A Guide To A Sober 4th of July

Home | A Guide To A Sober 4th of July

America’s Independence Day can be a joyous time for many and a cause for celebration. Typically, beers and barbeque characterize the holiday festivities–but here at St. Gregory, we’re committed to relapse prevention for all of our clients and community members 24/7 and during every holiday. We’re thrilled to say that there are plenty of ways to enjoy the holiday to its fullest without substances. Here are four main facets of relapse prevention you can adopt this 4th of July:

  • Recognize the early signs of an impending relapse (sustained feelings of stress or changes in mood and health)
  • Recognize that you advance through sobriety in stages, and you may not be ready to celebrate the 4th with others this year  
  • Rely on and attending regular cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) sessions, and use meditation and mindfulness techniques to manage temptation and stressors
  • Acknowledge that you are responsible for being honest, seeking help, caring for yourself, and upholding boundaries in recovery

Below, we offer some ideas about how to support your recovery while having your best Independence Day yet!

Seek Support From Your St. Gregory Alumni Community

St. Gregory Recovery is proud to offer our alumni a variety of ways to access recovery support after treatment ends. Every Sunday and Wednesday evening, we host Self Management and Recovery Training, also known as SMART recovery meetings

SMART meetings focus on your personal ability to foster and grow your motivation to thrive in sobriety, handle cravings and triggers, cope with uncomfortable thoughts, emotions, or poor behaviors, and maintain balance in your life. 

This year, July 4th falls on a Thursday, which means you can hop on Zoom and tune into a SMART meeting the day before to receive a little pep talk, clarity, and non-judgemental support from people who understand what you’re going through. Our gatherings are purely supportive and resemble 12-step programs without a spiritual or religious component. 

If video calls aren’t your thing, and if you’re an alum of St. Gregory, you can download and create an account with the CaredFor app, an easy way to connect digitally with our recovery program alumni for support, advice, and socialization with people who know exactly what it’s like to be where you are. 

Plan For Sober Activities

Think about the last 4th of July festivities that you attended while using substances. What do you remember about the day? How did you feel the next day? Chances are that your memory of the event is spotty and that you didn’t feel good about yourself or find it easy to connect with the people you love.

But if you’re worried that the 4th will be boring without substances, take a look at these sober activities near both Des Moines and Bayard that can unleash hours of fun for you, your friends, and your family:

  • Plenty of Iowans enjoy Adventure Land, which is just a quick 20-minute drive from Des Moines to Altoona, IA, and home to Earth’s one and only indoor wooden roller coaster. If that experience doesn’t add some flair to the holiday, the fair food options and Oink’s restaurant certainly will. This summer all-season passes are going for under $100. 
  • Sometimes it’s best to keep things simple and kick it at home, projecting the best feel-good patriotic films on a makeshift screen outdoors. Think Mel Gibson in The Patriot or Glory with Matthew Broderick with fireflies and the smell of barbecue in the background. 
  • Don’t take it too seriously–but seriously consider hosting your first annual hot-dog eating contest. Get creative as you fire up the grill! Dress up the hot dogs as intricately as you like, creating categories and varying levels of difficulty for contestants. Some people can scarf down a plain hotdog with ketchup,but can they eat 3 chili cheese dogs in under 5 minutes? 
  • Bake your blues away with red, white, and blue baked goods. If you’re interested in upping your dessert skills, check out different recipes for the perfect thematic cookies, cakes, pastries, smoothies, mocktails, or ice cream sandwiches for the occasion. 

Anticipate Temptation and Triggers 

This is the part of the holiday where we acknowledge that a little white lie never hurt anybody. It’s perfectly fine to throw out an excuse or a fib to secure a quiet exit from an unsuitable environment. Take the time to think about your schedule and any events that you’ve been invited to this 4th of July. 

  • Is it too hectic to commit to everything? 
  • Will there be alcohol or substances at these events? 
  • Will there be emotional triggers that may send you into a spiral? 

If you can see it coming, prepare. Have a sober friend call you to feign an emergency. Alternatively, bring a friend who can act as a chaperone for you. Most importantly, if you know the potential threats to your sobriety outweigh the benefits of attending a specific event…skip the event. 

Seek Support For Substance Abuse This Summer in Iowa

Feel confident in yourself–you’ve made it this far. The summer season is about uplifting your mood, getting more sunlight, and enjoying sobriety to your fullest potential. Contact us at our Bayard and Des Moines locations for support this July! 

Our graduates tell their stories…

When first arriving at St. Gregory I had mixed feelings about the health and wellness workouts. I came in at 136 lbs and didn’t think it was possible to reach...
- Chris
The good life is not merely a life free from addictions, physical and/or psychological—addictions that usually are the outward manifestations of deeper problems—but a life lived in harmonious balance, free...
- Matt
I came to St. Gregory’s at my all-time worst—physically, emotionally, and mentally. Having gone through a bad rehab experience once before, I had been very reluctant in succumbing to that...
- CJ
No matter where I start my thought process when reflecting upon my time before, during and after St. Gregory’s, I always seem to end up in the same place in...
- Kaele


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