By Michael Leach

July 4th is a wonderful time to enjoy a day off from work, go to a BBQ, set fireworks and spend quality time with family and friends. There is always someone hosting a party and serving up beer and cocktails. 

July 4th is also America’s top beer-drinking holiday. It’s estimated that over one billion dollars is spent on this day on beer, and over $450 million is spent on wine. It is undoubtedly a day of drinking and celebrating for many people. 

Yet, this can be challenging for someone in recovery from alcoholism or drug addiction. Staying sober on July 4th is not impossible. It should not be considered a chore or an impossible task, nor should it be considered a reason not to have fun. There are practical tips that anyone can use to stay sober on Independence Day. 

“There are obstacles during holiday celebrations, which can be challenging but not impossible for those in recovery. Utilizing practical tips is the best way to stay sober,” said Marcel Gemme of 

Attend parties and BBQs with other sober people. Bringing sober friends is a good idea because it can add an extra layer of support. Bringing non-alcoholic drinks or mocktails to the party is also a good idea. This can help avoid those pesky relatives who insist you have a drink in your hand and who do not take no for an answer. 

Recognize and manage relapse triggers and negative emotions. Relapse triggers could be people, places or environments. It could be anything that could trigger a craving leading to a relapse. Have a good idea of what these are to avoid or manage them. In addition, have a healthy outlet for any negative emotions or feelings, which is why it’s good to have a sober buddy come with you. 

Have an exit strategy if things become too much to manage. Practice what to say if you feel uncomfortable leaving abruptly. Bring your vehicle, arrange rideshare or take a taxi home. It’s okay to say no, turn down invitations and leave parties early. Do not worry about offending anyone; just set yourself up in a way that if you need to go, you can do so easily. 

Independence Day is about freedom. Part of this freedom is choosing which direction your life goes. Sobriety is fantastic and gives such a new and beautiful perspective on life. Enjoy the 4th of July, create new memories and traditions, and enjoy quality time with family and friends.

Michael Leach has spent most of his career as a healthcare professional specializing in substance use disorder and addiction recovery. He is a certified clinical medical assistant and contributor to the healthcare website Recovery Begins.