The winter holidays can be a difficult time for recovering addicts, but we often forget how challenging the summer months can be, especially during 4th of July week. This holiday is just days away, and you may be feeling unsure of how to take part in the festivities without being overcome by temptation.
Like every other sober journey in your life thus far, you know that you have to be strong and positive. You may have to travel outside of your comfort zone, and this can be scary. Yet with the right mentality, good physical health and a strong support system surrounding you, the excitement of 4th of July can be enjoyed to the fullest.
Below are tips to keep in mind this holiday week and weekend so that you can enjoy a safe, sober 4th of July.
Avoid situations that will trigger negative thoughts, behavior or emotion.
It does get easier the further out you get from treatment, but the places you go will always require smart decisions on your part. Think about the places that you are invited to and opt out of those where you know that alcohol will be the main focus, even if it’s a family get-together. It’s best to choose sober environments, and if you can’t find a sober party, then create one yourself! The most important thing is that you choose to attend gatherings where there will be as little temptation as possible.
Have an exit strategy in place.
Despite your best efforts, you can easily end up in a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable. Perhaps friends show up to the party with a keg, or maybe you hear a song play that brings you back to your drug-using days. As you probably have learned, much is out of your control, and you can’t always predict what will happen when you’re out. What you can do is create a firm exit strategy. Know who you will call and how you handle an uneasy situation. This way, if you’re confronted with a bad scenario, you’ll know exactly what to do.
Maintain a positive support system.
You know all those wonderful people who have stood behind your recovery and encouraged you to be clean and sober? Keep those people around you as you move beyond your comfort zone. You may be ready to head down to a 4th of July festival, but you may be worried about what will happen if you see old friends or walk past the beer tent. Having supportive people around you will keep your mind focused on the right things, and if you happen to feel uncomfortable, they’ll understand your need to leave.
Manage your physical health.
The summertime is hot, so it’s easy to get tired, overheated and dehydrated. Keep your physical health in check by eating wholesome, natural foods like fruits and vegetables, which are in-season and super tasty. Drink water, sparkling beverages or fresh fruit juices to stay hydrated, and continue taking vitamins as directed by your doctor. Even with the longer days in effect, make it a priority to get 6-8 hours of sleep each night, and take advantage of the long, sunny days to get the Vitamin D and physical exercise that you need. A healthy body leads to a healthy mind, which in turn is motivated to make better choices.
Start new traditions.
If you’ve typically spent the 4th of July drinking with friends, it may be time to create a new tradition. There are plenty of healthy, rewarding activities you can enjoy such as mini golf, drive-in movies or a day at the beach. Some recovering addicts find that it’s helpful to get out of town for the weekend and stay at a family lake house or hotel instead. Encourage sober friends and family to start these new traditions with you. They may welcome some fresh ideas, too!
Be prepared to say no.
This sounds simple, but it’s something that requires confidence and practice. Be prepared to say ‘no’ if someone offers you a drink. Know exactly what you plan to ask for instead so that you can be firm in your response. Saying something like, “I will take a bottle of water, thank you.” shows that you’re not backing down in what you want.
Continue attending support groups.
Finally, don’t forget that your support groups are essential during the holidays when more social activities and alcohol are around. You may find that it’s helpful to attend an extra meeting a week, or you can find additional support through online forums or electronic meetings. It’s reassuring to know that others are going through the same uncertainty that you are but are finding creative, constructive ways to enjoy the holiday, just as everyone deserves.