much better going in to any situation where people might be drinking. Then, after all of the fireworks are done and the day is winding down, a meeting is the perfect place to exhale and pat yourself on the back for making it through the day. If you can’t make it to a meeting that night, be sure to go the next morning to avoid an emotional hangover.
- Bring a friend. Whether you are going to a family BBQ or to your town’s firework display it never hurts to have a sober side-kick. The two of you will be able to support each other if you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation. You could also choose to celebrate the day with people who are supporting you in your recovery, who would be a lot less likely to get out of control out of respect for your sobriety.
- Amp up the food! I have recently found myself really going all out in my meal preparations. I think it is partially due to the fact that with sobriety we can eat normal servings, but also because with all of the money I am saving not buying alcohol, why not go all out?? Try taking the red, white and blue theme all the way with side dishes and desserts! It’s a great conversation starter and if you have fun snacks the drinks will look much less appealing.
- Have an escape plan. As with any holiday function or family gathering, it is important that you have a way out in case you begin to get uncomfortable. Drive yourself so that if your friends want to stay you can still leave, and make sure you park where you can easily get out. This will help comfort you as well, knowing that you can leave any time you want.
- Bring your own drinks. Most places you go will probably have water or soda, but if you bring your own drinks you would be much less apt to reach for anything else, including a cocktail. I can’t count how many stories I’ve hear that start with “I was going for a water and ended up with a beer”. Make your own juice and seltzer cocktails if you want! Plus if you consistently have a drink in hand, no one will push one of their beverages on you.
- Throw your own party. If going to a party or BBQ sounds like more of a task than a celebration, why not have your own party? This way you can control your environment, and you can invite your sober friends and people who respect your recovery. As the host you can make sure no alcohol is present, and you can provide a safe place to celebrate.
- Call your sponsor. Let your sponsor know your plans. They will be able to help you navigate safely through the holiday, and if anything should come up they will have their phones on standby. Also, if your sponsor thinks your plans sound risky they’ll let you know!
- Live and Let Live. Don’t get angry or upset about other people’s choices or actions. Remember the 4th of July is about celebrating our independence, so let people make their own choices, and let go of your expectations of other people.
- Move a muscle. Any event that requires a little exercise will help to boost your endorphins while sending serotonin and dopamine to the reward center of your brain. It’s a natural way to reduce your cravings while also making you feel better!
- Have fun!!! Recovery isn’t a life sentence. Celebrate your sobriety in fun healthy ways. Tomorrow the 4th of July will be over, and you will wake up without a hangover. You’ll be able to remember the firework show and probably won’t be covered in mysterious bruises. Give yourself a pat on the back, and get to a meeting.
Meet the Author:
Jenn Worthington, Alumni Relations Coordinator