Aside from being our National Birthday, the day on which we set standards for ourselves that continue to challenge us to this day, it is the Summer Holiday. We celebrate with parades, barbecues and fireworks. For people in active addiction, with the exception of the presence of flammable material and explosives, it's pretty much business as usual. For people in Recovery, however, it presents some challenges. As always, on holidays, the everyday rules are suspended and permissions are granted. There 's nothing wrong with that, except that for some in early recovery it presents some unique situations.
Let me break it down:
- Your Recovery is your own responsibility. Don't assume that anyone understands addiction, especially a bunch of people involved in their own festivities. If it's hard for you to refuse an offer of a drink or a drug, maybe you would do better to go to a meeting than a barbecue.
- Watch the temptation to tell war stories. I'm not talking Valley Forge, here, I am talking about glorifying binges and other addiction related behaviors. Euphoric Recall is dangerous for recovering people, because it allows the mind to do essentially the same thing that drugs do. Pain is dulled and pleasure is enhanced. The funny story is only funny when divorced from the painful realities surrounding it. The wild, drunken beer run isn't quite so funny once you acknowledge the kids in the back seat. So keep it real.
- Remember the support available to you. All those numbers in your cell phone? No, not the guy with the Oxycontin connection--you were supposed to get rid of that! The numbers that you got from all those great people at the 12 Step meetings? Now's the time to use them. Phone Therapy has been one of those mainstays of the 12 Step programs from the beginning. A phone call has made the difference between disaster and relief more times than anyone can count. If you think, should I call? Call.
- Plan B. You know what that means, right? Plan B is what you use when Plan A doesn't work. It's the strategic retreat. It's making sure that you have an open back door and a ride in case the situation turns out to be a lot more difficult than you expected. Remember that a strategic retreat has won many a war. If the going gets tough, the tough get going, right? Plan B is the way you get going alright--right out the door!
That's the short list. Talk to other clean and sober people and you will have 10 ideas for every one presented here. Independence is the freedom to choose. It's self-determination.
Let this be your Independence Day.