As the holidays approach, are you making a list and checking it twice? This time of year brings endless to-dos: concerts, parties, shopping, mailing packages, and more. It can become overwhelming very quickly. And if you are in recovery for addiction, figuring out how to maintain sobriety during these months is tricky. If you feel that the holiday season may derail your recovery, reach out to Fair Park Counseling right away. Our compassionate staff can help you make a plan that will keep you moving in the right direction.

Holiday Stress Can Sideline Your Sobriety

Long lists of holiday commitments and expectations add stress to an already challenging recovery process. The frustrating hours spent in traffic, standing in line, or going to events only make sobriety more difficult. Finding a safe place to relax and avoid triggers is difficult when you are stuck at a work party or in a checkout line at the mall. For some, their place of employment can become a problem area during the holidays. You might be working extra hours to cover for coworkers who are on vacation, triggering a desire to unwind with a drink after a long day. Or there may be office parties you need to attend where the alcohol is flowing. Maybe you will get a holiday bonus that could make you want to celebrate with a drink. And in addition to shopping and work obligations, your family could throw you into a spiral as well. Family can be a great source of support. But for many people in recovery, family time can turn from support to stress in the blink of an eye. Family holiday parties can be particularly challenging when it comes to staying sober. It’s a combination of familiar triggers and the constant presence of alcohol that can make it so difficult.

How to Maintain Sobriety During the Holidays

Although this time of year brings unique challenges to those in recovery, you can succeed in your sobriety. With some tried-and-true tips in your tool belt, you can enjoy the season and stay sober.

1. Have a plan.

Long-term sobriety requires a plan. Do not go into the holidays thinking you can wing it and stay sober. You must have an arrangement in place to protect your sobriety during this season. Some things to think about as you plan with intention are:
  • Which events should you avoid? Is being in a bar a trigger? Then politely decline those invitations. Who can help you in a tough moment? You need to have someone you can call or meet up with when you are tempted to drink.
  • Who can help you navigate family gatherings? It may not be possible to avoid all family commitments. But if someone is a trigger or an obstacle to your recovery, find a loved one who can be your support and advocate in those moments.
  • You might want to consider asking your sponsor to attend some holiday events with you. Or use technology to your advantage. Try scheduling Facetime with someone who can help you stick with your program.

2. Be prepared to adjust your traditions and commitments.

The hectic nature of the holiday season can take a toll on anyone. For someone working hard to stay sober, this time of year can be especially challenging. One way to handle it is to give yourself permission to be flexible and intentional. You may need to decline invitations and events that have always been part of your holiday traditions. If they set you up for failure, you need to say “no.” And this can be difficult. Remember, learning how to maintain sobriety during the holidays is vital. But you have the right to take charge of the holiday craziness and turn it around. Make a conscious choice to put yourself in a position to enjoy the holidays while maintaining your sobriety. It’s the best gift you can give yourself.

3. Do something different.

To learn how to maintain sobriety over the holidays, you might need to think about doing something completely different. Who says that you have to go to the same holiday get-togethers and parties? There are many ways to find joy and fulfillment during this season. Consider:
  • A trip to the beach
  • Volunteering with a local organization
  • Taking your dog for a hike
  • Attending recovery meetings

4. Be clear about what goes into your cup.

You must know what you are drinking, and you may need to be bold in asking this critical question. Holiday libations can be a bit untraditional, and alcohol can lurk in seemingly benign beverages. If you did not make the punch, mulled drink, or eggnog, you need to ask what is in it. And don’t forget about the food. Many desserts include alcohol that does not cook-off, so be sure to investigate. When in doubt, ask. It’s just another tip we’ve learned on how to maintain sobriety.

5. Keep away from your triggers.

Avoid the things that make you want to drink. Plain and simple. But, avoidance can be difficult during the holiday season since many triggers are present at work gatherings and family functions. You must let your sobriety take center stage. If there is a scenario or person that makes you want to take a drink, so what you can to avoid them. Even if that means not attending an event. It is better to have someone be unhappy with you than to have you at risk of relapsing.

6. Be good to yourself.

Take some time this holiday season to spoil yourself a little bit. While learning how to maintain sobriety during the holidays sounds no fun, adding self-care to the routine can help. Go against the trend and find the time to relax so you can be mindful and present in the moment.

7. Consider a treatment program for support.

Inpatient and intensive outpatient recovery programs are great options when considering how to maintain sobriety over the holidays. The extra support that an excellent program provides can help you get through the season with your sobriety intact.

Get the Help You Deserve

The counselors at Fair Park Counseling can help you get through this time frame with success. We cannot promise it will be easy, but we can tell you that support is available. Reach out today to get the assistance you need.