Well, it is the holiday season again. For most, holidays mean a time to connect, relax and partake of alcohol as a means to celebrate. However, for people living in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, staying sober during the holidays can sometimes feel challenging. Following a few simple practices can help you manage your sobriety successfully during the holidays and start the New Year even stronger in your recovery.
How to Stay Sober During the Holidays
1. Keep Your Recovery Routine
Stay on schedule as best you can. The holidays can throw our schedules into chaos. Be mindful to keep your 12-step meeting schedule, church if you attend, and self-care routine including meditations or workouts. Keeping these daily routines on track will help you remain focused on your recovery. Remember, recovery is the number one priority. Stay connected to your sponsor and recovery community, especially early in recovery. Remember, each layer of support only strengthens your stand against relapse.
2. Pass on Potential Triggering Events
Family gatherings, office parties, neighborhood celebrations, New Year’s Eve with friends – your first few go-rounds of staying sober during the holidays may require you to skip annual events that involve open bars or those with a heavy focus on alcohol consumption.
You are free to skip a year, or three, and focus on yourself, specifically on your health and well-being. The best way to manage triggers is to avoid them altogether, especially early in recovery. Keep building on your recovery foundation and reevaluate the party invites next year. You might even notice that these late night celebrations are pointless. You may also see that the celebrating the next morning with a hike is much more rewarding.
During the holidays, AA and NA have many gatherings that serve as safe and smart alternatives to alcohol-infused parties. They can also provide a more meaningful experience.
3. Have a Holiday Party Plan
If you do attend a party where drinks are served, prepare yourself for the event. Walk through potential party scenarios and how you will react. Plan your arrival and departure, who you will spend time with – and who you will not. Bring your own or select a festive nonalcoholic option and have an exit or even escape strategy if you start to feel anxious. Make sure you have your own transportation so that you can leave quickly if you feel uncomfortable. Call your sponsor before the party and walk through the plan. And, bring the address of the nearest AA meeting, just in case. Having a plan will help you stay focused on your desired outcome – staying sober during the holidays.
4. Communicate with Loved Ones
Share with your family and friends so they can help and support your recovery. In addition, be mindful during holiday planning. A supportive family can make the difference between recovery and relapse. Family members need to get involved in their own recovery from codependency. Then, you and your loved ones can work together as a team to recover together and avoid holiday relapse.
5. Lend a Helping Hand
Skip the party and head out to help others. Remember, we get sober to stop living selfishly and to start helping other. There are countless opportunities to serve your community during the holidays. Homeless shelters, recovery programs, community toy drives – volunteer to help others this season and stay out of your head. Participate in charitable giving or adopt someone who could use some holiday hope and cheer. Use the opportunity to engage deeper into your AA or recovery support group. Keep a check on your sober friends and offer support. Do something that is good for humanity and your recovery this season to avoid relapse.