The holiday season is a busy one, with family get-togethers, parties, work events, and open houses.
There are many opportunities to socialize, which can also mean challenges for people in recovery.
This is a time of year when people look forward to celebrating. They “let their hair down” as normal work schedules are suspended, or at least interrupted for a time. It’s a time to reconnect with family members and friends.
Since no family is perfect, there are always tensions when people get together. The holidays are a time for visiting old wounds and hurts, too. With all of these stressors and distractions going on, it can be challenging to stay sober over the holiday season. These suggestions can help you to get through the holidays with your sobriety intact.
Stay Sober Over the Holidays with These Suggestions
Practice Mindfulness as Much as Possible
Mindfulness, or being in the moment, will stop you from trying to dredge up events from the past, which can’t be changed or trying to control the future, which you haven’t experienced yet. If you are going to holiday events focusing on things that your family members said or did in the past, they will pull you down. You may need to decide, at least for that event or evening, not to dwell on apologies not given (or worse).
Try not to spend time before the event getting anxious because you “know” how So-and-So will be. Just get ready, giving yourself positive messages. “I’m going to enjoy myself.” “It will be good to see everyone.”
Be Selective About Invitations You Accept
You aren’t obligated to accept all the invitations you receive over the holidays. Consider the type of party or event before you agree to attend.
If it’s being held during the day or people attending are bringing their children, it’s less likely to include alcohol or drug use.
Is there a sport or activity involved for those attending the activity? This is another sign that it could be an alcohol-free event.
Is the event being held in an alcohol-free location? Unless the location is a licensed bar, restaurant, or a private home, you likely won’t find alcohol being served there.
Take Someone with You to Parties
Having someone with you to watch your back isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s an indication that you realize how powerful your disease is. The holidays are a time when everyone is busy, people get tired and stressed out, and on top of that, there are multiple parties and get-togethers. It’s no wonder that tempers can get short and emotional buttons get pushed.
Some people may be triggered by the stress, the sight or smell of alcohol, or seeing people they used to do drugs with. It’s understandable that they may think about handling their stress the way they used to, by drinking or using.
If you have a sober friend with you at a party, they can keep an eye on you and step in to suggest that it’s time to leave if they see you starting to struggle. There’s no shame in walking away from a situation if it’s putting your sobriety at risk.
Have a Plan for an Early Exit
Always make arrangements for your own transportation home from a party if you feel you need to leave early. It’s sometimes convenient to go with family members or friends, but that means you have to stay until the person who is driving is ready to leave.
Before you go to the party, find out how you can get home (or to the place you are staying if you are out of town). Have the name of more than one cab company (they can get busy during the holidays and it may take some time to reach you), research whether you can take public transit, or arrange to call a friend or your sponsor to pick you up if necessary.
Great Oaks Recovery Is Here to Help
Your sobriety is something for you to celebrate during the holiday season. If you’ve had a slip that turned into a relapse or you want to start treatment, Great Oaks Recovery can help. We offer a range of treatment, from detoxification to residential treatment and continuing care.