The 4th of July is a time for celebration, fireworks, and food. But for some, celebrating our nation’s independence has become synonymous with heavy partying, drinking, and drugs. Read the news on the day after this holiday, and you will understand why 4th of July has become recognized as one of the most dangerous and, sadly, the most deadly holidays.
For the many who commemorate 4th of July with drug and/or alcohol use, there is often a “drug of choice.” And while alcohol tends to be the most popular, and thus, the most talked about choice, there are many other substances that people reach for. Heroin is among the most dangerous, and unfortunately, the one people are least aware of.
With the rise of prescription pill addictions in this country, it is no surprise that the prices for these drugs are spiking. Because of this, it is becoming increasingly difficult for people to finance their addictions. Yet, for those with a proclivity towards opioids (such as Oxycontin), there is a cheaper option that many are turning to – heroin. In fact, Oxycontin has been labeled as the “gateway drug” to heroin, as an increasing number of people are turning to this significantly less expensive option.
While Oxycontin and other opioids are by no means safe, heroin is even more dangerous, due to the lack of regulation and quality control. This means, when it comes to heroin, there is no safe batch or safe amount for someone to put in his or her body. The best way to stay safe is to be alert, oriented, and aware, which means staying sober, this holiday.
Although 4th of July is often characterized as a “party holiday”, there are those who choose to steer clear of drugs and alcohol. If you are one of those individuals, there are certain things you can do to guarantee you have a safe (and fun!) holiday:
• Choose the party carefully – just like with any other holiday, some 4th of July parties’ center around alcohol and drug use, while others are more focused on family time and great food. If you struggle with any sort of substance use, it is wise to put your safety and sobriety first, and choose to participate in the celebrations that will help support these things.
• Bring a supportive and sober friend – everyone benefits from having a supportive friend around, especially if you are newly sober or just starting to move away from substance use. Bringing a friend (who is aware of your goal to stay away from alcohol and/or drug use) is like having a safety net with you.
• Bring your own beverages – 4th of July barbeques often involve alcohol (amongst other substances), but that does not mean you can’t still enjoy the food, festivities, and fireworks. If you want to attend the festivities, come prepared, by bringing your own non-alcoholic beverages. Not only does this help ensure your thirst will be quenched, but it also helps let your host know you will not be partaking in the consumption of alcohol.
• Don’t avoid the holiday –people who are new to the sober scene often tend to shy away from engaging socially during festive times and holiday celebrations. Unfortunately, staying home alone can lead to isolation, loneliness, and ultimately depression. Instead, choosing to surround yourself with positive, supportive individuals during these times can prove extremely beneficial in allowing you to see that fun celebrations do not always go hand in hand with alcohol and drugs.
Regardless of the measures you take to help ensure a safe holiday, there is always the possibility of encountering individuals who have not taken the same precautions. Because of this, it is helpful to know what to look out for (and who to contact) should you need to help someone who has been using drugs and/or alcohol. Some common signs of an overdose when it comes to drugs or alcohol are:
• Loss of coordination
• Slow (or irregular) breathing
• Blue tinged lips/skin
• Low body temperature
Coming in contact with someone suffering from the above-mentioned symptoms can be very scary, and it is best to immediately call 911.
If you or someone you know is struggling with a substance abuse addiction, contact Orange County Hope at xxx-xxx-xxxx to learn about treatment options.
Stay safe and have fun this 4th of July!