Attending your first Fourth of July celebration in recovery? Read this:
There’s a lot to look forward to this Fourth of July. A day off from work, fireworks, and a sunny afternoon spent with family and friends are just a few of the things that make this holiday fun. As with any major “drinking holiday,” however, it’s important to keep focus on your progress made in recovery. So, here are 10 tips for staying sober while going to out to celebrate this Independence Day:
1. Ask questions
Ask questions about the event so you can prepare. Ask the host what activities, snacks, and beverages will be there. Ask if you can bring a friend. This clarifies what to expect and also gives the host the opportunity to better prepare.
2. Bring a friend who also chooses to be sober
If you’re attending an event or party where alcohol will be present, make sure a sober friend will be there in case you need the moral support. Sometimes having someone at your side to tell the party host or drink vendor, “No, we’re just going to stick with water,” can help keep you accountable and lessen any uncomfortable feelings you may have about declining a drink. Plus, inviting a friend along will guarantee you won’t be the only nondrinker at the party.
3. Hold a soda
Carrying a drink will keep your hands occupied and discourage others from asking the dreaded, “What can we get you to drink?”
4. Plan a “script”
Before you leave for the party or BBQ, brainstorm answers to any of the triggering questions you anticipate you’ll be asked and then practice your responses. Rehearse how you’ll answer questions like, “Can I get you a beer?” and “Why aren’t you drinking?” so you won’t be caught off guard.
5. Prepare an exit strategy
If a situation becomes too much to handle, you’ll need to be able to politely excuse yourself. Plan ahead by preparing an excuse and arranging for a friend to periodically call to check on you.
6. Make sure your sponsor or a friend will be “on call”
Keep your cell phone charged and make sure you have several people’s numbers saved in your phone just in case you need to call for help. This is especially important if you don’t have a sober friend at the event or party.
7. Bring your own car
Save the carpooling for another time. Drive yourself to the event so you can ensure you’ll have a getaway vehicle available. If the temptation to use or drink becomes too strong, the best thing you can do for yourself and your recovery is to leave the event immediately and drive yourself to a meeting or recovery support group.
8. Practice self-care
Get plenty of rest before and after the holiday, and don’t forget that exercise is your friend! Working out boosts endorphins and can help burn off any nervous energy you may be feeling.
9. Host your own party
What better way to guarantee alcohol stays out of sight during the holiday then to host your own party? Your new recovery friends are likely looking for something fun to do and will appreciate the invite. If you invite people who are not in recovery, make sure they understand that a “no alcohol” policy will be in place. If they care about you and want to support your sobriety, they will understand.
10. Don’t be afraid to say no to commitments
Know your limits. Never be afraid to say no to attending parties if you don’t think you’re ready. Don’t worry about hurting anyone’s feelings. A simple, “I’m sorry, I can’t make it. Thank you for inviting me,” will suffice. Remember, there will always be more parties; there will always be more Independence Days. Today, as it is with every day, your recovery should remain a top priority.