Holidays are hard
Sobriety is hard enough during regular times. Holidays are much harder, because of many reasons. For many people, holidays are a reminder of mistakes they’ve made and relationships that are beyond repair. For others, holidays bring back memories of happier times when things seemed simpler.
To make it worse, the holidays are a time when people who normally don’t drink are celebrating with alcohol. From late-night eggnog at Christmas to champagne in the new year, the holidays are a reminder of a lost way of life for someone struggling with addiction.
Potential problems and triggers
As someone in recovery, you are making new habits all the time. Holidays are just another example of that. With every holiday you get through, you are proving that you can get past the obstacles and reminders of drinking so you can practice a new way of living.
People might be your biggest triggers or reasons for getting back into negative ways of thinking. Holidays mean spending time with family members and friends you may have hurt in the past, and the wounds caused by those injuries can feel fresh for years, especially if you haven’t dealt with them directly yet.
For other people, the biggest triggers might be actual visual reminders of what they’re missing. It’s impossible to avoid seeing happy people celebrating everywhere, even on television and in commercials.
The good thing is, you know exactly when the holidays are so you can prepare for them. Unlike some other threats to your peace of mind that come as a surprise, you can plan for the holidays. Here are some tips and strategies you can use to get through the holidays:
1. Stay connected with your support network. Go to your work party with your best friend instead of a date, find out where the local meetings are if you travel, and put your sponsor on speed dial. You’re not alone, and you never have to deal with sobriety over the holidays by yourself. There are even online meetings to help you get through.
2. Make a gratitude list. If you have a good sponsor, you’re probably making a gratitude list every day already. There are few better ways to change your mood than focusing on what you have and what is going right. If you’re not already doing it, make a habit of coming up with one thing you’re grateful every morning when you get up and one thing you’re grateful for every night when you go to sleep. When you are dealing with tough events like holidays, it will be easier to remember what to do.
3. Plan holiday fun that doesn’t involve alcohol. Instead of thinking about drinking spiked eggnog on Christmas Day, think of caroling and decorating the tree. Instead of thinking about all the alcohol people drink on New Year’s Eve, think of the traditional meal and the big ball drop. You will find that there are far more non-alcohol-related traditions than ones that involve drinking.
4. Plan your exit. This is always a good habit if you are going into any situation where you will be uncomfortable. If you go to a party, let the host know you have plans for later too, so you can leave if you get uncomfortable without feeling awkward. Have a friend call you at a certain time so you can make an excuse to leave if you have to.
5. Add extra meetings. A lot of addicts have trouble over the holidays, so sobriety clubs will often have meeting marathons and pitch-in dinners. Even if you have a lot of other places to go, make plans to at least stop in and touch base with the fellowship of your choice.
Start Your Path to Recovery Today
You can make the choice to live sober today. At Multi-Concept Recovery, we understand that no two people are alike so no two recovery programs will be exactly alike. We use evidence-based practice to design individual programs of recovery so our clients can find longterm recovery. If you or a loved one needs help, please feel free to call one of our caring staff today.