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How to Celebrate Sober

We always want to do something fun to mark a special occasion–birthdays, anniversaries, milestones, holidays, etc. Special occasions are, well, special, and the normal rules don’t apply. Normally, you might not spend 200 dollars on dinner, but if it’s your 10-year wedding anniversary, maybe it’s ok. It seems a shame to let a special occasion pass without indulging a bit. You have probably seen someone falling down drunk in a bar and maybe you were annoyed until his friend said, “Sorry, he’s not usually like this; it’s his birthday.”

If you are in recovery, special occasions may present a challenge. Like the 200-dollar anniversary dinner, they seem to be an exception to the normal rules. Plenty of people have reasoned along the lines of, “Well, I know I shouldn’t drink, but it’s my wedding,” or “it’s my best friend’s wedding,” or “that guy my cousin used to play rugby with is having his bachelor’s party at the bar next door,” etc. Some people are even tempted to celebrate sobriety by drinking. The addicted brain is always looking for an excuse to relapse. As hard as it is, you can’t let special occasions be an exception. Fortunately, there are other ways to celebrate.

Good food.

A nice dinner with friends or loved ones is a perfect way to celebrate. Just be sure to stick with water and ask about any food that might be prepared with alcohol.


Let’s face it, alcohol was always a lazy way to have fun. It basically handicaps your brain so boring things appear interesting. Why not just do interesting things? Try paintball or go bowling. None of your friends do those things? Even better, you can all laugh at each other.

Take a field trip.

Everywhere has something cool nearby that locals intend to visit but never do. Make the special occasion the day you finally go to the art museum for a tour and a late lunch, or when you finally go for a hike and picnic in the state park. It has never been easier to book a night at a bed and breakfast and most areas have something fun and unusual if you look around a bit. Be careful of longer trips early in recovery, as they might disrupt your routine and compromise your sense of accountability–the “what happens in Vegas” effect.

Amusement parks.

There are whole parks dedicated to your amusement, and there is probably one not far away. Even a slightly sad amusement park is fun with the right people, or maybe you can take a special trip to Disney World or something. Don’t forget about fairs and carnivals. You can go to the Iowa State Fair and scratch your head in wonder at the butter Ronald Reagan.

If you look around, you will realize there is a lot more to do sober than drunk. Celebrations are mainly about being around the right people and giving yourself a chance to have fun. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, Gardens Wellness Center can help you detox and decide on a treatment strategy. Call us today at 844-828-1050 or email us at to learn more.