How to Maintain your Sobriety during the Holiday Season
Holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year are supposed to be fun and cheerful times celebrated with our closest loved ones.
Unfortunately, these celebration are also a cause of unrealistic expectations and stress. What gifts do I purchase, and how bad will the shopping crowds be? Can I afford to buy Christmas gifts this year? Do I have enough food for the party? What parties will I go to? Adding addiction recovery to the stress of certain family “traditions” can also trigger relapse. Both Thanksgiving Eve and New Year’s Eve are considered to be the two biggest drinking days of the calendar year. (St. Patrick’s Day is considered a close third).
The key to overcoming potential holiday triggers is in “recovery planning”. Try to foresee what will take place and have an escape plan intact. Maybe invite your sponsor with you to your family outings or office party. Maybe drive yourself so you know that you’ll be able to leave an outing at your convenience if tempted to drink alcohol. It may also be wise to bookend your holiday outings with 12-step meetings. These meetings are uplifting and will continuously give you the motivation to maintain your sobriety.
It’s important to understand the emotional toll of the holidays–not just on you but on others.
Many of your friends and family members may feel the same stress you do and deal with it by overusing alcohol or drugs. They might pressure you to drink or use with them, so be prepared for this. At parties, pour yourself a non-alcoholic beverage and keep it in plain sight so that no one offers you a drink. If you know of a friend or relative who will push you to drink, stay away from them. Realize that your sobriety is your responsibility and no one else’s. Also stay away from friends and relatives who like to gossip, criticize, and “stir the pot.”
Aside from the normal stressors associated with the holidays, many people feel an especially strong grief over loved ones who are no longer with them.
This, more than anything, can trigger a relapse. During this time, recognize that loved ones who have passed would want you to maintain your sobriety and stay on track for a lifetime of recovery. Grieving is natural; there is no timetable for it, and no one handles it the same way. Talk with a therapist or sponsor if you are having difficulty dealing with grief during the holidays.
At the end of the day, remind yourself that the period from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day lasts only five weeks or roughly 40 days. With the right mindset, you can avoid relapse and experience a joyous holiday season.
To find out more on how to maintain your sobriety during the holiday season, please contact us anytime at (337) 456.9111.
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