With Independence Day just around the corner, it’s another opportunity for millions of people to connect with friends and loved ones for celebration, however that may look in the age of COVID-19. The unfortunate reality is, however, that the Fourth of July and most other holidays, can also come with the potential for relapse or a setback in your recovery. A gathering of friends or loved ones can quickly turn into heavy drinking (or even drug use), triggers and temptation. There are, however, some things you can do to stay sober during a holiday weekend and keep your recovery top of mind.
BYOC – Bring Your Own Car
We’ve all been there: at the mercy of a friend when we really want to leave because they’re the ones who drove and you have no other way of getting home. While Uber has helped many of us avoid these situations in recent years, it still happens to the best of us. The problem is that for people in recovery, this goes beyond simply annoying to downright dangerous. If being around drug and alcohol use is a trigger, as it is for so many in recovery, you need to be able to remove yourself from the situation immediately. You can escape by taking your own wheels to the holiday party.
Support and Sobriety on Speed-Dial
While you’re taking your own car to the party, it helps to pack it with sober friends and people who understand what you’re going through. So often, we put ourselves in potentially dangerous situations because we’re afraid of being the outliers of the group or singled out. We go along to get along even though we may be uncomfortable. Surrounding yourself with supportive friends is a great way to get through the holiday weekend sober. If your sober friends can’t make it, let them know what’s going on so they can be available by phone for support.
Club Soda Never Goes Out of Style
Bring non-alcoholic drinks with you to the party. You will stand out less if you’re drinking something, and there are plenty of delicious non-alcoholic “mocktails” to be enjoyed while everyone is drinking to get drunk instead of for the taste. While your sobriety and recovery are certainly not things of which you should be ashamed, we’re all a little more comfortable when we’re not drawing attention to ourselves. Bring some seltzer and juice or even your favorite soda to, pardon the expression, blend in.
Say as Much or as Little as You Want
It may seem a little crazy to think about, but people may ask you why you’re not drinking. You do not have to tell them your whole life story; but it helps, and it might make you more comfortable, if you have an answer with which you’re at ease. You’re obviously under no obligation to share your personal information or, on the other side of the coin, hide your recovery. Just be you.
Change the (Drinking) Game
It doesn’t help your chances of surviving a holiday weekend sober if the all the activities revolve around alcohol use. Bring games that don’t involve drinking, like Cards against Humanity, Apples to Apples or any number of choices. You can also turn traditional drinking games into sober games—root beer pong, anyone?
In Case We Don’t Say It Enough…
Music is the medicine. The right soundtrack or playlist is an excellent weapon to survive your holiday weekend sober. Put together a playlist that puts you in a celebratory mood and lessens the anxiety of worrying about social drinking and having to explain yourself. The right song at the right time can change everything, even your weekend.
Know and Respect Your Limits
It’s OK to check in with yourself and your support system if things are becoming overwhelming. You’re not weak or less fun if you understand your triggers and act in the moment to take care of yourself. Call a member of your support system or even your therapist if you feel like things are escalating beyond your control.
Get A Good Night’s Sleep
Being tired or cranky can easy ruin a holiday weekend, impair decision making and make you irritable. Recognize when you’re tired and listen to your body telling you it’s time to stop and go to bed. Even if your friends or family want you to stay up, it’ll be a lot easier on all of them if you’re well rested.
Don’t Get Panicked, Get Help
If you find that you were unable to get through your holiday weekend sober and experienced a setback, Recovery Unplugged is ready to help you get back on track with your sobriety and recovery. You’re not alone and there’s no shame in asking for help again. Slips are more common than you think, and we’re going to help you get through it.