Memorial Day is a holiday to remember soldiers who gave their lives fighting for freedom.
It’s also recognized as the beginning of summer and is often celebrated with barbecues, beach parties, and family get-togethers.
Unfortunately, the celebration usually involves alcohol. It can be a challenge for someone who is trying to stay sober to participate in Memorial Day festivities. But just as you prevent relapse every day, there are steps you can take to avoid drinking on Memorial Day.
Staying Sober On Memorial Day
Before you head to a Memorial Day celebration, take a moment to get into the right mindset. Ask yourself if it’s the best place for you to go and if you’ll be able to resist temptation if alcohol is present.
If you do go, consider attending a support group meeting that day or the day before and getting in touch with your sponsor. Feed your soul through connection with loved ones and activities that you enjoy so you are not feeling down on Memorial Day.
When someone is hungry, angry, lonely, or tired (“HALT”), they are more vulnerable to relapse. Being prepared for a challenging day can help you enjoy yourself and refrain from drinking.
Preparation may include brushing up on relapse prevention skills and reminding yourself what happens when you drink.
Excessive alcohol consumption often leads to risky behavior. People who are addicted to alcohol—including most people in recovery—lose control and cannot limit how much they drink.
For a person who struggles with alcohol abuse and addiction, the consequences of drinking are more serious than a hangover the following day. Shame, a feeling of failure, and a resurfacing of addiction are much worse and longer-lasting.
If you have health problems related to alcohol, starting to drink again may aggravate these issues. One drink could knock you off the path to recovery.
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If you’re going to a Memorial Day celebration where alcohol will be present, it makes sense to:
- surround yourself with people who support your recovery
- be honest with your loved ones if you’re concerned about staying sober
- have an “exit strategy”—drive yourself or go with someone who will leave with you
If you find that a gathering is too difficult for you, don’t be ashamed to leave. Remember that the consequences of drinking are far worse than the awkwardness of leaving early. The people who matter will understand and support your decision.
Remembering Those Who Served On Memorial Day
While barbeques and beach parties are popular ways to celebrate Memorial Day, they are not the only ways. These types of celebrations actually shift the focus from the true purpose of this holiday.
Instead of taking part in celebrations involving alcohol, you can make your own tradition. This might mean hosting a sober party or taking part in activities that honor fallen soldiers and veterans.
To remember those who served on Memorial Day, you can:
- volunteer at a veterans organization
- visit your local history or military museum
- spend time with a loved one who served in the military
- find a way to serve veterans in need and thank them for their service
- watch a historical war film in remembrance
- take a moment of silence to honor the fallen
Many places have Memorial Day weekend runs that raise money for charities or military members and their families. Participants may wear patriotic colors to honor soldiers who gave their lives for their country.
Not only is a Memorial Day run a way to show your support, but it’s also a healthy alternative to standing around drinking alcohol. Exercise is an excellent way to boost a person’s mood and energy levels with no negative consequences.
You know your limitations better than anyone. If you are confident that you can avoid drinking at a Memorial Day party, enjoy it. But if you want to focus on honoring those who served and stay away from alcohol, there are plenty of options for making a sober Memorial Day special.