You’ve worked hard to get and stay sober. However, with the 4th of July just around the corner, American Addictions Centers (AAC) wants to remind you that it’s worth taking a pause to consider how you will get through the celebrations of the weekend with your sobriety intact. After all, any holiday typically comes with plenty of drinking in celebration, usually when surrounded by family and friends. The 4th of July is no exception.
The 4th of July has the second highest rate of binge drinking by both men and women, the first being New Year’s Eve. On the 4th of July weekend, 33% of men and 24% of women binge drink (defined as five or more drinks for men and four of more drinks for women within two hours). It’s common for people in recovery to be in situation where they will be tempted by alcohol and drugs. Yet, chances are they want to enjoy the celebrations with their loved ones. With this in mind, AAC offers up these tips to stay sober and abstinent during the upcoming Independence Day weekend.
Don’t Miss Your Meetings
If anything, go to more meetings. If you are in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA), you will need the support of the meetings and the people at them to help you through the upcoming 4th of July festivities. And meetings don’t take the holidays off.
Whether you are early in recovery or have been in recovery for a while, you will have met people who are willing to be with you, listen, and help you through tough times and temptation. These meetings will also ensure you keep your foundation strong, regardless of what’s going on in your life.
Check in with Your Sponsor
If you are in AA or NA, you will ideally have a sponsor. Whether you’re going to be around any 4th of July festivities or you think you will struggle with knowing what to do with yourself at a time when you used to drink and party, keep your sponsor on speed dial. Your sponsor knows what it’s like and they are there to support you as much as you need. When you are feeling vulnerable or temptation is calling, call your sponsor.
Stick to Your Schedule
Being in recovery means you probably have a daily and weekly schedule you maintain. Aside from regular daily activities, this schedule might include things like outpatient appointments, meetings, daily readings, meditation and prayer, calls with your sponsor, and journaling.
During the 4th of July weekend do not miss out on any of these aspects of your life. If you meditate or pray when you get up in the morning, then do it. If you attend an evening meeting that day of the week, then excuse yourself from the festivities and go. If you journal at the end of each day, don’t miss out. You might need its therapeutic value even more after a day of sober celebrations.
Your schedule is part of your foundation. It’s what keeps you in a routine of sobriety. If that schedule gets disrupted, temptation can push its way through and it will be much harder to fight it off.
Stage of Recovery Matters
There is and always will be a risk of relapse, no matter how long you’ve been sober. However, if you are in the earlier stages of recovery, you might be more vulnerable than those who have been in recovery for a longer period of time.
If you are new to recovery, whether you have recently come out of a treatment center, attend an outpatient program, or have found recovery on your own through AA or NA meetings, you need to be very careful about who you are with during the celebrations. It is not recommended that you are around heavy drinkers, particularly if you are in your first year of recovery and/or haven’t yet worked through all the 12-steps recommended by AA or NA.
Celebrate with People Who Support You
At any time in recovery, it’s important to surround yourself with people who support you. This is especially the case during the early stages of recovery. You may have already severed ties with your old drinking and using buddies. If not, they might not be the best people to celebrate the 4th of July with.
Instead, seek out the people who know you are in recovery and are supportive of your efforts. Be with them. They are more likely to refrain from offering you drinks and less likely to drink a lot around you. They can also act as a buffer between you and someone who might offer you a drink.
Say No When You Need To
You can say no. It’s okay to say no. Chances are, the people at the festivities will know about your recovery, particularly if you have surrounded yourself with supportive people. Anyone who doesn’t know, but is supportive of your efforts, will accept that no and move on. And anyone who isn’t certain about how serious you are about your recovery will soon find out when you refuse a drink at a celebration like the 4th of July. So, stay strong!
Make Sure You Have an Escape Plan
Even with the most careful planning and the best of intentions, emotion often overwhelms people in recovery, particularly those new to recovery. After all, holidays can easily bring up bad memories and old habits want to kick in. You have changed the way you do things on a deep level and that can be hard to deal with.
If you are at a celebration, whether that’s a big party, fireworks, or out at a venue, and you begin to feel uncomfortable, it’s important to have an escape plan in place. Maybe you’re being pressured to drink. Maybe you don’t like being around people who are drunk. Maybe you feel the temptation to drink or have bad memories surface. Whatever the situation, have a plan to leave if you need to. Having a friend who supports you and your recovery efforts can help make these instances less difficult.
One of the greatest challenges of recovery is maintaining that recovery when you get back to daily life. Part of daily life is the holidays we celebrate with our loved ones each and every year. Following the tips laid out above will help you enjoy the 4th of July holiday in recovery, and just maybe, you will start some new traditions you will look forward to every year.
About American Addiction Centers
AAC is a leader in providing addiction treatment through their treatment centers across the U.S. They offer a holistic approach to drug and alcohol addiction that takes into account co-occurring mental health conditions, environment, health, and lifestyle. This allows them to create a treatment plan that is customized to the patient’s needs.
Through their efforts, AAC has become a publicly funded company that has achieved a success rate that is double that of the national average. To find out more or to find a treatment program that is right for you or a loved one, contact us at AmericanAddictionCenters.org or follow us on Twitter @AAC_Tweet.
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