Every Independence Day, Americans across the country wear red, white and blue and throw backyard parties to commemorate the Declaration of Independence and birth of our nation. Parades, cookouts, fireworks, hot dogs, hamburgers, corn on the cob, watermelon, cherries, and bountiful amounts of beer are synonymous with this celebration. Americans spend in excess of 1.2 billion on all of this glorious food every July 4th, however, an additional 1.6 billion is spent on alcoholic beverages. All of this merriment sounds like a lot of fun, and should be if you celebrate safely. Unfortunately, statistics show drunk driving accidents on the nation\u2019s roads and waterways spike significantly during the July 4th holiday weekend. Moreover, backyard firework accidents cause thousands of injuries and some people lose their lives. Intoxication is often a factor in these accidents. Even if alcohol or drugs aren\u2019t involved, powerful explosives and sparklers that burn to 1,200-2,000 degrees Fahrenheit aren\u2019t toys. It\u2019s best to leave this aspect of the holiday to professionals and attend official firework displays in your local community. If you\u2019re struggling with alcohol or drug addiction, holidays can pose an incredible temptation. Do you really want to throw caution to the wind and abandon sobriety after putting in so much time and effort? If you have never battled addiction, an analogy between our Founding Fathers and addiction may seem odd. For those who have valiantly struggled with drug or alcohol abuse, you know how many days it feels like you\u2019re waging a war. Here is a new twist on the birth of our nation in context with addiction. A Few Facts and Stats The first shots of the Revolutionary War were fired at Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts on April 19, 1775. America did not win the Revolutionary War until September 3, 1783, when the Treaty of Paris ratified the independence of the 13 North American states. This occurred more than six years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. An estimated 25,000-70,000 American Patriots died during active military service. Of these, about 6,800 were killed in battle, while at least 17,000 died from disease. The resiliency, perseverance and commitment to political freedom exhibited by our forefathers was truly phenomenal. The first step in recovery is declaring you have a problem with alcohol or drug dependence. The war against addiction is a lifelong battle, making it far longer than the Revolutionary War. Some days are better than others and setbacks are normal. About 90% of people who struggle with alcohol dependence experience at least one relapse in the four years following treatment. Recent drug relapse statistics indicate two-thirds of people in recovery relapse within weeks to months of beginning addiction treatment. Every year, an estimated 88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes including drunk driving accidents and disease. Preliminary statistics indicate 59,000-62,000 people lost their lives to drug overdoses in 2016, a 19% increase from 2015 figures. While these figures seem bleak, professional alcohol and drug treatment programs have helped thousands of people beat the odds. Celebrate Safely and Sober Why not make a pledge in writing and declare your own independence from alcohol and drugs? Changing your mindset and making lifestyle adjustments can help you stay on the path of recovery after addiction treatment. Avoid holiday temptations and make this July 4th a celebration reflecting the common values shared by you and our Founding Fathers \u2013 perseverance, vigilance and braveness. Add sobriety to this list! Yes, it takes true commitment to overcome addiction, but the outcome is well worth it \u2013 let freedom ring!