Whether you want to moderate or quit alcohol or drugs, holidays can be tough. Here are strategies to enjoy the Fourth of July in recovery.
For some of us, the Independence Day is more than just fireworks and barbecue. For those trying to moderate or quit drinking or drugs, holidays were once an excuse to party hard. It might take a while to figure out what to do and how to feel on holidays after your relationship with substances have changed.
The good news? Enjoying the holiday doesn’t require getting wasted. Here are some quick tips for an enjoyable Fourth of July at every stage of addiction recovery.
If you’re trying to moderate:
1. Use an app to track your drinking.
Many apps can help you track your drinking and your blood alcohol level. This can help you avoid mindlessly chugging drinks as you’re enjoying fireworks, ice cream, or other Fourth of July goodness.
2. Drink one glass of water or non-alcoholic beverage in between every alcoholic drink.
This will help you stay hydrated, and can also help you pace yourself.
3. Think of tomorrow.
Thinking of your day tomorrow can motivate you to moderate. How will you feel when you wake up? What will you need to accomplish? This year, the Fourth of July is a Wednesday. What are your Thursday goals? Set an alarm on your phone for 9pm, and remind yourself that you have to wake up and function in the morning.
If you’re trying to quit:
4. Make plans with people who support you.
Find something to do that doesn’t center around drinking. And don’t reach out to your old using buddies to see what they’re up to for the holiday. Not sure of who else to hang out with? Search for local recovery Fourth of July happenings near you, or see if you can volunteer at a community event.
5. Give yourself permission to celebrate in other ways.
It can feel funky to not drink or use on a holiday if that’s the only way you used to cut loose and relax. Take time to lounge in a pool, play with your kids without worrying about work, wake up early and go on a solitary hike, or indulge in delicious Independence Day desserts without guilt. Give yourself permission to celebrate by doing something you enjoy (other than drinking or drugs).
6. Don’t be afraid to duck out.
I have clear boundaries about what I will and won’t be around in my own addiction recovery. This doesn’t mean I cause a scene or stop a party if someone busts out a bong or everyone starts getting hammered. It just means I say goodbye to friends and excuse myself because I’m not comfortable around that type of substance use anymore. Prep yourself ahead of time with ways to say no to drugs and alcohol.
If you are a friend or family member of a loved one in addiction recovery:
7. Offer nonalcoholic beverages at the family gathering.
But don’t go out of your way to ban alcohol from everyone unless you’ve been asked to. It’s thoughtful to have something for your family member in recovery to drink, just as you’d offer other friends or family members alcohol during a celebration. Stock some Martinelli’s sparkling cider, La Croix, or mocktails.
8. Don’t out someone’s recovery to the rest of your guests.
People in different stages of recovery will feel comfortable talking about their personal journey to different extents. Let them lead the conversation.
As someone in recovery, I often find that those around me are much more uncomfortable about my choice to not drink than I am. The goal of getting together on a holiday is to enjoy each other’s company and celebrate together. So relax, and have fun. Happy Fourth!