4th of July: How To Celebrate Without Derailing Recovery
Independence Day is commonly associated with cookouts, alcohol, and fireworks. Many people are injured or die because of drinking and driving or drinking and using fireworks. From 2017 to 2021, 1,460 Americans died in vehicle accidents during the Independence Day celebration period. About 40% of the drivers involved were drunk. Nearly 45% of the deaths that occurred from fireworks on Independence Day in 2020 involved alcohol.
Alcohol can also make boating, swimming, or other activities more dangerous. However, another risk that many may not think or talk about is the danger of relapse that abusing alcohol may create for someone newly sober. Fortunately, there are ways that people who are in recovery can enjoy a sober 4th of July.
Why Independence Day Is Difficult for People in Recovery
If you have a friend or family member who is sober, it helps to understand why Independence Day may be especially difficult for that person. Like other holidays, Independence Day is associated with indulgence. People indulge in food, fun, and alcohol to enhance their celebrations. The easy availability of alcohol at parties can be tempting for those in recovery. For those who are newly sober, cravings can be especially strong. Also, parties or social gatherings may be triggering for some people.
For example, imagine that a woman who is 35 is newly sober. During every past party she attended as an adult, she consumed alcohol. When she goes to parties after beginning her sobriety journey, she may feel out of place. She may find it harder to refuse drinks. There may be other difficulties as well.
For instance, holidays like Independence Day can bring back memories of loved ones who are no longer here. It may bring back other types of memories that a person may not want to revisit. If someone used substances to cope with losses or past experiences, the desire to drink may be stronger.
People who are addicted to a substance still experience cravings when they are sober. Going to social gatherings with alcohol can be like going boating without a life jacket for someone newly sober. Relapsing can lead to many destructive outcomes like legal troubles, losing a job, distance from loved ones, and more.
How To Enjoy a Sober 4th of July and Other Holidays
If you are newly sober, you can still enjoy the festivities with your friends and family members. There are ways to reduce the risks of consuming alcohol if you do attend a gathering where people are drinking. These are some ways to protect the hard work you have done in maintaining your sobriety.
Holidays should still be a time to spoil yourself a little. By indulging in some healthy and enjoyable activities, you may be more prepared to avoid alcohol use. Start the day with something you enjoy that benefits your physical or mental health. For instance, spend some time on a hobby, do yoga, or meditate. Spend time with your pets. Buy yourself a cup of your favorite tea or coffee if it helps boost your mood.
Being around other people who share similar struggles can make it easier to attend social gatherings later in the day. You may learn some new coping strategies from others and can find encouragement. Also, you can ask your sponsor or someone else to check in with you while you are enjoying festivities later in the evening.
Make sure you have your transportation or a way to get home. For example, you may need to verify bus schedules if you rely on public transportation. If you need to leave suddenly, do not feel bad about it. Whenever you feel overwhelmed, it is completely ok to leave and protect your sobriety. Driving yourself or having an easy way to leave and get home when you want gives you control of the situation.
If your sponsor or a sober friend from group meetings is willing to come along, that can be a great advantage. Having an accountability partner when you are newly sober can help reduce the risk of drinking. Also, if you are surrounded by people who may all be drinking, it is nice to not feel alone.
People who may not know that you are newly sober may try to offer you drinks. It can feel more tempting to accept if there are no other enjoyable alternatives. As a way to lower that risk, you can chill your favorite soda or non-alcoholic drinks ahead of time to bring.
Ask questions about the event before you go to make sure you have control. How long will it last? Are there any special activities? For example, if a party is on a moving boat, it would be hard to leave suddenly. Make sure you can comfortably leave when you want, and plan that exit. If you are in a situation that becomes overwhelming, it can be easy to panic and hard to think. This is why a pre-planned strategy is a great tool for protecting yourself.
If you feel that social gatherings with alcohol are too risky despite any of the previous steps, that is ok. You know yourself and your limits, and there is nothing wrong with turning down invitations to protect your future. A great alternative is to plan your sober gathering. Other friends who are in recovery or who are newly sober may be happy to help and attend.
Sobriety Celebration Ideas: Tips for Enjoying Independence Day
Whether you are planning a celebration for your benefit or the benefit of a loved one, there are several ways to make it fun and memorable. Independence from alcohol is a great basis for a sober 4th of July party. Giving friends or loved ones a chance to celebrate their sobriety by eliminating alcohol can encourage them and show that you care. These are some tips for planning a sober 4th of July gathering.
If you and the people attending the party enjoy fitness, there are plenty of ways to make that a theme. For instance, you can plan a jog through a park to an area where there will be a fireworks display. The social aspect and the endorphins are sure to make the gathering enjoyable.
Although alcohol is a common staple at BBQs, it can easily be replaced with something else enjoyable. For instance, you can have a create-your-own smoothie station with different fruits, ice, and other additions. If you are planning the party for the benefit of a loved one, serve the non-alcoholic drinks that your loved one likes best.
Many people prefer to stay indoors and enjoy the air conditioning. You can offer several types of popcorn or various snacks and non-alcoholic drinks. A binge-worthy show may also help distract some people from thinking about alcohol or negative past experiences.
There are plenty of charities that provide services every day. Some may especially need extra help on Independence Day or other holidays. If you and your friends or family members are passionate about a certain charity, look into donating your time on Independence Day. Volunteering is one healthy way to enjoy rewarding feelings and to make the world a better place. Experiencing those feelings can give people who are newly sober another reason to appreciate their independence from alcohol.
Staying Committed to Treatment After Alcohol Rehab
Staying committed to treatment takes hard work. Having a support network is also important and provides valuable encouragement. Many people find strength from attending regular AA meetings and spending time with the friends they meet. Others may also be blessed with supportive family members or friends.
Good treatment facilities also make sure that people establish support networks when they leave rehab. Additionally, treatment facilities help people discover new hobbies, healthier lifestyle habits, and coping strategies for everyday life or triggers. These tools make sobriety possible for people who are committed to recovery.
Learn More About Treatment for Alcohol Addiction at Luna Recovery
If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol addiction, Luna Recovery in Houston, TX has solutions. We provide medical detox, inpatient treatment, and outpatient treatment services. Our comprehensive approach includes behavioral therapy, holistic therapies, dual diagnosis treatment, and more. For those who prefer additional comfort, we offer luxury rehab as well. Our job is to teach people effective strategies for beating addiction and coping.
We help people unlock their potential and show them how to navigate the world with the help and support of those who genuinely care about them. Our compassionate team is dedicated to helping each person maintain sobriety and live a healthier, happier, and fuller life.
If you or a loved one needs treatment, we are happy to help guide you as you take the next steps. To learn more about planning a sober 4th of July, getting treatment, or anything else, please contact us.
Dr. Allaire received his Bachelors of Science in Biology from the University of Houston, as Valedictorian of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and his Medical Doctorate from Baylor College of Medicine, where he served as Chief Resident. He is the medical monitor for the Physician Counseling Committee of the Harris County Medical Society and the Medical Director of Serenity House Detox. Dr. Allaire specializes in medically assisted detox cases, treating patients in recovery from addiction or other mental health disorders, the medical assessment and monitoring of patients with addictive disorders, medical care related to eating disorders and the medical treatment of patients with mental health conditions.