The holidays are a wonderful time of year, but they can also present challenges for those in recovery. No matter what substance you are in recovery from, here are some things to keep in mind as you head into the holiday season.
General Best Practices
Don’t let this busy time of year keep you from attending your usual recovery meetings, support groups, or doctor’s appointments. Keep doing whatever you are doing that keeps you clean and sober. A routine can be very helpful during the recovery process.
Take care of yourself by eating healthy, drinking water, getting plenty of rest, and exercising.
Limit your commitments. Learn how to say NO.
Talk to your sponsor or friends who encourage you.
When you feel cravings due to holiday stress, take a walk. Getting outside will get you away from anything that might be tempting, and the natural light can actually reduce stress.
Plan fun holiday activities. If you are just sitting around bored, you are more likely to make poor choices.
Make time to help others during this time of year. Studies have shown that participating in community service can actually aid in your own personal recovery, while having the added benefit of giving your time and attention to someone else’s needs.
Parties and Gatherings
The holiday season is full of many potential events – work-related gatherings, holiday parties, and New Year’s celebrations. All of these gatherings have the potential to provide more temptation than usual, as they are often accompanied by alcohol. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
If you are hosting a holiday dinner or party at your house, you have the right to not serve alcohol. You could make some fun “mock-tails” as an alternative.
Family gatherings can be very stressful. If tensions mount, you can step outside for a short walk or drive to clear your head. Have a backup plan. Removing yourself entirely from the situation may be the best choice for your long-term sobriety.
Before you attend any gathering, talk it through with your sober support system and have an escape plan. And always remember, just because there’s a party doesn’t mean you have to go. Avoid people, places, and things that do not support your recovery.
Practice refusal lines such as: “I’m taking a medicine I can’t use with alcohol”, or “No, thank you. I have to drive later”.
If you can bring a guest to a party, bring a sober friend that you can lean on for support.
Carry a soda so that you know you have something safe to drink.
Bring your own car. That way if you start to feel uncomfortable you can easily leave.
If the party is starting to lose control, leave!
Plan to spend New Year’s Eve with people who don’t use drugs or alcohol, and eliminate any temptation before it has a chance to begin.
Hopefully these tips will help you during the busy holiday season. You have worked hard to start your recovery process. Don’t allow your rehabilitation to be derailed by the stresses of the holidays.