As the Fourth of July rapidly approaches, so do the family barbecues, firework shows, and parades that are often accompanied by a fair share of alcoholic beverages. In fact, the Fourth of July ranks as the country’s top beer-drinking holiday, with more money spent on beer than the combined amount spent on hot-dogs and hamburgers. The Fourth of July also ranks as number one for the most dangerous day to be on the road, for all the fatalities caused by drunk driving. If you are a recovering alcoholic, these numbers likely bring stress and fear into the equation. You may worry how you will maintain sobriety with all these temptations staring you in the face. Don’t let this fear keep you from going to the party and enjoying the holiday with your family and friends! There are plenty of ways you can stay sober throughout the holidays while still having a great time, keep reading for some tips and tricks on handling this situation!
Have a game plan
Upon entering a situation where you know drinking is likely to be present it is best to plan ahead for the possible positions you may find yourself in. A great place to start is by ensuring that you have a way out of the situation if you begin to feel overwhelmed. A helpful tip is to take separate means of transportation from the family or friends you are attending the event with, ensuring that you will not feel obligated to stay longer than you are comfortable. Another great way to prepare is by making sure there are people at the event aware of, and in support of your recovery. Perhaps even bring a friend with you who is also going through recovery, guaranteeing that feelings of loneliness will be avoided. It will be much easier to turn down a drink knowing that there is someone with you who is expecting and relying on you to remain sober. Lastly, a terrific idea to plan ahead would be to bring your own beverages. Pick up a few liters of soda or lemonade before you head to the event to guarantee that you have something else to sip on in case someone were to approach you with alcohol. "Mocktails", which are non-alcoholic drinks designed to mimic cocktails, are another delicious drink option to bring! There are tons of recipes out there that will help you make these alcohol-free drinks, which are sure to be a hit. Bringing beverages with you is also a great way to contribute to the event, and your host would be very grateful! If you need some last minute inspiration you can even refer to alcohol recovery quotes.
Notice who else isn't drinking
The likelihood of you being the only sober person at the holiday party is very slim! Keep an eye out for who else isn't drinking, or who the designated drivers are, and gravitate toward them. These friends will help you feel at ease, without the peer pressure to have a drink in your hand. Another option would be to surround yourself with your supportive friends and family that are aware of your recovery. They will commend you for staying strong throughout this time, and encourage you to remain on the right track. If you find yourself feeling distanced from the party, don’t be afraid to send a text or call a supportive friend for some extra encouragement! Your friends and family want to see you succeed in your recovery, and will be sure to remind you why it is essential to remain sober throughout these long days. Don’t be afraid to talk about your triggers, and why you are feeling this way.
Keep a non-alcoholic drink in hand
Whether you bring non-alcoholic drinks with you or prepare one for yourself once you arrive, keeping one in hand will help avoid any situations that may arise. A fear you may be having is how to respond upon being offered or handed alcohol by a friend. Having a soda or "mocktail" with you at all times will lower the chance of this happening, and if it does, you can say you already have a beverage. Holding a non-alcoholic drink throughout the get together will also keep you grounded, and help you fight off any temptations you may be experiencing. Another way to keep your hands full is through embracing all the delicious food served at holiday parties! Treat yourself to all the snacks you want, and compliment your host on whatever is your favorite. This will shift the focus away from the alcohol, and onto a topic everyone is sure to love discussing!
Plan fun activities to keep yourself occupied
No one knows your friends and family’s dynamic better than you, and if your social gatherings tend to consist of social drinking and engaging activities, plan some other enjoyable activities to do that wont affect your sobriety! Regarding that it is the Fourth of July, and likely warm weather, plan some fun outdoor games for everyone to play!
Some great ideas for outdoor games during your barbeque include:
- Ping pong
- Ring toss
- Beanbag toss
- A pinata
- Golf putting
If you're indoors, bring a deck of card or a small board game or handheld game that everyone can play! Having a fun outlook to distract everyone from drinking will make the experience much more enjoyable overall. Especially if your friends and family do not typically play games at your get-togethers, this will be something new and exciting for everyone. It is always a blast getting a little competitive with your loved ones, and these games will be sure to make your Fourth of July party a hit.
