The holidays! For many people the holidays are a truly wonderful and exciting time to spend with family and friends. For many people, especially for those struggling with alcoholism and addictions, or who have a loved one who is, this time can be an extremely stressful, difficult, and lonely time of year.
Whether your sobriety is just beginning or whether your sobriety is ongoing, holiday time is difficult! Fear, expectations, social obligations run rampant. Oh, the holidays! You are not alone, and there are many strategies to stay sober over the holidays, but to enjoy the festivities as well!
Challenges to a Sober Holiday Season
- Financial insecurities: The
holidays can be difficult financially for those in early recovery. Believing that you need to buy presents, and stretching yourself financially can lead to a “f-it” moment when the pressure causes you to relapse.
- Peer & Social
Pressure:Work, Family, and Friends have holiday parties galore, and the drinks are pouring! If you are not yet comfortable in saying no, these parties/celebrations pose a high risk for those in recovery.
- I’ll Quit in the New
Year:This attitude may work, but most likely will continue your drinking and drugging until who knows when!
- Loneliness: The addicted mind
wants you to feel miserable and alone, and to shut it up the mindset is that drugs and alcohol is a solution.
Give Yourself the Gift of Sobriety
There are a number of things that people in recovery can do to protect them against that first drink or drug. Sobriety should always be priority for those in recovery. If you place, for example, relationships, money, your job above it, these are normally the first to go when the addicted mind isn’t taken care of first and foremost!
- Remember the best gift you can give this holiday season, and in life – to your loved-ones and everyone else is you staying sober! You are worth it, and sobriety is achievable!
- I urge those in recovery who have a difficult time over the holidays to double up on meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, etc. They all run over major holidays, and are safe places always for those needing
- Do not isolate! You do not need to attend every party you’ve been invited to, but I challenge you to get out and be social. This can include talking to your fellows in recovery either by grabbing a coffee, meal, or simply a phone conversation.
- “No” is an okay word to say. People-pleasing and trying to stretch yourself to tackle everything and everyone over the holiday season will leave you exhausted and at risk of a slip. Journal, and plan accordingly to tackle the days and evenings over the holiday season.
- If you decided to attend a holiday party, you are not required to stay the whole evening! Feel free to leave at whatever time you decide. Intuitively, we know when our time is up!
- If friends, family members, and colleagues do not know you are in recovery, and you want it to stay that way make sure you have a non-alcoholic glass of soda, water, etc. in hand As long as you have a glass in hand they will know no difference!
- Make sure you have time to recover during the day from all the excitement and heightened stimuli! Having alone time to watch TV, a movie, read a book, or whatever you want is a must, and this practice is okay!
- Hit the pavement and volunteer! Try getting outside of yourself, and give back to those who are in need. There are many soup kitchens, food drives, and other volunteer opportunities available in your community.
- Journaling, listening to podcasts, scheduling times to hang out with friends and family are all other suggestions to do over the holidays
I understand, the holidays are extremely tough! BUT, it is possible to stay clean and sober during the winter break, and you can actually have a fantastic time doing so! Sobriety is hard, but it is the easier softer way for those struggling with alcoholism and addictions. On the other side of the abstinence coin – sobriety can be fun and it opens up a whole new world of challenges, excitement, and freedom!
You are not alone in what you are thinking, feeling, and doing. You are worth it, and you can do it! I hope you can believe it too! There is no shame for asking for help; there are a lot of good and kind people out there who are willing to help!