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 SobrietyLong 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 HolidaysAlthough 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