Summer is here! The weather is warm, the drinks are cold and the alcohol may be calling your name. As alcoholics, holidays can be tough for us. No matter where you are in your sobriety, celebrating the Fourth of July should not be a reason for you to pick up a drink. To help you have a fun, safe and sober Fourth this year, here are eight ways to stay sober during our country’s Independence Day.
- Make plans with your sober friends. Big holidays can be reminiscent of partying and drinking, especially with your drinking buddies. This year, why not make plans with friends and family who are sober? Going to a totally sober get-together might be the best decision you can make to celebrate the Fourth.
- Bring back the fun from your youth. Remember when the Fourth of July meant playing outside with your friends? Running around in the heat, jumping in the pool, roasting marshmallows by the fire and heading to a huge field at night to see endless fireworks? This year, head out to the carnival and firework shows where alcohol isn’t a factor and see how much fun you can have. Last year was my first Independence Day in the U.S. after several years living abroad in Mexico, and it was my second sober. My family and I enjoyed a local fair where we ate funnel cake, got our faces painted, listened to live music and watched the fireworks, ooohing and ahhhing until the big finale. It was more fun than I remember from Independence Days during my childhood. The best part? No hangover on July 5th.
- Do something for someone else. Holidays are an excellent time to volunteer. There are an endless number of places that need your help, whether it’s a homeless shelter, a childcare center or a treatment facility. Especially if you’re not feeling in the mood to celebrate, this would be a great time to put service into action and chair a meeting in a rehab or help give out food at a soup kitchen. Every other Sunday I go to a local rehab and chair a meeting; I find it extremely rewarding.
- Take a trip. While I don’t recommend running away from your problems, there’s a reason that summer is a big time for vacations. Traveling during the Fourth of July may help you keep busy and out of old patterns, while simultaneously giving you the chance to see the world through new eyes. I know from my own experience that there’s nothing more inspiring than traveling the world sober. I just spent a week traveling to three different cities across Canada and seeing several games of the Women’s World Cup. In my drinking days I would have researched which clubs to go to and what type of beer to drink. This time, I was able to see gorgeous mountains and parks while burning calories on a morning run in Vancouver, walk over five miles one day seeing the historical sites in Ottawa and try different types of French-Canadian food in Montreal. Remembering it all is a gift. This year, I’m spending the Fourth in Atlanta at a very special convention.
- Get fancy glasses and make fancy mocktails. As someone who doesn’t drink alcohol I feel lucky that I can still make fancy, beautiful drinks minus the expensive, damaging booze. There’s something about a delicious, bubbly, non-alcoholic drink in a pretty glass that just makes me feel good. As long as you’re comfortable drinking mocktails, I suggest making a special red, white and blue drink for the holiday. To keep the colors separated, choose the drink with the highest sugar content for the bottom of the glass. For example, add 3 ounces of fruit punch followed by 3 ounces of blue Gatorade and, lastly, sugar-free or Diet Sprite or 7-Up on top. Simple, festive and delicious!
- Prepare your exit strategy. If you do decide to go to an Independence Day party where they will be serving alcohol, you should have a way to gracefully make your exit if you need to. Plan the time you want to leave, or what excuse you’ll give if you need to get out of there fast. When it comes to staying sober, a white lie to leave an uncomfortable situation in a time of need is okay. Put your recovery first and go home if you need to.
- Host a BYONB party. BYONB stands for “Bring your own non-alcoholic beverages.” When I’m the host of the party I can dictate the types of beverages that will be served, so if you’re trying to stay sober this Fourth, why not host your own BYONB celebration? Your guests will respect your house/party rules and you’ll get to enjoy your holiday sober with no temptations around.
- Don’t suffer in silence. Above all, please remember that the Fourth of July should be a day to celebrate with family and friends. If you’re having a bad day and feeling insecure, tempted to drink alcohol or just depressed, there’s always help available. If you can’t reach a friend or a sober peer, call your local recovery hotline, head to a meeting or visit Addiction.com for resources to help you stay sober. It’s always better to speak up than keep your feelings inside.
Holidays can be stressful for everyone, and even more so for an alcoholic. There is no reason why you can’t go out and have a fun, safe and sober Fourth of July this year, sans alcohol. When you’re thinking of plans for Independence Day, use these tips to stay sober and happy. At the end of the day we’re all Americans living in the land of the free and home of the brave, with the possibility to party sober!