The Holiday season, you know that sometimes dicey span of time that begins with Thanksgiving (and for some as early as Halloween) then encompasses Christmas and finally grinds to a halt right around New Year’s Day, yeah that…that can be the most difficult time for recovering alcoholics and addicts. And may even be difficult for their families, too.
Here are some tips on how you can go about maintaining your sobriety through the holiday season.
Go late and leave early. I have found that no one notices – or cares – how long you are there. Have other plans or tell people you have other plans and that you can only stay for a certain length of time.
Get re-connected with that ‘gift of desperation.’ One thing I try to do during the holidays and at any other time I feel the stress is remember how it was. And if you are having a hard time remembering just how bad it was, make 12-step calls during the holiday season in order to help others as well to keep the memory of where that first drink or drug will lead you.
Know your limitations. I could only stay with family for one or two hours before feeling like I needed to leave. I made other plans with my sober friends to support me in maintaining sobriety. Friends and family often put on a lot of pressure on you during the holiday season, but you might also put a lot of pressure on yourself. You expect that you are supposed to be a lot of things to a lot of people. It is important to realize that you can’t possibly go to every holiday party or be able to get presents for everyone in your life.
Tell your sober supports what you’re up to. Make a plan to call someone every hour on the hour. As always, remember your relapse prevention plan. An important part of any relapse prevention plan is having a thorough and trusted list of people to call. It includes knowing what situations are going to be more difficult for you. So, if being around a certain family member tends to be a trigger, have a plan for that instance.
Bring a sober friend or friends to your holiday celebration for support and accountability.
Host your own holiday dinner. You can ensure that it is a “dry” party if you have your own. Invite only your sober friends and friends and family who understand what recovery is and who respect your sober lifestyle.
And some things to remember:
It’s not what’s in the glass that’s important, it’s what’s in your heart. I learned that no one cares if I’m drinking or not and furthermore, whatever I was drinking was not of interest to the others and rarely noticed by anyone.
Lastly, no one knows you as well as you do. Being self-aware is the ultimate relapse prevention. Stay vigilant about how you are feeling and be sure to avoid HALT – don’t get too hungry, angry, lonely or tired.
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse or addiction please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135