The Fourth of July is a great day to celebrate our freedom and our high-quality of life. We get to have fun with friends and family, eat great food, and enjoy colorful fireworks. We have so much to be thankful for. But for people in recovery, the Fourth of July is also a tough time because it’s often hard to reconcile a celebratory holiday with sober living, especially if you don’t have a plan of action.

Recovery is never easy. As you put serious effort into living a more healthy, happy, and productive life, not falling into old habits during big holiday celebrations is a daunting task. It won’t be easy, but you can have fun and make healthy choices this Independence Day.

There’s no need to hide yourself away and miss one of the best days of the summer: you just need to have a plan.

Making a Fourth of July Plan

You have plenty of options for fun, sober activities this Fourth of July. As long as you have fun and make good choices, with your recovery firmly in mind, it doesn’t matter how you spend your day. You just need to make a plan and stick to it.

As you plan your day, be active when it comes to avoiding settings that might guide you back into old habits. Don’t put yourself in a situation you know you’ll regret later.

It’s best to attend sober activities on Independence Day, but your friends and family might be attending a barbecue or party where alcohol is present. You want to see your friends and family, but you don’t want to compromise all the progress you’ve made in your recovery, either. So,

Plan to:

-Not drink. It’s as simple as that. Make it the biggest part of your plan.
-Bring along someone else who’s in recovery or a sober friend for support.
-Bring your own vehicle to the event so you can leave whenever you need to. If temptation gets too strong, it’s best to exit the situation.

If you don’t own a vehicle, know that getting a cab is tougher than usual on the Fourth of July. If possible, book a cab in advance before you go to a potentially stressful event.

Plan out a few sober events that sound fun, and bring friends and family along for the ride. Also, give yourself just a little downtime. You’ll need a few moments to relax, reflect, and decompress. Don’t push yourself too hard.

Once you’re finished planning, make a small backup plan. You might be excited for an event, but find out it’s not a good fit for your sober lifestyle once you get there. That’s okay, especially if you have a backup plan.

Plan as much or as little as you need to have a fun, stress-free time. Just have a plan.

Sober Independence Day Activities

Thankfully, you have a lot of fun options for a great Fourth of July in the Albuquerque area this year.

-Parades – During the morning and early afternoon, there are several parades in the area. These parades are great family activities, and there’s usually little danger of alcohol being involved. There are three different parades to go see locally. There is one in Los Lunas at 9am, one in Rio Rancho at 10am, and one in Corrales at 10am. Spend this time with support buddies and sober friends and family– it should be easy for most people in your life to avoid alcohol in the morning, so this should be both an exciting and stress-free activity to share with the important people in your life.

-Celebrate Freedom 2015 – This Fourth of July family event, hosted by Copper Pointe Church and Celebrate Recovery, takes place from 3pm-9:30pm at the Albuquerque Balloon Museum. This is a completely sober event. Tickets include entrance to the museum, dinner, and VIP seating for the fireworks show. For more information about tickets, click here.

-Car Show – There’s also a car show at Balloon Fiesta Park. Car shows are usually leisurely activities you can take in at your own pace.

-Baseball Game – This Independence Day, you’ll have the opportunity to see the Albuquerque Isotopes take on the Las Vega 51s. Bring along friends and family who will stay sober and respect your decision to not drink. Enjoy the sunshine, a hot dog, some ice cream in a baseball hat, and America’s pastime.

-Fireworks – Buy some legal fireworks to set off with your friends, family, and support group. If you’re going to a large fireworks display where alcohol is present, bring your own drinks and snacks. As always, bring your own vehicle (or plan on enjoying a nice walk home) just in case.

If you can’t find a sober living activity you like, you can always make your own fun. Celebrate Independence Day with new traditions instead of falling back on old traditions that may inhibit your recovery process.

Find a pool to relax by, read a book or a magazine inside an air conditioned home, or get some sober friends together and and watch a movie or two. Independence Day, Top Gun, and Big Trouble in Little China are all crowd pleasers that work perfectly on the Fourth of July.

Reach Out for Help

If the upcoming holiday is making you especially anxious, you should address those feelings instead of ignoring them. Attending a recovery meeting during the day is a great way to refocus and ease your stress. If you need to, spend a few moments with your sponsor.

If you need a little more guidance to make healthy choices this Fourth of July, you can also check out our blog post about sober living in the summer months. We know you can stay sober this Independence Day, and we’re here to help as much as we can along the way.

As your Fourth of July winds down, you’ll feel great. With a solid plan and supportive people by your side, you’ll blow right past triggers, temptations, and old habits. As you emerge on the other side of Independence Day, you’ll feel great about your choices and remember this Fourth of July as the best one yet.

And, if you feel like you need a little more help, download our “Ultimate Sober Living Checklist” for more ideas and tips for staying sober this 4th of July.

~Paul Tucker