For most Americans, the Fourth of July includes fireworks, sparklers, picnics, and good food. But alongside the burgers and hotdogs, alcohol is socially acceptable, abundant, and potentially excessive. For individuals in recovery from addiction, making it through a normal day can be incredibly difficult, but during a holiday there are bound to be parties and events with triggers that could contribute to a relapse.
Having a plan in place before attending a social gathering can be incredibly helpful for maintaining sobriety. Here are some tips for staying sober this Independence Day:
- Talk to Family and Friends: Gathering a group of people to help you enjoy a sober situation or making sure that there are other guests who won’t be drinking can help a lot.
- Host the Party: When you are hosting the party, it is easy to make sure that there won’t be alcohol available. Let your guests know that your celebration will be alcohol-free and that you want to celebrate with them to have an enjoyable time.
- Attend a Meeting: Attending meetings can give you a chance to talk to other people that might be experiencing the same feelings as you. While family members and close friends might be able to provide support, attending meetings can give you a place where others understand exactly what you are going through.
- Attend the Celebration with a “Sober Buddy:” Having someone by your side that also isn’t drinking will help you resist the urge to drink and you both can hold the other accountable.
- Learn to Say “NO:” Have a plan in place for if/when someone offers you alcohol. You can choose to be upfront and say that you are currently in recovery, or you can choose to say that you are driving or that you don’t want to be hungover tomorrow.
- Be Intentional with a Purpose: Develop and focus your intent for celebrating with others. If you have a purpose, this can assist in keeping your thoughts and therefore, your feelings, out of distress. When attending social functions/celebrations, it is helpful to make your purpose to “be of service to others” and/or “enhance others’ experience” as they interact with you.
- Remember that Relapse DOES NOT Mean Failure: Addiction is a disease that affects the way your brain works, so relapse is also part of the disease. Recovery is a lifelong journey, and it can mean that someone is making progress, but they are not “cured.”
Daniel Cuevas, Case Manager for Santé’s Day Intensive Outpatient Program, says that if drinking will be present, you can count on impulsive thinking to occur. You can redirect your thoughts by taking an interest in others with actions such as:
- Inquiring and deepening your questions about what is relevant to those you are having conversations with
- Assisting in keeping things tidy by cleaning up areas, discarding trash, asking the host if there is anything they need help with.
- Reorganizing chains or anything that has been moved
- Keep moving and stay out of your head. If all else fails, implement grounding techniques (5 things you see, 4 things you touch, and 3 things you hear) to get back to being present
Recovery can be difficult and there may be relapses on the way, but it is possible to lead a sober life with recovery support. For more on relapse prevention at Santé Center for Healing, click here.
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Article by Vedika Bakre