While the holiday season may look different this year, many people will find the challenge to stay sober hasn’t changed. Relapsing when alcohol is a big part of celebrating a holiday isn’t uncommon, particularly for people who are newly sober or people who are not actively engaging their recovery disciplines. Just like any other time of year, it may take effort to keep your recovery going. Today, we’re going to introduce some helpful ways to create lasting sobriety during the holidays–and all year long.
Substance abuse recovery and the holidays can be a challenging combination. The endless distractions of the season can take people’s minds off the daily work needed to stay sober. Gatherings where alcohol is served or where family conflict exists can be especially problematic, and people may feel pressure to participate even when they know it is a poor idea. Like any other time of year, people in recovery should avoid toxic situations that could knock them off-center. Instead, set aside time to connect with others in recovery, continue to honor personal commitments, and create a list of family members and friends who can provide support day or night.
Addiction and the Holidays
Honor personal commitments.
The holidays can be a distraction from what’s most important in keeping ourselves healthy and safe. The commitment you have to stay sober may need even more attention during this time. Your daily recovery disciplines, service work, and anything else you use to keep your recovery going should remain priorities.
Avoid toxic situations.
Whether you are in recovery or not, situations that create emotional distress aren’t good for your mental health. These toxic situations can come while around the people you care about most: family and friends. Holiday gatherings aren’t mandatory when holidays and substance abuse can be so closely connected. If you recognize certain people in your life are not healthy to be around right now, it’s okay to give your permission to stay away.
Holiday Alcohol Consumptions
Gather with and support other people in recovery.
The holiday season isn’t a time to forget your mission of sobriety, it’s a time to celebrate it.
Focus gatherings on activities, not alcohol.
Give yourself the opportunity to create new memories and traditions. For many families, drinking is part of the tradition of celebrating the holidays. But, this season can be a time to introduce new traditions to acknowledge the holidays and recovery from addiction. Consider decorating, singing songs, or watching a favorite holiday movie as the activity to center the whole family.
Relapse During the Holidays
Connect with and serve others.
Isolating yourself and letting self-pity take over only increases the chances of relapsing during the holiday season. Instead, think about ways to connect with other people. It could come from donating your time where it’s needed in your community or making a small donation to an organization whose mission you support.
Keep spending under control.
Financial concerns can stress anyone out. Overspending or not being able to afford to pay for the gifts you want to buy can both cause distress that can undermine your recovery. It’s helpful to create a budget and stick to it. Also, you can find other ways to “gift” family and friends using your skills and talents.
Preparing for Holiday Challenges to Addiction Recovery
Make a list of helpful people–and be on someone else’s list, too.
The holiday season is such a busy time for everyone so it’s helpful to plan ahead for your recovery needs. Making a list of people you can reach out to is one step. For some people this may be a therapist, for others, it may be their sponsor or even the people they are sponsoring. Remember, each person will have their commitments, too. Create a system for offering mutual support by phone, over Zoom, in person, etc.
Be open about your recovery needs.
Rather than keeping your recovery needs a secret, share them with people you believe will be supportive. Your openness can help them understand what’s going on and support you through challenging times. It also shows your willingness to accept responsibility for your own sobriety and your genuine interest in receiving the help of others.
Origins Behavioral HealthCare is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety. For information on our programs, call us today: 561-841-1296.