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While for some, Fourth of July celebrations can be a time of excitement, excess, and fun, for others it’s a trigger for an underlying mental health issue. With eating and drinking being the focus at the majority of these parties, those who are susceptible to addictive behaviors may find it difficult to take part without consequence. If you find that the pressure to eat or drink excessively has left you feeling out of control, consider the following five tips:

  1. Open up to Family or Friends: If you feel comfortable doing so, let your friends and family know ahead of time what you’re going through. Opening up about substance use or disordered eating problems can help prevent a lot of awkward and unnecessary interactions, and it can make it easier for you to stay true to your path of recovery.
  2. Make a Plan, and a Back-up Plan: Structure is important when you’re recovering from an addiction. The unknown can present unforeseen obstacles so make sure you have enough information about the celebration to know what you’re walking into, or who. If you know that the hotdogs and hamburgers offered will quite possibly be a trigger, stick to your own routine. Eat a meal you’re comfortable with beforehand and bring a cooler with some snacks that will keep you energized throughout the night. If you’re worried about people offering you a drink, have a cup with you filled with water, soda, or another beverage so you can easily deflect and let them know you’re already all set.
  3. Focus on Celebrating What Really Matters: Too often we follow a pattern of behavior without much thought. Why do we celebrate the independence of our country by guzzling beer and grilling food? Focus on your sobriety or your recovery. Those things are truly worth celebrating and if you’re not in the mood for a party, have your family take a hike or spend the day swimming at the beach. There’s no one way to celebrate, and creating your own healthy traditions may make this your best 4th of July yet.
  4. Have a Set Time that You’ll Leave: Most celebrations get more out of hand the longer they run, so enjoy your time but set a reasonable time for departure. It’ll also help you to avoid traffic and the traffic accidents which are a common occurrence on this holiday weekend.
  5. Be Selfish: Sometimes, being selfish is critical. And if it involves your health and your continued recovery, make the choices that you need to support them. If it means not going at all, or just dropping by to say hello, know that you are the most important thing. Your friends and family will still enjoy their night, no matter how bad the guilt trip is that they gave you.

During this holiday, remember that your decisions have an impact on your quality of life. Opt to continue making decisions that benefit your health and those that love you most.