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Staying sober is not impossible on July 4th

By Michael Leech

The Fourth of July is an incredibly festive time. Millions of American families come together to celebrate freedom. Nationwide there are BBQs, picnics, family gatherings, and days spent at the beach. It’s a big day celebrating America and freedom.

July Fourth is also America’s top beer-drinking holiday. It’s estimated that over one billion dollars is spent on beer. Statistically, in Kentucky, there are low rates of underage drinking. Roughly 16% of adults over 18 binge drink at least once per month.

Holidays like July 4th can be challenging for people in early recovery from alcoholism or drug addiction. Yet, there are practical ways that anyone can use to stay sober and enjoy Independence Day to the fullest.

“Large family gatherings or celebrations can place pressure on people to use alcohol or other drugs. This is not done intentionally; it’s the environment and the festivities,” said Marcel Gemme of Addicted.org.

Consider some of the following tips to maintain sobriety this July Fourth weekend:

Know and identify relapse triggers. This could be people, places, environments, or particular situations. If you recognize these, you are more apt to avoid or manage them. It’s also recommended to have a healthy outlet for any negative emotions or feelings that may arise. This helps reduce the risk of relapse.

Bring sober friends to holiday parties. It never hurts to have some support. Generally, most people are not drinking their faces off, and countless people choose sobriety. Consider bringing non-alcoholic drinks or mocktails. It can help avoid those pesky relatives who insist you have a drink in your hand and do not take no for an answer.

Actively avoid drinking games and environments that promote binge drinking. Have an exit strategy if things become too much to manage. Set yourself up in a way where if you have to leave, you can do so easily. It’s ok to leave parties and turn down invitations.

Independence Day is about celebrating freedom. Countless people have given themselves freedom from the chains of addiction. Take the opportunity to create new traditions and memories. Sobriety does not mean the end of fun or enjoying everything July Fourth offers.

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.

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