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Staying sober this Independence Day

Michael Leach

Special to the Village News

The Fourth of July is a joyous occasion filled with family and friends, fireworks, and freedom. July 4 is also America's top beer-drinking holiday. It’s estimated that over $1 billion is spent on beer during the Fourth of July. In addition, over $450 million is spent on wine.

It can be a challenging time for someone in recovery. The holiday is associated with excessive drinking and celebrating. Yet, it is not impossible to stay sober. Anyone in recovery can still enjoy the holiday to the fullest.

“Many relapses occur because of peer pressure and environment. The individual believes they can have that one drink and be fine, but it leads to a potential downward spiral,” said Marcel Gemme of

Fortunately, there are practical approaches to help anyone stay sober during Independence Day; consider some of the following:

1. Avoid events that place you at risk. This is common sense. Some celebrations may go too far with alcohol consumption or drug use. If this is known, choose a less risky option, even if the celebration involves family and friends; it is ok to turn down invitations.

2. Travel with other sober people and bring non-alcoholic drinks. It makes it easier when there is another person there supporting sobriety. Also, bringing non-alcoholic beverages prevents those pesky guests from insisting you have a drink in your hand and who will not take no for an answer.

3. Have an exit plan. If things become too much to manage, ensure you have a way out. Whether it is a friend driving, you are driving, or rideshare, ensure there is a way to leave if you feel uncomfortable. Don’t worry about offending people or explaining yourself; use any excuse needed.

4. Identify relapse triggers and stay connected to sober people. It’s essential to manage the emotions that come with being around these situations again. Part of this involves knowing what triggers a relapse and avoiding the situation, people, or places. If it is unavoidable, lean on another sober person or ask for help. If you feel yourself slipping or getting too overwhelmed, reach out for help.

Whether you are beginning your recovery process or have been sober for a year, holidays can be tough. Never think of sobriety as being a sentence never to have fun. It is the complete opposite. Sobriety has given you a new life to enjoy and have fun. It is also an opportunity to carve out new traditions that help you stay happy and healthy.

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


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