What does “independence” mean to you? When it comes to the 4th of July, it’s a reason for all Americans to celebrate our unity and freedom as a nation. But for more than 23 million Americans, “independence” also means a celebration of freedom from drugs and alcohol.

When liberation meets libation, it creates a problematic experience for those who are making an effort to remain sober. The good news is, with a little preparation, you can join the celebration and/or host one that respects everyone’s independence.

1. Remember why you are in recovery

Seeing your friends and family indulging in alcohol may bring back memories from before your journey. Before you make plans, put your reasons for recovery back into perspective. Talk to a supportive person in your life, or attend an extra meeting to make sure you are focused on your new lifestyle when you get to the gathering.

2. Make plans with people who support your recovery

Staying sober is always easier around people who love and support you. Instead of celebrating with casual acquaintances, make plans with people who will minimize the  pressure to drink and prioritize your wellness.

3. Host your own alcohol-free gathering

Having trouble finding a celebration that feels supportive? Chances are, so are other people you know. Organize a gathering or outing that promises the support you need. Maybe it’ll even become a tradition!

4. Celebrate!

Your decision to live a sober lifestyle is not at the expense of enjoying life. In fact, you may find yourself making greater memories and stronger relationships as a result of sober celebration. Get in line for the grill and wear red, white and blue, because everything you can drink through you can do sober, too.

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