Between outdoor BBQs, family reunions, and fireworks displays, the Fourth of July brings plenty of fun and relaxation. If you’re newly sober, though, it can also bring stress. That’s because most Independence Day events feature alcohol and other substances.
To stay safe while celebrating your first sober Fourth of July, follow these 10 tips.
1. Attend A Morning Recovery Meeting
At an addiction recovery meeting, you’ll connect with others who are preparing for a sober Independence Day. You can also learn coping strategies from more experienced members.
You might even meet people who are willing to check in with you later in the day. These connections can help you feel more confident as you attend parties and other potentially triggering events.
If you’re not sure where to find a meeting, popular support groups include:
2. Practice Self-Care
When you take care of your physical and mental health, you face a much lower risk of relapse. Before and after you attend any Fourth of July celebrations, try out some activities that boost your well-being. Popular options include:
- arts and crafts
- listening to music
- taking a bath
- spending time outside
- spending time with pets
Also, get at least seven hours of sleep, and eat vegetables, fruits, and other nutritious foods.
3. Ask Questions Before Attending An Event
The more you know about a party or other event, the more you can prepare for it. Ask the host about invited guests, planned activities, available food and beverages, and any other information that could help you avoid a trigger.
For example, if you learn that a former drinking buddy will be at a party, you could choose to spend your Independence Day elsewhere.
4. Bring A Sober Friend
At some Fourth of July parties, it might seem like everyone’s drinking or using drugs. This situation can be uncomfortable and even dangerous for someone in early recovery.
When you invite a sober friend to a party, you’ll feel less alone when you turn down substances. In addition, your friend can hold you accountable in case you feel tempted to relapse.
5. Drive Yourself
If you attend a party and feel a strong urge to drink or use other drugs, you should leave immediately.
If you carpooled, you might have to wait around until other people sober up or want to leave. Avoid this situation by driving your own car to the party.
6. Bring Your Own Drinks
At most Fourth of July events, someone will offer you a drink. It can be difficult to refuse these offers, especially when you’re newly sober.
Prevent the offers by always having a drink in your hand. Bring a six-pack of your favorite soda or other non-alcoholic beverage, and store it in an easily accessible cooler or fridge.
Consider pouring your drink in a solo cup. No one will know what you’re drinking, which means they won’t ask if you’d prefer an alcoholic drink.
7. Keep Your Phone Handy
At a party with drugs, a fully charged phone could save your life. If you feel unsafe, contact your sponsor, a sober person from your support group, or a supportive friend or family member. They can help you get to a safe place, especially if you couldn’t bring a sober friend to the party.
You can also use your phone to view inspirational quotes and coping skills. Before the event, make your favorite quotes and skills easily accessible on your phone. For instance, you could type a list of coping skills, take a screenshot, and set it as your phone background.
8. Plan An Exit Strategy
An escape plan can ease anxiety if you feel triggered and need to leave an event. Prepare a reason for leaving, such as “I have to head to another event” or “I’m not feeling well.”
You should also plan where you’ll go. If possible, head to a recovery meeting or supportive loved one.
9. Host Your Own Event
If you don’t feel ready to attend a party where drugs may be present, throw your own sober party. Your friends in recovery will appreciate having a safe way to celebrate. Just remember to tell any non-sober guests that the party must remain substance-free.
If you’d rather avoid the party scene altogether, plan a different group activity. For example, you could visit a lake, beach, or theme park. There, you and your loved ones can enjoy fun activities without even thinking about alcohol or other drugs.
10. Celebrate Your Independence From Drugs
While managing triggers is important, it shouldn’t consume your entire Independence Day. You can also treat the holiday as a chance to celebrate your independence from substance abuse.
Amidst the celebrations, reflect on how hard you fought to become free from addiction. Let yourself feel proud of your new life in recovery.
If you or a loved one struggles with substance abuse, please reach out to an Ark Behavioral Health specialist. Our drug addiction treatment centers provide a variety of recovery-focused services to help you stay sober.