Labor Day weekend is upon us! For many people, this weekend signifies cookouts, long days at the beach and time off work. Alcohol goes hand-in-hand with these holiday weekends, which can be worrisome for recovering alcoholics. People who recently completed drug rehab are still vulnerable to relapse and can be easily tempted to drink if alcohol is around them.
Gratefully, there are simple steps you can take to avoid uncomfortable situations and protect your recovery this Labor Day.
Pick Your Activities Wisely
Everyone with a substance abuse problem has triggers that can put them at risk for using again. In early recovery, you are taught to avoid these triggers until you are stronger. But now is not the time to throw yourself into potentially dangerous or uncomfortable situations.
The best thing you can do right now is plan your activities wisely. Steer clear of places and events where alcohol will be. Surround yourself with people you can trust to stay sober and engage in healthy activities. If you feel that your family and friends will be indulging over the weekend, connect with members from your treatment center or attend a sober event near you.
Plan an Out-of-Town Getaway
If you are used to partying over Labor Day weekend and feel that there are too many triggers around you, it may be best to get out of town for a few days. Gather a few sober friends or family members and plan a road trip or camping trip. You can even spend a few days in a nearby city touring the local museums and hot spots or just having a few nice dinners.
Getting away from your current environment is not just a way to avoid your triggers, but also it gives you the opportunity to reset and recharge. Being in a new location can help you see things from a new perspective, which makes your problems seem smaller and less important. While any activities can be motivating, those tied to nature are especially refreshing.
Host Your Own Labor Day Party
Perhaps you want to celebrate Labor Day the traditional way – with a cookout, cold beverages, yard games, music and fireworks. There’s nothing wrong with that! In fact, why not host your own Labor Day party? This way, you can control the guest list, the food you serve and the music you listen to.
Invite members from your 12-step groups as well as friends, family, neighbors and coworkers who are supportive to your recovery. Preparing and setting up for the party will distract you from the festivities going on and give you something to look forward to. Plus, it’s a nice way to say thanks to all the people who have supported you going to drug rehab.
Take Things Virtual
There’s a first for everything. This may be your first Labor Day sober, but it’s also your first with COVID-19. Everyone is dealing with different limitations, so you’ll have to keep your county’s social distancing rules in mind. They may prevent you from having a large gathering at your home.
Here in California, the departments of public health are urging people to stay home, avoid crowds and keep a 6-foot distance from others when possible. If you need to shelter in place, consider a virtual get-together instead. Share mocktails over Zoom, play a virtual game, etc. Seeing people and keeping these social connections alive can make all the difference in your attitude. And there’s less pressure to drink!
Prioritize Your Recovery
You made the best decision to recognize your alcohol problem and quit drinking, so don’t question your choices just because you can’t partake in this weekend’s partying. It’s natural to feel some disappointment and resentment, but keep your priorities straight.
Labor Day will come and go, just as all the other holidays do. You are working toward building a better life that you can enjoy every day for the rest of your life. The stuff that you feel like you’re giving up will be worth it. Trust in yourself and your recovery.
If You Do Go Out…Bring Your Own Drinks and Have an Exit Strategy
Maybe it’s been some time between now and when you first sought drug rehab, and you are ready to attend a social gathering. Eventually, you have to go outside your comfort zone and try new things. As long as you have a good foothold on your recovery and have been sober for some time (we generally recommend at least 1 year), you can start attending more events.
Of course, continue choosing your events wisely, as there’s a difference between attending a low-key family gathering and a kegger with your college buddies. Bring your own drinks if you can, or ask for water or soda when you arrive. Having a non-alcoholic drink in your hand takes some of the pressure off. You can also use firm, direct statements like, “No, I’m not drinking today” or “I’m the DD today.”
It’s also important to have an exit strategy in case you start feeling uncomfortable. Sometimes social situations take the wrong turn and you need to leave. Or it’s possible that you’re just not feeling the vibes you had hoped for. Whatever the reason, listen to your gut and leave the party. You can leave with the sober friend you brought along or call one of your trusted contacts.
Seek Additional Help from a Drug Rehab
With just a bit of planning and clear communication, you can have a fun and sober Labor Day weekend. As you go through more holidays like this, it will get easier. You’ll find that there are plenty of fun things you can do to celebrate the summer without getting wasted.
The best part is, you’ll remember everything that happens and you won’t have to be embarrassed about the things you did and said. Hangovers are also a thing of the past! You can wake up the next day feeling great and being able to do something fun. Imagine all the hours wasted from previous hangovers, headaches, throwing up, etc. This is no longer your life.
Remember, if you ever need additional support to supplement your recovery, contact Awakenings Treatment Center. Our drug rehab program in beautiful Agoura Hills, California offers a wide range of programs and therapies that can benefit people in all stages of recovery. With the Awakenings community, you never have to feel alone!