As one of America’s booziest holidays, the Independence Day can be a major trigger for people in recovery. How can I still enjoy the holiday without risking my sobriety? We asked some sober friends for their tips on navigating the 4th of July while in sober.
1. Don’t Pressure Yourself to Do Something
This year may be a bit easier to sit out than usual. With COVID-19 case numbers spiking across the country, big parties and gatherings for the holiday are less common. But if someone you know is having a party, and you feel unsure, you can always skip it. Don’t pressure yourself.
Mike, founder of I Will Not Drink With You Today, says “Holidays come and go, there’s no reason you can’t sit this one out. If you feel like going somewhere may trigger you to drink, ask yourself: ‘Is it worth risking my sobriety?’ The answer is always no. Camp at home and watch how nothing is different afterward.”
2. Prepare your Coping Skills and Bring Them With You
If you are going somewhere, be prepared. Think about ways in which you can cope with any triggers that may arise. Amanda Gist, mental health and addiction speaker, suggests “excusing yourself for a ten minute walk, doing some deep breathing in the bathroom, or applying lavender essential oil to your neck and wrists to activate your parasympathetic nervous system. Another option would be to have a friend you can reach out to via text with the agreement that they’ll help you untangle the thoughts you’re struggling with in the moment of the trigger.” Keep a list on your phone of the various portable coping skills you can use if you find yourself in trouble.
3. Prepare Yourself for Questions, and Have Answers at the Ready
When you’re sober, being offered a drink at a party can be uncomfortable. Do you tell them your life story? Do you clam up? Amanda suggests having a verbal response prepared, so you won’t be stumbling around for words. “Have a few reliable one-liners. You could use the simple, but effective ‘No thanks, I don’t drink.’ Or the grateful but stern, ‘I appreciate the offer, that’s so thoughtful of you but I’m not drinking.’ Or you can always offer an alternative by saying ‘I don’t drink alcohol but I’d love a lemonade if you have one!’”
4. Bring a Substitute
Speaking of alternatives, Megan Kioulafofski, owner of Sol and Spirit, has a remedy for the sometimes awkward feeling of not having something in your hand whilst mingling. She says bringing a safe, non-alcoholic drink helps to avoid the awkward “you’re not drinking?” comments and also helps her feel like she isn’t missing out on anything. “I love to mix Kombucha with soda water, it has a nice bite to it,” she says.
If you are going the substitute route, try to make sure your non-alcoholic drink choice avoids triggers.
5. Be Ready To Remove Yourself if Needed
Joanne Ketch, of Chrysalis Counseling says, “Have your ‘outs’ ready and be willing to use them. The out can be physically leaving but it can also be a smaller ‘out’ such as a text, phone call or video chat with someone who can talk you through what you’re experiencing.” Planning ahead will help protect your sobriety in the event that the situation no longer feels safe.
Ultimately, we hope you have sober fun this 4th of July, in a way that feels safe to you. Whether it’s spending time at home with a pack of sparklers and a close friend or getting out and going to a party, a bit of planning will keep your sobriety safe. Thinking things through and preparing for different scenarios will mean you aren’t caught off guard or putting yourself at risk.
And if you find yourself struggling or in need of support, we’re always here for you. Call us anytime.