Don’t be afraid to tell people you aren't drinking
Your recovery and sobriety is an outstanding accomplishment and one you should be very proud of! In the case of someone pestering you about not engaging in drinking, and no thank you isn't the most comfortable response, there are many ways in which you can divert the conversation. If you are comfortable sharing your reasons for not drinking, go ahead. Being open about your recovery will help you to feel more relaxed when situations arise. However, if you are not in the mindset to talk about your recovery while enjoying the holiday, try one of these responses instead. Saying anything along these lines will be sure to get the point across that you are staying sober tonight:
- “I’m the designated driver tonight.”
- “I’m getting over an illness.”
- “I have plans later tonight/tomorrow morning that I can’t miss.”
- “I’m taking medication.”
- “I’m trying out a new diet.”
- “I’m doing a detox.”
- “I already have a drink.”
Plan how you will respond to a situation like this, to make sure you don’t experience feelings of pressure, uncertainty, or awkwardness. You are under no obligation to tell the details of your sobriety and recovery journey. Regardless of what you say, the most important thing is that you turn down the invitation to consume alcohol. Make it clear that you are uninterested and perfectly content with the beverage you already have in hand.
Be aware that you’re allowed to excuse yourself when necessary
Recovery is a challenging journey, and incorporating yourself back into social situations that involve drinking and other temptations can be both stressful and uncomfortable. As holiday parties drag on guest are likely getting more and more intoxicated. Know that you are under no obligation to stay the full length of the party! Whether you just got there or have been there all afternoon, do not be afraid to leave when you feel overwhelmed or tired. An easy way to do this without avoiding question would be to have a prepared excuse for your exit. Perhaps even warn the host ahead of time that you might be leaving early. Some good go to exit strategies can be informing the other guests that you have work in the morning, or another obligation to get back to tonight, such as a pet or a meeting with a friend. It is important to recognize when you are feeling these temptations and take action to distance yourself. You will not feel at ease in these types of environments overnight, as with the rest of your recovery journey it takes time, and that is perfectly okay.
Know that you are not required to attend the party
As just explained, comfortability around friends and family who are drinking alcohol while you are on the path of staying sober is not an easy task! If you are questioning your ability to handle this type of situation without feeling like you might go crazy, politely decline the invite. Responding with, “Thank you for the invitation, I would love to be there, but can’t.” is an ideal way to handle this. If you feel the event will bring you more stress than pleasure there is zero shame in planning a different way to spend your holiday. Make plans with other sober friends or ones in support of you to go out to dinner or see a movie that day, or the following day! This is an excellent way to still celebrate and have fun without surrounding yourself with temptations. Even more important, if you feel the guests attending the event are no longer the type of crowd you want to be around now is the perfect time to distance yourself and focus on the more meaningful, supportive relationships in your life. With sobriety comes change, and letting go of friendships based off of habits you no longer engage in, also known as drinking buddies, is essential for recovery to be successful. Not all of these friendships must end, for many can be supportive and encouraging of your journey, but it is critical to recognize the ones that are not and remove them from your life. Above all, your sobriety should be the biggest priority in your life right now and if that means skipping the holiday party, so be it.
Realize the holidays will come and go
While the Fourth of July is a fun and exciting holiday, don't lose sight of the reality that it is, along with any other holiday, just another day of the week. Another day that is not worth getting off your sobriety plan and possibly relapsing. After all, tomorrow will come, and the temptations and pressures of the event will be gone! If you are struggling, focus on the positives of staying sober throughout these time. There are many ways benefits of sobriety, and reasons to be thankful that you may have never considered! For starters, you are saving a huge chunk of cash that can be put into savings, or buying someone a gift for the holiday! You will also not have to worry about losing your composure in front of in-laws, or coworkers. Along with your overall health and relationships improving, sobriety brings nothing but positivity to your life! Keep this in mind as you tackle the holiday season that will be over before you know it.
Seek treatment during the holidays!
The holidays are without a doubt a time filled with temptations and triggers, which can be entirely avoided by entering rehab during the holidays. While you may feel you are missing out on an exciting time of the year, you will be exposed to strategies and knowledge on how to prepare for the next holiday, that you will celebrate sober! You will also be able to spend this time with others going through the same difficulties as you are, making the time much less lonely. While you may not be with your family, you are with other like-minded individuals who have the same goals in mind and are there to see you succeed. At Landmark Recovery, we want to help guide you to the best times of your life, as you embark on your new journey to sobriety. At Landmark, we will create a custom plan, catered to individuals specific needs, goals, and diagnoses. There is no better time than now to seek drug and alcohol recovery to start living a happier and healthier life!