Too often people in early recovery think they can get by with a few beers on holidays like the 4th of July. There’s so much cultural pressure to drink on these holidays that many succumb to the pressure. There’s no holiday from addiction. In early recovery there should be a plan to deal with holidays which are characterized by lots of alcohol.
Even family members and friends who don’t have a good understanding of addiction will encourage the idea that a few beers once or twice a year won’t hurt. What happens is that once the recovering alcoholic starts drinking it triggers the brain and sets off active-addiction thoughts and behaviors. The alcoholic will begin thinking that if she can control it a couple of times a year, then she’ll be able to control it at birthdays, Friday nights after a long week at work, then Tuesday, then Saturday, then…on and on.
Neural pathways in the alcoholic brain are rewired during addiction to alcohol, and it takes a long time to rewire the brain to neural pathways in recovery, but as soon as alcohol is introduced, the old, weakened neural pathways of active addiction begin to strengthen once again and become dominate.
It takes consistency, abstinence, and time to recover from alcoholism. When the recovering alcoholic begins drinking a few beers or shots of liquor here and there, they’re slipping back to full blown addiction. The recovering alcoholic has to understand that there’s no holiday from addiction — they have to take responsibility to guard their recovery — no one will do it for them. It’s not the responsibility of others to understand. Friends and family members might encourage the recovering alcoholic to drink a few beers on special occasions, but it’s out of ignorance, and they aren’t the ones who’ll suffer the worst consequences. The recovering alcoholic has to take responsible for recovery, where they go, what they do and what they drink.
The recovering alcoholic can receive support, though, and this is where Alcoholics Anonymous and other support groups come into play. While family and friends might not understand, a person in recovery will understand that there’s no holiday from addiction. The recovering alcoholic also understands through time in recovery that holidays are more enjoyable sober and clear-headed than drunk and addled.