The day America celebrates its independence, The Fourth of July, is traditionally a day associated with barbecuing, fireworks and drinking. For those in recovery, especially early on, it can be a particularly difficult holiday to celebrate and enjoy in a safe and sober manner. Reminiscing on past times of drinking and revelry on The Fourth can be a big trigger toward relapse. Combine the memories of bygone Fourth of July’s with being surrounded by people drinking, and it can be even more dangerous to a person’s sobriety. With all of this going on, The Fourth can still be enjoyed in a safe and sober way. There are plenty of activities to do and new sober memories to be made.
Some of you may plan to enjoy the holiday with family and friends who are not in sobriety, and will be around alcohol. People are social creatures, and it can be a big trigger watching others drinking while abstaining from alcohol. When confronted with a situation that’s causing thoughts of drinking, just remember it’s okay to walk away and take a breather. Removing oneself from the situation to obtain a clear head can be a useful coping tool. Walk around the park or neighborhood for ten minutes until the urge to drink passes.
It’s also important to reach out to sober support and be honest about the feelings and thoughts that are occurring. If there is someone at the party who is a support, even if they are non-sober, don’t hesitate to speak with them about the situation as well. Worst case scenario, make sure you have an exit plan if the urge to drink does not cease, and the situation becomes overwhelming. Maintaining recovery should far exceed any need to stay in a situation that is causing relapse triggers.
Others may be planning to spend The Fourth amongst fellow people in recovery. Many AA/NA clubhouses and sober homes throw July Fourth celebrations where people can enjoy the day partaking in sober activities. Ask around at meetings and with friends, chances are people will know of a few different sober parties that will be occurring. The clubhouses will also be having meetings throughout the day during the festivities.
Most towns have family friendly firework shows where people are able to enjoy the day without being surrounded by drinking. It can be fun to get a group of friends together for some outdoor activities. Being surrounded by others enjoying the holiday sober will help alleviate any triggers of relapse that might arise and provide a positive outlet if support is needed.
Let the holiday become a celebration of the fun that can be had sober and allow it to become a time of fellowship and bonding with those you care about. Holidays, such as July Fourth, can be a trigger for many if they don’t take the little steps to make it a safe and sober celebration. It’s important to still enjoy holidays in recovery and learn new ways to do so.