The Fourth of July is also known as Independence Day. As folks in recovery, this presents a unique opportunity to celebrate independence from addiction and mental illness. It’s an opportunity to celebrate independence from the circumstances that fueled our addiction and facilitated our mental illness. Some addicts or alcoholics who are in the swing of their addiction may feel the abysmal pull toward darkness: institutionalization, jails, stealing, acts of violence, and even death. Others may continue to function, however, they proceed through life with the pull toward an internalized darkness: spiritual death, loneliness, isolation, depression, numbness, and an overall disconnection with others. Substance abuse is no walk in the park. Finding freedom from that level of deep suffering is truly liberating.
The Fourth of July is the recovering addict’s Independence Day, quite worthy of fireworks and colorful lights!
Because it’s the Fourth of July, there will be parties, fireworks, bonfires, and BBQs galore. In recovery? Ask around and see where the sober parties are! Frankly, I’ve always had more fun at sober parties than I did at the ones with drugs and alcohol. I not only remembered what I did at sober events, I found myself more inclined to be accountable for my actions.
However, maybe you’re not ready for a party; perhaps it’s too triggering, or maybe it’s too stimulating altogether. You still have options! Here are a few suggestions:
- See a movie with some friends;
- Go for a hike;
- Organize a sober camping trip;
- Schedule a spa day;
- Have a nice dinner with some close friends or loved ones.
It’s wise to avoid triggering situations. This means steering away from people who push your buttons; It means not hanging out with old friends or in situations that may cause you to lose your footing in your recovery. If you are in any of these situations, make sure you HAVE AN ALTERNATIVE PLAN!
Schedule your time: If you know you’ll be somewhere triggering on the Fourth of July, take precautionary steps. Create an exit plan with a determined start and end time.
Have a support system: Have sober reinforcements: friends in recovery, your sponsor; Let people in your recovery community know what’s going on and let them know you may need to call. If you find yourself in a situation where your sobriety is being threatened, a support person can help you regroup and get back on track.
What if someone offers you a drink or drug? Just say no. You don’t need a clarifier. “No” is a complete sentence. Be firm: if you are unsure or unstable in your response, someone may see that as an opportunity to pressure you to “have just one.” There is no “just one.”
This Fourth of July, let’s celebrate Independence through the lens of sobriety and our recovery. On July 4, we will honor our independence from the bondage of drugs and alcohol, and the delusion of addiction. We will celebrate our ability to participate in life, fully, and with no regret. Sober fun is the kind of fun you will remember and can enjoy wholeheartedly.
Have a safe and sober Fourth of July!