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Staying Sober During the Holidays

It is fairly undeniable that as Americans we tend to like to indulge over the holidays. We consume great amounts of food, alcohol and in some cases even drugs as a means of celebration. We at Origins Recovery Centers do not seek to pass judgment on those who care to spend their holidays partaking in such things. There is nothing wrong with the enhancement of the holidays with the moderate use of substances and in the case of non-addicts, it seems quite appropriate if done safely and not to too much of an excess.

However, this general acceptance of festive use of drugs and alcohol during the holidays can provide a substantial and additional challenge to the alcoholic and addict. If ever there were a time when a sober person might feel compelled or entitled, rather, to partake in drugs and alcohol it is during the holiday season and, as such, it is especially important that those of us in recovery remain vigilant in following certain guidelines as listed below:

  • Attend only the “right” holiday parties

We believe that a person in recovery, actively working a solid 12-step program, accountable to a sponsor and home group has a legitimate right and ability to attend any function whatsoever, including that which will have alcohol present, if such a person has a legitimate reason to be there. Of course seeing family and friends as well as business acquaintances qualifies as just such an event. However, you should be realistic and honest with yourself and your sponsor as to whether an event truly is about family, camaraderie or other legitimate reason to potentially put oneself close to alcohol. As we all know, quite a few events are organized under the auspices of being a legitimate social event, wherein fact it is really just an excuse to imbibe to excess. How do you know? It’s really just a judgment call that has to be based in total honesty, however here is a pretty solid rule of thumb: If you have prospective event you want to attend, consider the attendees that will be there and the purpose for which the event is taking place. Now ask yourself whether the event would still take place and if all the attendees would still be there if in fact alcohol was not going to be served ahead of time. Obviously if it seems like this would curtail the event all together, then it’s pretty likely this is a function a sober person has no business attending.

  • Have an escape route | Have your own way home

It is very likely that at a event where people are indulging in alcohol you will be just fine if your program is solid, however you don’t want to find out otherwise and have no established exit strategy. In other words, if you end up going to your work holiday party and it turns out that the huge consumption of egg nog is making you want to strongly participate in drinking, be sure that you didn’t arrive with someone else, thus preventing you from leaving. You absolutely should not have to stay in a place where drug or alcohol consumption is taking place if you don’t feel comfortable with it so don’t inadvertently create a situation in which your exit is problematic or impossible.

  • Be specific when offered a drink

This is an old, but tried and true trick of the person in recovery. When asked if you would care for a drink be sure and state clearly and specifically which non-alcoholic beverage you would like. You see, often a drinking person feels compelled to try to get others to join in the fun and be merry and they encourage others to indulge in alcohol (as you probably well know because, like us, you probably did the same thing when you were still drinking), so if you aren’t very specific with what you want, as in, “Sure, I will take a Diet Coke,” it leaves more room for a person to try and persuade you to drink which will then generally lead to a likely uncomfortable situation where you have to explain that you are in recovery. Moreover, if your specific and distinct preference for a non-alcoholic beverage is met by a degree of judgment for your choice of not partaking, you may need to reconsider whether or not you are at a holiday party that is appropriate for a person in recovery (as contemplated above).

  • 12-step programs don’t take the holidays off!

Much like we don’t cease to be alcoholics or addicts merely because it is the holiday season, our 12-step solutions also don’t go away during the holiday. There are numerous AA-related holiday events that take place in most cities and you should really look into attending such events if for no other reason than to see how people in long term sobriety have learned to make the holidays and their recovery two non-mutually exclusive aspects of their lives.

Don’t miss meetings because of the holidays! They are still going on, and in many cases sometimes in greater frequency BECAUSE of the holidays.

  • Be careful not to overeat too much!

It is unavoidable that you will partake in all of the wonderful holiday foods and we absolutely encourage such a thing. However, if you stuff yourself to such an excess that you actually feel bad about it, that may just be one more thing your disease will use against you as an excuse to try and make you drink or use. Such is especially true if you have weight or body image issues.

We see an increased number of admits after the holidays each year and this is of course due to the increased drug and alcohol consumption that is just part and parcel of celebrating the holidays. Don’t let your disease use the holidays as an excuse to let up on your spiritual program of action. Maintain your daily disciplines, follow the guidelines above and consider spreading the message of recovery as your greatest gift your fellowman during this holiday season.

Are you concerned about that you or a loved one might not be able to stay sober during this holiday season? If so, please call us at 561-841-1296 or click the contact button below.

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If you or someone you love has a substance use or mental health disorder, Origins Behavioral HealthCare can help. We will work alongside you to provide the most comprehensive treatment available.