For many, the Fourth of July is a joyous occasion filled with friends, family and fireworks. But for those in recovery, the holiday can cause a great deal of anxiety and frustration. Before your recovery, drinking or using drugs may have been a big part of how you celebrated America’s birthday. You may be wondering how you should spend your day now that you’re in recovery.

When you aren’t using drugs or alcohol, the holidays can be a particularly tempting time to turn back to old habits. But that doesn’t mean that a relapse is unavoidable, or that you’re alone in your struggle. At The Recovery Village, we see sobriety as an opportunity to redefine and renew your life: that includes changing the way you celebrate. By forging fun, substance-free traditions, you can stay on track to your goals while still kicking back, relaxing and enjoying yourself — and your sobriety.

To set you up for star-spangled success, here are four ways you can have fun and stay sober on the Fourth of July:

1. Spend time with close friends and family who support your sobriety.

Staying sober during any holiday can be difficult, but it’s always easier around people who know your priorities and have your best interests at heart. Instead of heading to a casual acquaintance’s party, keep company with friends or family members who respect your sobriety. This way, you don’t have to worry about being pressured to drink, and you’re with people who can keep you accountable if you feel tempted.

2. Celebrate!

Countless people across the country spend their Fourth of July’s enjoying all things red, white and blue in perfectly wholesome ways. Why not you, too? Dress in patriotic clothing. Make colorful confections. Throw some hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill. If freedom-themed festivities aren’t your style, do something entirely unrelated to the holiday. Start a new tradition of going to the movies or playing a few games at a nearby bowling alley — it’s up to you! The important thing is that whatever you do, you have fun doing it.

3. Remember why you’re in recovery.

Watching friends and family members enjoy alcohol at Fourth of July functions can make you feel nostalgic for the time before you began your path to sobriety. But you decided to stop using substances for a reason. If you find yourself over-romanticizing your past, remembering what your addiction was really like can put things back into perspective and help you stay focused on your recovery. If you need to, go to a couple of extra AA or NA meetings ahead of time to make sure that your mind is in the right place. Take time to appreciate the benefits of your new lifestyle, and remember all of the progress you’ve made so far.  

4. Go to a community fireworks show.

There’s nothing like watching fireworks on the Fourth of July — especially fireworks you don’t have to set off (or pay for)! So grab some friends, a lawn chair and cooler and head over to a local fireworks display. If you don’t live in a community that has one, you’re probably a short drive away from another that does. Attending a fireworks show could be an opportunity to talk to new people, explore an area of town you’ve never seen or simply spend time with those you already hold close. These events are usually family friendly too, so you won’t have to worry about any added pressure to indulge in drinking or drug use.

Whether you’re just beginning your recovery process or you’ve been sober for years, holidays can be a tough time to stay strong and continue on the course to wellness. But sobriety isn’t a sentence to never have fun on holidays ever again — it’s an opportunity to carve out new traditions that help you stay happy and healthy. Think of this time as a celebration of the new life you’ve chosen to lead. A celebration of the United States’ independence, and your own freedom from a life of drug and alcohol use.

At The Recovery Village, we know how difficult holidays can be for those in recovery. That’s why our intake coordinators are available 365 days a year to reinforce your resolve, enroll you in a treatment program or just talk. We’re here for you. If you or someone you love is struggling, reach out today.

a man wearing a blue and white striped shirt.
By – Jonathan Strum
Jonathan Strum graduated from the University of Nebraska Omaha with a Bachelor's in Communication in 2017 and has been writing professionally ever since. Read more
Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.