It might feel like it’s hard to do. You always drank when the family was around. Perhaps it was your way of staying sane. Or maybe the pressure to drink from other family members get particularly strong during the holidays, even though you’ve already found sobriety. Whatever the reason, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and the holiday season in general, can be a triggering time. It might be the time of year that really challenges your sober living.
However, with enough planning, enough preparing, and enough thinking about what you need to stay sober, it’s possible. This year, you don’t have to relapse. Instead, you can continue the commitment you made to yourself to get sober and stay that way.
Below are some tips to consider for this holiday season. Although sober living might have been difficult to achieve at the start, the following suggestions can keep you on your roll of sober living and well-being.
Plan ahead. Sometimes just thinking about the holidays can bring anxiety. The more planning you can do for yourself, the better. Think about how you can make this time easier. If you’re family is getting together but the idea of joining them is troubling, perhaps you can talk to a relative ahead of time and describe your situation. Or if you’re someone who misses being with family and the loneliness is a trigger, perhaps you can gather some friends together. You might be able to drive to a location where other recovering addicts might be. Holiday sober living is possible, only it might require being creative. Once you’ve decided what you can and can’t do, share your decisions with friends and family.
Don’t let other people determine what you should or shouldn’t do. You don’t have to do what others think you should do. Give yourself the right to do what you want to do! Part of recovery and sober living is discovering and acting on your empowerment. Once you know what’s going to best serve your sobriety, share it with others and stick to your plan.
Accept limitations. Some recovering addicts might be able to spend time with family, but with limits. For instance, perhaps old family celebrations always include a toast. Perhaps you need to drink something non-alcoholic. Or it might be that many of your family members are using marijuana, for instance, and you’ve decided not to participate. You can communicate your limitation to your family in an effort to stay true to your sobriety.
Be informed before attending events. Find out who will be there, how long it’s expected to last, and whether there will be alcohol or other drugs. Brainstorm on how you might be able to attend without participating in the drugs and alcohol. Think clearly about what you’ll do if and when you’re tempted with a drink or a joint. Be prepared with your answer so that you’re not caught off guard.
Ask for help, even when it’s hard to do. If it feels right, allow people to help in concrete ways such as being a sober companion at parties, driving you home when you are ready to leave, and encouraging your sobriety. Or you might need help with processing your feelings about the upcoming holidays. Friends are there to help; you can rely on them for being a support in your sobriety and prevention of relapses.
Find time for rest. The holidays can be emotionally draining, especially if you’re grieving old events or if this time of year reminds you of a history you’d rather not remember. As already mentioned, this time of year might easily be a trigger for drinking, drugging, and relapsing, but it doesn’t have to be. Find time for rest and quiet time for yourself. Remember to take good care of yourself during this time. Good self-care will support your ability to say no to any temptations from family or friends.
The holidays can be a challenging time and may be triggering, but with the right amount of planning, you can get through this holiday season sober!
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