The holidays are a season of excitement and joy, where we trim our decorations and spend time with family. But life often looks quite different, and the season’s stress can quickly pile up for the person recovering from addiction, making it a tricky time of year to maintain sobriety.
Family members often expect holiday excellence, and they call for every bit of your time and patience. The holiday menus are a carbohydrate buffet, and travel during a time of inflation puts a burden on your wallet. Packed airports, tight schedules, and those loved ones who drink too much.
Here are five tips and tactics that will organize you for the holiday season, help you avoid relapse and protect you from any difficult situations.
1. Make a Plan and Stick to the Plan
Holiday parties and family gatherings are predictably deep in alcohol, and people are likely to offer you a drink (or a substance). Plan for awkward situations and relapse triggering conditions. Try adding these suggestions to your sober holiday plan:
- Go to a 12-step meeting every day and stay in close contact with your sponsor (don’t have one, get one).
- Drive yourself to holiday parties so you can leave anytime.
- Arrive early to parties and leave before the holiday booze cheer sets in.
- Prepare to decline a drink or other substances.
- Plan an escape plan if things go wrong.
Don't be surprised by a trigger. If you arrive prepared to safeguard your recovery, you should be able to fend off relapse.
2. Pay it Forward Through Service
If you want to maintain sobriety during the holidays, look for every chance to be of service. A grateful, humble heart usually doesn’t pick-up. Volunteer at a homeless shelter, help a newcomer, and spend time with close family. There are a thousand different ways to help others, and each opportunity strengthens your recovery while warding off holiday self-pity.
When you take the occasion to assist others, you show empathy. You become grateful and begin to see all the blessings in your life. And it doesn't get more sober than that!
3. Pay Attention to What’s in Your Glass
At holiday events, make sure you have an ample supply of your favorite beverage or mocktail. People won't feel so predisposed to offer you a drink and be mindful of asking someone else to get you a beverage. They may misinterpret you or forget that you don't drink. If you do inadvertently take a sip of an alcoholic drink, don't be terrified. It's not a relapse unless you finish the drink and get a second! A mistake is not a relapse, and it's not going to put you back in treatment. This is one of the moments when you call your sponsor or others in your sober support circle.
4. Maintain Wellness Throughout the Holidays
Mark the holiday season and the richness of your sober lifestyle by taking time to be the best version of yourself. Self-care includes good nutrition, exercise, and restful sleep. You will feel better you feel physically and emotionally. Cultivate your spirit through reflective thinking and connection with loved ones. Devote time each day for relaxation and meditation or catch a yoga class. By staying active and committed to your own wellbeing, you will avoid the ups and downs of carbs, sugars, and likely keep off those 10 extra pounds that most gain throughout the silly season.
5. Go to Treatment if You Need it
Many people think the holidays are a bad time to admit a loved one into rehab. The truth is the holidays will not improve for anyone (or their family) with a person struggling in active addiction. In fact, it is downright dangerous if the individual is using street drugs like heroin or fentanyl that are causing overdose deaths every five minutes in the United States. Typically, the holidays escalate substance abuse and things only get worse. Detox and residential treatment started during the holidays could be the best gift you give to your family and yourself. While your family will miss your presence, they wouldn’t miss worrying about you and panic every time the phone rings. In fact, they will be grateful that you are going to detox and treatment to begin the journey in recovery.
About BriteLife Recovery
BriteLife Recovery is a national provider of addiction treatment for adult men and women. With a focus on total health and wellness, BriteLife offers individualized substance use disorder programs that are centered on client choice and collaboration. The company operates luxury treatment centers in Hanover, PA and Hilton Head, SC.
About the Author
Matthew Koenig is the principal of Last Call Marketing, which devotes their efforts to Digital Marketing, Content Marketing, Website Design and SEO, primarily in healthcare and tourism concerns. Mr. Koenig is based out of South Florida and is in long-term recovery.