For a lot of people, there’s no 4th of July without a keg of beer and red, white, and blue Jello shots. But what happens when you’re in recovery? Read on to learn 5 ways to celebrate the 4th of July without alcohol. You’ll also learn strategies to help you stay sober if you find yourself surrounded by alcohol.
The 4th of July is just a few days away and that means family BBQs, outdoor sports, and fireworks. For many, it’s also one of the biggest drinking holidays of the year. In fact, Americans spend $1 billion on beer and another $568 million on wine and spirits to celebrate the holiday. To say that Independence Day is a booze-soaked holiday is putting it lightly.
While these boozy celebrations may be fun for some, they’re a massive source of stress for those in recovery. After all, when there’s alcohol everywhere, it can be easy to fall into a “just this once” trap and relapse.
But you can enjoy this exciting day without turning to alcohol, it just takes some forethought and planning. To help you navigate a sober Independence Day, here are 5 ways to celebrate that don’t involve alcohol.
1. Go To A Morning Meeting
Starting the day off on the right foot can set the tone for the type of day you’re going to have. If you’re in recovery, that means taking advantage of the early morning meetings offered by various Alcoholics Anonymous chapters.
When you’re at the meeting, discuss your fears or hopes for the holiday, as well as your plans for celebrating the 4th of July without alcohol. Sharing your feelings with like-minded people who are navigating the same challenges as you can help you establish a positive mindset for the rest of the day.
If you’re not a morning person or can’t make it to a meeting, attend a virtual one. Pretty much every AA chapter across the country offers sessions online. You can browse a directory of virtual AA meetings here.
2. Host A Sober BBQ
Just because you’re not drinking doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the fun. After all, everyone loves getting together with family and friends to share a delicious summer meal.
In your invitation, make it clear that you’re celebrating 4th of July without alcohol and be sure to offer plenty of refreshing drink options. This page has loads of mocktail recipes that will make your guests forget all about the alcohol.
In addition to providing alternative drink options, have activities on hand to keep your guests occupied. Offer options like horseshoes, cornhole, and a three-legged race during the day and things like marshmallow roasting and sparkler lighting at night.
3. Head Outside
Whether you choose to go for a bike ride, take your dog for a walk, or play a game of frisbee, being outside is great for keeping your spirits high and your mind off of alcohol.
4. Get Some Exercise
On a similar note, make a point of moving your body. Exercise offers loads of benefits for both mental and physical health, both of which are helpful when you’re sober. As a bonus, exercising is a great way to burn off the extra calories you’ll consume if you’re going to a barbeque.
When you’re busy helping others, you’re too busy to think about yourself. That’s something that can be very powerful when you’re in recovery. That’s because those in recovery have a tendency to engage in constant self-observation. While this practice can be valuable at times, it can also lead to overthinking and self-criticism, both of which make abstaining from alcohol more difficult. Rather than getting stuck in your own head this 4th of July, spend time giving back.
If your community hosts a fireworks show or other Independence Day celebration, reach out to the organizers to see if you can get involved setting up, manning concession stands, or monitoring parking.
You could also use America’s birthday as an opportunity to give thanks to our troops. Send a letter of appreciation to a serviceperson, first responder, or veteran through Operation Gratitude. Or, you could send a care package to military personnel with personal care products, entertainment, and non-perishable treats. This organization can help make sure your package gets to the right person.
6. Have A Movie or TV Show Marathon
Hosting a movie or TV show marathon is a great choice if you prefer relaxing over partying on 4th of July. It’s also a helpful plan B in case other events get rained out. Catch up on whatever you’ve been meaning to watch, or choose from these patriotic picks.
- Air Force One
- Top Gun
- Independence Day
- Born on the Fourth of July
Don’t see anything you like? No worries, there are even more movies here!
What To Do If You End Up At A Party With Alcohol
Even the best-laid plans go awry sometimes. It’s annoying, but that’s life. If you find yourself around alcohol or people who are drinking, it’s important to know how to handle the situation so you don’t find yourself with a beer in hand, wondering how you got there.
We’ll share our 6 tips for managing yourself at a party with alcohol, but before we do, there’s something important worth mentioning.
If you’re just starting your recovery process, we strongly recommend staying away from get-togethers where there will be substances. Recovery isn’t just about abstaining from alcohol or drugs. Rather, it’s a lifelong process of doing personal inventory to discover ways to cope with stress and other triggers that lead to substance use in the first place.
Not surprisingly, this process takes time. That’s why it’s so important not to put yourself in a situation where you might feel triggered and reach for a drink. Without the proper tools and healthy coping mechanisms in place to manage these triggers, staying sober can feel impossible if you try to do it before you’re ready.
With that in mind, here are 6 ways to handle being around alcohol this 4th of July.
Have a plan
Before you step foot at a party where alcohol might be present, figure out what you’ll do if the temptation to indulge hits. Your plan should be specific to you, but some helpful strategies include leaving the beverage area and enjoying a favorite food or recruiting someone to talk to when temptation hits.
Bring your own beverages
When heading to a 4th of July celebration, make sure to pack some of your favorite non-alcoholic beverages. Or, you can take the opportunity to try some new drinks you wouldn’t normally buy, such as kombucha or flavored ice tea.
Bringing your own drinks means not having to rummage through a cooler filled with beer or wine (thereby avoiding the temptation all together). It will also keep people from offering you a drink every five minutes.
A great way to avoid peer pressure to drink is to drive yourself to the party. Once people hear that you’re driving, they’ll be more likely to leave you alone when it comes to drinking.
Driving yourself also means that you have a quick escape from the party if you’re feeling anxious or uneasy about the drinking taking place.
Bring a sober friend
If possible, bring a friend who is also in recovery to the party. Having an accountability partner will help both of you remember how important your recovery is. They can also act as a sounding board if you’re feeling tempted to drink. Together, you can also decide on a code word that either of you can use when it’s time to leave—no questions asked.
Write a phone reminder
Chances are you’re going to pull out your phone to take pictures or check Instagram during the party. Take advantage of this time by writing an inspirational message on your home screen that reminds you of your goal. Every time you use your phone, you’ll be reminded to stick to your goal, even when things get tough.
Make an exit strategy
Even if you’re confident that you’ll be okay, it’s always a good idea to have an escape plan in case things get too stressful or triggering. This could be something as simple as saying you aren’t feeling well or have another party to get to. You could also drive yourself or bring a friend with you so you don’t have to spend the rest of the day alone.
Happy 4th Of July From La Fuente!
While we’re looking forward to relaxing, enjoying the awesome summer weather, and spending time with loved ones, we also understand how difficult it can be to spend holidays sober, especially when you’re in the early stages of recovery. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to help you celebrate your 4th of July without alcohol. We hope that it’s given you ideas, inspiration, and strength.
Still, we recognize that for those struggling with alcohol and substance use this guide may not be enough. If that’s the case for you, we encourage you to fill out the contact form below. A member of our staff will get in touch to help answer any questions you may have about our Los Angeles Treatment Center.
You deserve to live a happy, productive life and La Fuente can help you get there. Contact us today!