Most people think of the 4th of July and they think of barbeques, parties, and of course, alcohol. As a recovering alcoholic, the heady combination of a festive mood and a plethora of alcoholic beverages can make it difficult to abstain, especially under the weight of social expectations. If you want to maintain your sobriety, it is crucial that understand that you will be tempted and you will have to say no to alcohol, possibly several times throughout the day. Avoiding temptation can be difficult and you should be prepared for that, but with a little planning and preparation, you can stay sober over the 4th of July.
Hopefully you can use these 7 ideas to maintain your sobriety and enjoy your holiday.
1. Remember Why You’re Sober
Taking the time to write down your motivation and reasons for staying sober can help you to remember why you don’t want alcohol when temptation comes up. Performing a simple exercise before going out to a party or a barbeque can help you to remember that motivation. Take a piece of paper and make a line down the center. On one hand, write down all your reasons to stay sober. You can write down the names of people you love, your job, your health, your future, or any other personal motivations that you have. On the other side, write down what is likely to happen if you relapse. When you’re tempted, think about that list.
2. Attend a Meeting
Many 12-step groups hold meetings on the 4th of July specifically for people who may be having trouble over the holiday. Attending a meeting, even if it’s very short, can put you in the right frame of mind to resist temptation. Because your group will be holding you accountable, you will also have an extra layer of motivation to stay sober.
3. Get Some Exercise
Exercise can boost endorphins, sending dopamine and serotonin to the reward center in your brain. This naturally makes you feel better and reduces cravings. While you shouldn’t go all out and exhaust yourself, taking time to get light exercise throughout the day will help you to feel better. If you don’t have time to go to the gym, you can get exercise in other ways. For example, participating in outdoor sports such as volleyball or baseball, playing with kids, walking or biking to your destination instead of driving, or going for a swim.
4. Bring Your Own Drinks
Going to an outdoor party or family grill or barbeque can be a lot of fun, but you may want to bring your own drinks. This is especially crucial in areas where it’s customary to spike group drinks with alcohol. Bringing your own drinks is less important at locations where there will be children, but it can still be a good idea. If you’re going somewhere outside, bringing your own cooler of iced drinks will help you to avoid temptation as well because you won’t have to see alcohol every time you go to get a normal beverage.
5. Talk to Friends and Family
If your family and friends are not aware that you are staying sober because you have a problem with alcohol, now is a good time to have the discussion. Break the news gently, and explain that you cannot have alcohol because you are in recovery and it will be harmful to you and your mental state. In most cases, this kind of talk will go over better if you frame it as your problem without going into health or the dangers of alcohol. Why? Many people who drink feel personally attacked when told that alcohol is harmful or addictive. In this case, your being sober might come off as you trying to be better than them, which you aren’t. Choosing to use phrases like, “I have a problem with alcohol and I cannot have it”, or “I had to go to rehab because I was hurting myself and my therapist agrees that I shouldn’t drink anymore because I don’t currently have the self-control to maintain my recovery”, helps to communicate that you personally don’t want to drink without ‘attacking’ their choice to continue drinking.
6. Plan Activities
There are plenty of fun activities that you can enjoy throughout the 4th of July without indulging in alcohol. More importantly, keeping yourself busy and having fun ensures that you aren’t thinking about alcohol. Plan an itinerary for your day, try to make sure that you’re in the company of people you trust when you will be around alcohol, and plan to have fun. For example, you can plan in sports, swimming, time with family, trips to a local fair or event, and plan to do fun, sober things at each.
7. Get a Sober Buddy
While keeping yourself busy and motivated to stay sober is a big help, many people find that having a sober buddy helps them to stay sober. A sober buddy is someone else who is also sober, who will either spend the day with you or be available via text or phone to support you in case you experience cravings. Your sober buddy should be nonjudgmental, because you need to feel comfortable discussing cravings with them so that they can talk you down and find you something else to do. And, if they are in recovery as well, they will likely expect the same support.
Holidays like the 4th of July are often the most difficult for recovering addicts, simply because alcohol is such a huge part of American culture. While you can’t indulge in alcohol, you don’t want to either. Many recovering alcoholics make the mistake of romanticizing how much fun they had while drinking, which makes it more difficult to abstain. However, chances are that you weren’t really having that much fun, you were just drunk and might not even remember your holidays with alcohol. Everything you can do with alcohol, you can do sober, and do better. From dancing, to singing karaoke, to enjoying food off the grill, you will have a lot more fun sober.
If you can keep that in mind, plan your time, and ensure that you have normal drinks on hand, you can stay sober.
Enjoy your 4th of July.
If you or someone you love is having a hard time staying clean and sober, please contact Lighthouse Treatment Center today for help. We are happy to provide a no-cost, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced treatment advisors. Contact us today.