Did you know the Fourth of July has one of the highest rates of drunk driving accidents and DUIs? Did you know that there are other options to getting behind the wheel when you’re under the influence? AAA is offering their usual “Tipsy Tow” service on the Fourth of July in an effort to get drunk drivers off the road. This is great news for those of you still out there, fighting sobriety one drink or drug at a time.
Another holiday is upon us, wherein we’re almost expected to imbibe. Fourth of July is geared toward BBQs, drinking, and the quintessential act of blowing things up. Many have parties, or know someone having a party, and it’s fairly easy to get caught up in the hullabaloo of celebration. Here’s the thing, once we get sober, some things change: our friends, our social activities, hopefully, our reactivity to this roller coaster we call life. We eventually make new friends, hopefully friends who are on similar paths and intent on acts of self-care and service work. But in the event you’re not there yet, or happen to have friends not sober but still safe (they exist, trust me, we call them “normies” and they have no intention of dragging us down the path of destruction!), there are some things you can do to ensure you are safe: emotionally and physically.
Avoid triggering situations. That may mean steering away from people you know push your buttons; It may mean not hanging out with old friends or in a situation that may cause you to lose your footing. HAVE AN ALTERNATIVE PLAN!!
Make a schedule: If you know you have to be somewhere that is uncomfortable or may trigger you, do your best to prepare yourself. Have an exit plan and create a start and end time for yourself.
Have a support system: Bring a sober pal with you; Let your sponsor know what’s going on and that you may need to call. If you find yourself in a situation where your sobriety is in peril, that support person will be there to help you find your way again.
What do you do when someone offers you a drink? I can’t tell you how many times this has happened to me in 18 years. I’ve literally lost count. In the beginning, I was less skillful in my responses and would bluntly (often harshly) tell people I was allergic to alcohol and that I broke out in bar fights. I was clearly more resentful of my sobriety in those early years. These days, I am quite grateful to be sober and therefore much more adept at my rebuffs. Now, I choose to let whomever know what I will drink and leave it at that. Be firm: if you hem and haw, you risk leaving someone an opening to pressure you to “have just one.” For the alcoholic/addict, we know there is no such thing as “just one.”
So, in the spirit of The Fourth of July, let’s celebrate Independence from the lens of our recovery. We have the opportunity to honor our independence from the bondage of drugs and alcohol. We can commemorate our independence from our destructive behaviors and appreciate our ability to participate in life, fully, and with no regret. Heck, maybe this year, we’ll be the sober pal supporting a new friend! How about them apples?
Have a safe and sober holiday—you deserve it!