Updated: Jul 6
Traditionally, celebrating the Fourth of July in America involves barbecues, parades, fireworks, flags, and booze - lots of booze. It can be a fun and exciting patriotic weekend for most, but for those early on in recovery, all of the drinking can be exceptionally triggering.
Even though I'm closing in on one year, the Fourth of July weekend is still very daunting to me. Seeing all of my peers with a drink in their hands makes me feel nostalgic and reminisce. Because the Fourth can be a stressful day for newly sober folk, I've listed a few tips for getting through the day. These tips are as much for you as they are for me!
Tip 1: Prepare for the day
The most important thing about going into the Fourth of July is to go into it prepared. If you're attending a party or social gathering, ask the host questions about whether or not there will be drinking. You can ask about what activities are planned, what beverages they'll have available, and anything else that is important for you to avoid possible triggers. Just in case, make sure to buy your favorite non-alcoholic beverage to have on hand wherever you plan on going. Too often than not, the only non-alcoholic beverage options are water and soda. Plan ahead and bring something that you enjoy drinking so that you can satisfy your thirst and temptation.
Tip 2: Prepare your exit strategy
In the case that you do feel triggered or tempted, having an exit strategy is more than ideal. Driving your car is a good way to ensure that you can leave whenever you'd like. Whether you're triggered or tired, you have the option to opt-out whenever you feel like it. It's an extra added bonus that you're not reliant on anyone else for how long you'd like to stay. If you don't have a vehicle, have your phone handy to book an Uber or to look up metro/bus times. Remember to put yourself first, and listen to yourself for what you need throughout the day.
Tip 3: Focus on staying centered
Remember to prioritize self care into your day, whatever this means for you. This can look like meditating in the morning, or practicing breathing throughout the day. If you need some space, don't be afraid to step away from the party for a breather. Your sobriety is more important than pleasing your peers. If you need to attend a meeting, have the times and link readily available on your phone. If it's in person, make sure you schedule around your meeting.
Tip 4: Celebrate your sobriety
Since the Fourth can be triggering, remind yourself why you chose to be sober in the first place! It might be tempting to fall back into social norms, but remember all of the hard work you have done and how far you've come. Instead of thinking of all of the ways that you are missing out, celebrate all of your accomplishments and be prideful that you'll be able to remember this Fourth of July tomorrow morning. This is a hard day, and you should be extremely proud of yourself for working through it!
Tip 5: Spend the day with those who support your recovery
Spending the day with someone who understands your sobriety journey will make the day 10x easier. If possible, spend the day with someone who is also sober so you have someone to lean on if you're feeling anxious. If it isn't possible, make sure to have someone to call for support in the case of an emergency. You don't have to go through this alone.
The Fourth of July can be a fun patriotic holiday, but stressful nonetheless if you're newly sober. Hopefully, these five tips will help you navigate through the holiday with a little bit more ease. It is always the hardest the first time around. I'll be right there with you this Fourth of July. The holiday can still be a fun time to celebrate, even if that means it'll look a little different for you this year.
If you need someone to call, reach out to me on my blog or on my instagram, and I'll try to provide the support you need. Have a happy Fourth, and congrats on your sobriety!