Surviving The Holiday Season Sober
Whether you are considering entering recovery, newly sober or have been sober for quite some time, the holidays are, without a doubt, a stressful time of the year. Sobriety during the holidays may even seem completely impossible to some. How do you possibly not drink on the obligatory night out before Thanksgiving? Who doesn’t like spiked eggnog on Christmas? Who doesn’t do cocaine on New Years Eve? Hopefully these tips and ideas from like minded people who have been where you are will help you on your journey of recovery and help lessen your holiday stress.
1. Communicate with your family and friends that you are entering/in recovery:
Having an honest conversation with your family or close friends (that you are comfortable with) can be helpful for those in early recovery. Explaining what you need from them, in terms of support, can help make your holidays much more manageable. They will be proud of your decision to stop using drugs and alcohol. If there is certain family or friends you don’t feel comfortable with, consider creating a word that you can use to signal to your trusted family member that you feel uneasy/triggered.
2. Utilize your support system:
Whether you use a faith-based program, Alcoholics anonymous or narcotics anonymous, utilizing the support system you have created through these programs is vital in early recovery. Let them know you are worried about going home for the holidays and seeing family/friends. Reach out to them if you find yourself struggling. Communicating and utilizing your support system is vital to recovery.
3. Have a sober friend with you:
If you have a friend who is sober with you it could help you feel less alone and less tempted to drink or use drugs. This may not be possible for everyone, so make sure to remember to utilize your support system and have a sponsor or trusted friend on speed dial.
4. Go to a meeting before or after any events:
Going to a 12-step meeting before and/or after a family event or a “Friendsgiving” is a great time to talk to people who understand what your going through. Ask for advice. Arrive early, stay late. Make sober friends!
5. Limit your time around your triggers:
If your family is a huge source of anxiety for you, or maybe going to your hometown brings up difficult memories of using and drinking, limit your time there. You don’t need to be at your family or friend holiday event all day long if you know your Aunt Jane is going to stress you out, or if your friend Miles is always high and triggers you. You need to do what’s best for your recovery.
6. Use an auto response:
Have an automatic response ready for when people ask you if you want a drink. Practice saying it, so you feel confident in saying, “No thank you, I’m good.”
7. BYO Soda/Seltzer/Red bull:
Whatever your non-alcoholic drink of choice is, make sure you have it on hand. Having a drink in your hand may also help you say “no” when people try to offer you drinks.
8. Use self-care:
Self-care can range from making healthy life choices, going for a morning walk, meditating, or eating healthy, to taking a bubble bath and watching your favorite holiday movie. Make sure that during the holiday season you are practicing self-care and self-love. Be compassionate towards yourself, recovery is not always easy, but you can do this.
9. Get Help Now:
If you are less than a few days sober, and feel you are unable to remain sober and safe through the holiday season, consider calling a local treatment center and entering a partial hospitalization program or intensive outpatient program in order to have an extra layer of accountability.