With the holidays just a few weeks away, many of us are looking forward to spending time with family and friends. But if you’re recovering from alcohol or drug addiction, the next few weeks can be some of the most challenging of the year. Here is how to tackle the holiday season without jeopardizing your sobriety.
Try to Identify your Triggers
Triggers for alcohol and substance abuse vary widely from person to person, but many of them are amplified during the holidays. First and foremost, celebrations and family gatherings are joyful occasions. At the same time, they disrupt your routine. For many people who are recovering from drug addiction, maintaining a daily routine is critical to successful recovery. If you can’t maintain your regular schedule, try to make time for elements of your routine that help you through the day.
Stress is another common trigger of relapse, and it may seem strange to think of stress during the holidays. However, managing large family gatherings, organizing last-minute presents, and cooking meals for dozens of people would increase anyone’s stress levels. If stress is one of your triggers, try to make time to relax and plan time to de-stress.
Build Strategies for Managing Social Situations
Social situations should be a source of fun and enjoyment. During the holidays, however, many involve alcohol. If you’re recovering from alcohol or other substance abuse, that is tricky, and you need to prepare a strategy to avoid relapsing.
One approach would be to let people know you are in recovery and therefore not drinking. If you are not ready to do this, volunteering to drive friends and family could work, too. It’s a great reason to ask for a glass of water instead of a glass of wine.
Make a Plan for Saying ‘No’ to Alcohol
How do you say ‘no’ to alcohol? For starters, it’s important to understand that nearly 40 million Americans suffer from a substance abuse disorder. That means you’re unlikely to be the only person in the room thinking the same thoughts.
There are plenty of reasons to say ‘no’ to alcohol: health conditions unrelated to recovery, lifestyle changes, and your plans for tomorrow that you don’t want to jeopardize are all valid reasons to stay sober.
Bring a Friend
Staying away from alcohol and drugs during the holidays is easier when you’re not alone. If you’re worried about your resolve, invite a friend to social occasions that may involve drinking. Your friend stays sober with you and can help steer conversations away from why you may or may not want to drink.
Create an Exit Strategy
Let’s be honest, many parties have a point of no return. If you leave before that time, you keep your recovery intact and get to enjoy the next day. If you stay when the party goes out of control, the consequences could be dire. For anyone in recovery, suffering a hangover is only the beginning of a long road back.
Plan ahead and decide on a time when you want to leave a party and think about how to say your goodbyes. Make sure you know how you’ll get home and stick to your plan. You can even let people know ahead of time that you need to leave at a specific time.
Look Up Meetings in Your Area
No one needs to go through recovery alone. Remember that whenever things seem to get too hard and you’re in danger of relapsing you can always get help at a local meeting.
Look up meetings in your area and keep a schedule on your fridge or on your phone. By doing that, you will have easy access to the support you need when you need it. Sometimes, even the best preparation and well-thought-out strategy are not enough. That doesn’t make you weak or a failure, it simply means that right now, you need more support.
If that’s happened to you, consider joining a residential recovery program. Residential recovery means having access to support 24/7 in a supportive, positive, faith-based environment.