For recovering addicts, the holidays pose their own set of challenges. Parties with alcohol, gatherings with critical family members, and bank accounts with small balances put sobriety at risk by triggering a relapse. If you are trying to navigate the holidays and avoid a relapse, our guide will help.
Acknowledge Your Condition
The worst thing a recovering addict can do during the holidays is pause his/her recovery or ignore his condition. No matter what time of year it is, you need to acknowledge the facts that you are in recovery and that the holidays can tempt you to return to your life of addiction. Recognizing potential triggers and avoiding them at all costs is a must, even if it means skipping some celebrations or disappointing friends or family members who invite you to parties that you know will put your sobriety at risk.
It’s also helpful to go one step further and communicate with friends and family members about the risks the holidays pose to your sobriety. If everyone acknowledges your condition, it will be easier for you to avoid situations that could lead to a relapse. Invite old friends to your parents’ house if you go home for the holidays instead of meeting at a bar; of course, don’t invite anyone that shared your life of addiction.
Don’t Use the Holidays as an Excuse
Even though society often portrays the holidays as a time to drink and overindulge, you don’t need to drink in order to enjoy this time of year. While it may be tempting to use the holidays as an excuse to drink socially in an attempt to put your sobriety on pause, you will find yourself falling back into your old habits if you allow yourself to take a few sips over the holidays.
In an effort to stave off the depression and isolation that some recovering addicts face while steering clear of parties with alcohol, ask your friends and family to spend time doing activities other than drinking. Go skiing, catch a movie, plan a night of board games, or host an alcohol-free party and have a contest to see who can make the best mocktail.
Take a Sober Date
If you can’t skip a work party or have been sober long enough that you feel secure attending a party that will include alcohol, take a sober date with you. Choose someone that you trust to support you and leave alcohol alone while you’re together. You and your sober date could also volunteer to be designated drivers, as an added incentive to stay sober and resist temptation. Having a purpose for your sobriety beyond your hard work never hurts during the holiday season.
Create and Follow a Healthy Schedule
While creating and following a healthy schedule may be easier said than done, you should do so to avoid as much holiday stress as possible to leave your sobriety intact in the new year. If you haven’t already done so, create a schedule that you can stick to during the holidays that includes eating healthy, attending meetings or therapy, exercising, and getting enough rest. Continuing to follow a schedule even during the chaos of holiday travel and entertaining will keep structure in your life and aid you in avoiding holiday stress and temptation. You’ll also have a better chance of navigating family conflicts and potential triggers if you’re well-rested and taking good care of yourself.
Only a recovering addict knows how difficult maintaining sobriety is. Remaining motivated is even more difficult during the holidays when it feels like everyone around you is partying and celebrating. Work with your sponsor, therapist, or close family member or friend to develop daily or short-term goals that will help you stay sober. Maybe you want to increase your exercise time, reconnect with an old friend, or read the pile of books that you’ve been staring at on your nightstand for the past year. Staying sober will help you accomplish those goals and help you stay focused throughout the holiday season.
Maintaining your sobriety during the holidays will not be easy, but it will be worth it. If you follow this guide and take a proactive approach to avoiding relapse, you will have a happy and clean holiday.