The fourth of July is significant for alcoholics and addicts in several ways. The Declaration of Independence was a statement of separation from a tyrannical ruler. With separating from the past they embarked on a new way of life. Many people come into treatment just after the Fourth of July, after having had a "close call", a DUI, a wife who left, or after totally embarrassing or humiliating themselves in drunken or drugged stupor. Once someone identifies that his life has been controlled by something other than himself (the disease), he declares his independence by quitting drinking/drugging and embarks on a new way of life in recovery.

If this is the first sober Fourth of July, it can mark a vulnerability to relapse. There are several holidays that are strongly associated with drinking. The Fourth of July is one. Many, if not most alcoholics and addicts grow up in families of origin where drinking was a part of the family culture and holidays were a golden opportunity to drink. Regardless of whether it was outdoor barbeques, community firework events, boating on the lake, the beer coolers were out in full force.

Many people in recovery find themselves expected to attend family functions where the alcohol is still flowing freely. Those who are newly recovering should take extra care to not endanger their fragile sobriety in these family or other social circle events. The Fourth of July can be one's holiday of Independence. With planning ahead, recovery can be safeguarded by the pro-active decisions made.

Some suggestions for proactive decision making would involve identifying historical family or social patterns in Fourth of July events before the invitation is accepted. It is helpful to keep in mind that it is possible to say no to invitations that could endanger your recovery. It is also permissible to request that alcohol not be served. Many people feel too self-conscious to request that alcohol not be served, for fear of it being an imposition, or appearing inferior in the eyes of others. Such a request would only be viewed as a grave imposition if others in the social circle also have alcohol problems. It is very important to stay away from exposure to alcohol in early recovery.

This Fourth of July can be the beginning of a new life for the newly recovering alcoholic and family. New family traditions can start now. There are many different kinds of celebrations that you can do for the Fourth of July that do not involve alcohol. Consider some of these:

Going to an AA/NA sponsored event.

Have your picnic, cookout, fireworks with all kinds of other beverages, without alcohol.

Have a movie marathon in your living room.

Have a get together with recovering friends and family.

Do a fifth step in your 12 step program.

Go to a community celebration where there no alcohol is served or permitted.

Author's Bio: 

If you or someone that you love needs help for addiction, either as an addict or as a family member affected by addiction, help is available. My counseling services, as well as the educational information on my website are available to you. There are a number of articles on Dynamics of Addiction and Recovery, as well as other pertinent topics. The Recommended Readings page offers recommendations about books by other authors that are probably appropriate to your needs. Other resources are available on the Links page. An Ask Peggy column allows you to ask specific questions that you need answers to. My site is a work in progress with additional features, articles, and resources being added to it on a regular basis. The Services Provided page allows you to give me feedback on information needed. Please fill out the appropriate survey to let me know what particular types of educational materials or services that you would like to have more of. My surveys and my ebook (for purchase), "Understanding Cross Addiction to Prevent Relapse" are located at *

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Dr. Peggy L. Ferguson, Ph.D., LADC, LMFT, Marriage/Family Therapist and Alcohol/Drug Counselor, Author, Trainer, Consultant.