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Your Guide to a Sober 4th of July

Happy Independence Day! On July 4, 1776, all delegates of the 13 colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence and sent it to King George III to declare independence from Great Britain. This declaration led to the start of the Revolutionary War, which the colonists eventually won, and the United States of America was born. 


Ever since then, people have celebrated Independence Day with barbecues, fireworks, parades, community gatherings, and lots of red, white, and blue decorations. Many 4th of July celebrations also involve alcohol, just like much of America’s culture revolves around drinking during celebrations. Although it may be common, drinking or substance use does not need to be a part of your 4th of July — however you choose to celebrate. 


Sober Options for Almost Every Setting


This 4th of July, consider what your plans are. Are you meeting with friends or family? Are you going boating, to a parade, or another type of gathering? Maybe you have no plans yet but know that you would like to have company. Think about who you will be with and how you can stay sober in these scenarios:


  • Going to a parade or neighborhood barbecue. Many parades and neighborhood events are family-friendly and may not be an ideal place for drinking or substance use. This is great news for you if you are looking to celebrate in a safe space! Many parades do go past local establishments like bars, but you do not have to go in. You are strong and capable of having fun while sober. Invite friends from a 12-Step program or sober friends to join you. 


  • Celebrating with family. If your family has a view on drinking or substance use that differs from yours, talk to them before attending a family gathering. Validate that you know they like to partake in drinking when they celebrate but that you are having a sober holiday for your own health and safety. 


Some families may support you fully and offer to make the celebration dry for you, but that expectation may be too high for other families. If they cannot refrain from drinking or feel threatened that you will not, try not to feel sad or ashamed. You are allowed to set boundaries about your safety and stick to them. Communicate that you love them, but need to make other plans for your health. 


  • Celebrating with friends. When friends celebrate together, drinking or substance use can be a big part of their 4th of July or other summertime parties. Contact your friends before the day of the event. Let them know that you appreciate them, but you are trying to have a sober 4th of July for your health. 


Much like families, some friend groups may accept this and take it in stride, changing the event to be a dry event. Other friend groups may feel threatened or worried that it will lessen their fun to be sober with you. Again, try not to feel bad  — you have every right to set boundaries for your health and safety. Make other plans or find sober friends from a support group or 12-Step group to celebrate with.


  • Going boating. If your 4th of July plans consist of a day out on the water with friends or family, you may find it hard not to drink. To help keep you busy, try offering to drive the boat, be in charge of watching tubers or water skiers, etc. Your attentiveness and acknowledgment that you must not drink for your own safety and everyone else’s will be appreciated. If you do not want to drive the boat, that is okay too. Enjoying the water while sober is possible this 4th of July. 


  • Hosting your own party. Having your own party is a great way to stay sober this 4th of July. Play lawn games, throw a pool party or organize an event on your street. Whatever you do, you have the power to do it sober.


  • Going to a firework show. Fireworks are a staple for the 4th of July celebrations, and you can enjoy the show without any help from drinks or substances. Appreciate the lights and booms in a sober setting this year.


  • Working. It can be a bummer, but many people work over the 4th of July. If this is the best way for you to ensure that you will not drink or use substances, working could be a healthy way for you to spend a sober 4th of July. That extra cash cannot hurt either!


  • Just not celebrating. If you are not into the 4th of July festivities, you do not have to be. You can find other things to do, like hiking, binge-watching a new series, or enjoying your favorite hobby. If ignoring the 4th of July is the best way for you to stay sober this year, that is totally okay. 


Maybe you are one of those people who can still attend events that include drinking while staying sober. If you can hang out with other people who are drinking and stay sober, that is great! But we know this is not the case for everyone. With the 4th of July celebrations around the corner, having a plan to help prevent temptation on the 4th of July could be highly beneficial. Your health and safety are always the top priority. If you enjoy barbecuing, boating, or fireworks, you can offer to do any of those things for your group. If you need additional help, RECO Intensive is here for you. At RECO Intensive, we understand that the 4th of July — and holidays in general — can be tricky with lots of temptation. Our staff and experienced alumni can talk you through a sober 4th of July and beyond. Call us today at (561) 464-6533. Let’s get back to a brighter future, and have a happy and safe 4th of July!

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