Summer is now in full swing and it’s time for summer barbecues, pool parties, and holiday get-togethers. The Fourth of July is a prime time for gatherings and that usually means people will be drinking. Whether you’re brand new to sobriety or you’ve spent a few summers sober, these holidays can always pose a bit of a challenge. If you’re feeling nervous about staying sober this year, here are a few ways to avoid drinking triggers during the Fourth of July.
Holidays are an especially challenging time to stick with sobriety, no matter how long you’ve been away from the bottle. 12-step programs and other recovery support groups typically hold meetings on holidays for this exact reason. Find a local group and start your Fourth of July with a meeting to get your mind right from the start of the day. You may prefer to find one midday as a way to take a break from the festivities if you find yourself feeling on edge.
There are plenty of events and activities on the Fourth of July that do not involve drinking. You don’t need to put yourself in a precarious situation if you don’t have to. If you’re with people who don’t understand why you aren’t drinking or pressure you to participate in things you aren’t interested in, opt to spend time with a group that supports your sobriety instead. Anyone who pushes you to do something that goes against what is best for you and your recovery doesn’t have your best interests at heart.
While drinking is a common focus of the Fourth of July, potlucks are another primary way to celebrate together. Find a group that’s holding a get-together (or host one yourself) where food is the focus of the event. It’s easier to bypass alcohol when there are fun foods to look forward to, from delicious barbecue to tasty side dishes to decadent desserts. Gathering over food is just as enjoyable as a drinking party.
It might be tempting to hitch a ride with a friend but it’s always a good idea to drive yourself to events. Getting a ride from someone else means you’re probably staying at the event until they’re ready to leave. Driving your vehicle gives you an out whenever you start to feel nervous or uncomfortable. Avoid feeling trapped in an awkward situation by bringing your vehicle with you so you can leave as soon as you’re ready to.
If you’re going to an event where you know alcohol will be the focus, prepare an escape plan beforehand. Have another event to go to or a friend you can call if you need to do something else when the time comes to leave. Driving your vehicle makes it easier to follow through on your escape plan. If you can’t drive yourself, arrange for someone to be ready to pick you up at a moment’s notice.
Sometimes the best way to find an event you want to attend is to host it yourself. Invite friends over for a pool party, ask everyone to bring their favorite dish, and request that it be an alcohol-free event. Hosting the event yourself means you get to call the shots, from who you invite to what the party centers around.
Being sober on the Fourth of July doesn’t automatically mean you can’t have fun. There are plenty of ways to enjoy yourself without having to drink. These suggestions are only a few of your options; you can likely find a variety of parades, celebrations, fireworks displays, and more in your community. No matter what you choose to do, keep your sobriety front and center and you’re guaranteed to have a great holiday.