When you’re newly sober, any holiday can represent a challenge to your recovery, but July 4 is especially difficult for many people. Thanks to pervasive marketing, the occasion is virtually synonymous with parties and drinking. If you’re working to overcome an alcohol addiction, how can you avoid a relapse on Independence Day?
1. Be the Host
The most straightforward way to protect your recovery on July 4 is to throw a party yourself. That way, you’ll be able to control all the variables, including who you invite. On the invitations, be sure to specify that your gathering is substance-free. Another benefit of playing the role of host is that it will likely keep you occupied all day, which will help you avoid boredom and temptation.
2. Choose Your Gathering Strategically
If you lack the time, space or inclination to host an Independence Day party, consider your other options for attending a sober event. For example, you could have a small get-together with your family and close friends who understand and support your recovery goals. That way, you won’t need to worry about anyone pressuring you to drink.
3. Have a Strategy
If you plan to attend an Independence Day gathering where you think other guests might be drinking or using other substances, know in advance what you’ll do to protect your sobriety. For example, you could invite your 12-step sponsor to come with you to keep you accountable throughout the day.
Before arriving at the party, rehearse what you’ll say if someone offers you a drink, and be sure you know what you’ll do if the stress and pressure feel too intense. For example, perhaps you can excuse yourself and go for a walk around the block, or find a quiet room in the host’s house where you can sit and meditate until you regain your composure. If you drive to the get-together, make sure no other cars are blocking you in, so you can leave early if you need to. You are not under any obligation to stay if you feel like circumstances are threatening your recovery.
4. Know What You’ll Do If You Slip Up
Even with the most meticulous planning, you may make a mistake and give in to the temptation to have a beer. Don’t let that slip-up put you on the vicious spiral back toward substance abuse. Have a strategy to get on the right track immediately. Here, again, is where your accountability can help you. Have your sober sponsor on speed dial, so they can talk you through this setback and steer you in a positive direction. Remember, one misstep does not mean you’ve failed in your recovery efforts.
5. Evaluate Your Progress
A holiday like Independence Day is an excellent opportunity to review how far you’ve come in your recovery. Reminding yourself of all the accomplishments and achievements that have defined your sobriety journey up to this point can help you recommit to your goals and realize that your health and well-being are worth pursuing.
6. Create a New Tradition
Often, the best way to break free of old habits is to start over from scratch. If the powerful urge to drink makes backyard barbecues too dangerous at this point of your recovery, do something completely different this July 4. For instance, you could spend the day volunteering, journaling or attending a yoga retreat.
How to Make a Fresh Start
Spearhead Lodge’s evidence-based, 90-day treatment program is ideal for young men looking to recover from substance use disorders in a single-gender environment. We welcome your call 24/7 when you’re ready to learn more.