Holidays Can Be Challenging but They Don't Have to Break Your Sobriety!
Holidays can be a particularly stressful time of the year, whether you are an alcoholic, an addict, or just a regular everyday person, they are times of financial stress and they are times of emotional stress as well. They bring together family and friends under a Hallmark notion that the holidays have to be a certain way and many times people find that their actual holiday experience does not match up with this.
For some the holidays remind them of a happy time gone by. A time when their loved ones were still around and so their absence from the holiday season brings about depression as the grief process starts all over again. For others the holidays remind them of trauma from their past. It may remind them of people, places, and things that they might rather forget. It may remind of them of the let down of past holidays or being around their friends and family may remind them of certain traumatic events that they do not wish to relive.
For the alcoholic and addict the holiday season can be all of these things rolled into one, but with the added pressure of having to stay sober through it all. Many times people who experience the holiday blues find solace in a drink or drug in order to just make it to January with as little emotional damage as possible. But for the alcoholic and the addict this is not possible and they have to be present for every emotion and cringe worthy family experience that they have.
It is not all bad though and just because the holidays can be a drag does not mean that they have to drag you out of your sobriety. I know… a terrible pun, but I had to. So with Thanksgiving just a few short weeks away and Christmas following suit let's a take a look at how you can weather the challenges that the holidays can bring, all while keeping your recovery intact.
How To Stay Sober Through The Holidays
With the way that recovery works today, it appears that many people do not get sober in the town that they grew up in. Many people go away for treatment and with the bustling recovery communities that sprout up around these treatment centers, many people choose to stay in the new city after they get out of treatment.
What this means is that many people will be going home, away from their recovery center, in order to celebrate the holidays with their families. Since they will be away from their normal meetings, their friends, and support, a great deal of addicts and alcoholics become afraid that they will be tempted to drink or use drugs, since they will be back in their old environments. Adding to this is the fact that during the holidays there is usually a tremendous amount of liquor around and you have a recipe for a possible relapse if you do not take care of yourself.
So one of the most important things that a person can do during the holidays is make sure that they stay grounded in their recovery. If you are traveling home for the holidays be sure to find out where the local meetings are and make plans ahead of time to attend some. It is very easy to let up on meetings when you are on vacation, but especially during a time like the holidays, when you will be surrounded almost exclusively by people who do not suffer from an addiction, it is important to stay connected.
It is important as well to have an exit strategy in any situation that you go into where you might be tempted to drink or use drugs. If you know that you will be going over to a family member’s house and there will be heavy drinking, then it is important to talk to your immediate family members about the fact that if you get uncomfortable and have to leave, you will do so. This ensures that they are on the same page as you and are not surprised if you decide to up and leave the party early.
If possible it would be good to have access to a car in times like these, so that you will not have to rely on another person to take you out of the situation, but if this not possible there is always Uber, or if need be, you can always just go for a short walk to clear your head. Sometimes in situations where we feel triggered, taking a walk and calling another friend in sobriety can be enough to calm us down and in doing so you can return to the party if you so desire.
It is also important to take care of yourself emotionally and mentally during the holidays. Being around family can be tough and like the saying goes, “You can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your family.” If you know that being around your family for an extended period of time is enough to make you want to pull your hair out, then try during this holiday season to make plans at least once or twice during your trip to do things that do not include them. Having a short break from them can do wonders for your mental health and can also help to keep you from having to make amends later on.
It is important as well to stay in touch with your support group. With all of the traveling that occurs during the holidays this can sometimes be tough and some people may not reach out for fear that they are interrupting someone. This however is usually not the case and maintaining contact with those closest to you during the difficult times of the holidays is imperative. Not only does it allow you to get out of yourself, but it can also help you to not feel alone in your struggles.
I wish everyone a happy and healthy holiday season and if you are really not looking forward to the next couple of months, just know that you are never alone and January is just around the corner.
Rose Lockinger is a passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.