Holidays are a time for celebration and joy. The same should be true for individuals who are moving through life post-treatment. However, the holidays can sometimes conjure up difficulties that make staying clean and sober throughout the festivities a challenge. With this in mind, remember that just because someone is post-treatment doesn’t mean they won’t need the same support as before; in fact, they might need even more support.
If you are just moving through recovery, remember that you did the work and you came out strong. Try to see the holidays as a time to be with people who love you and support you.
Additionally, remember to manage your stress. Don’t put yourself in situations that you know are going to cause you undue anxiety. Nerves are okay, because we all get nervous, but don’t overextend yourself just to make others happy. You come first. Here are some tips to help you through.
Have a relapse prevention plan in place
- If you don’t feel completely comfortable attending celebrations solo, bring someone with you who can offer support. There is no shame in bringing a close friend or even an advocate who can help you if cravings occur or things get stressful.
- For those with a history of alcohol abuse, try bringing your own drinks such as sparkling cider or any other non-alcoholic beverage that will make you feel comfortable. This will help you not feel left out, but also control temptations.
- Don’t make yourself stay for the sake of saving face. Know your limits, and if you’ve had enough, it’s completely appropriate to say goodnight and head home. You can show up late or even early and leave early if you are worried about stress or being near certain individuals.
- Be selective about the parties or gatherings you plan on attending. If you know certain groups will be more tempting, try avoiding them. This doesn’t mean you have to skip every gathering you’re invited to. You shouldn’t isolate yourself, but be smart about who you see and interact with.
Know your triggers
- If you know someone will be at a celebration that you don’t want to be around, you don’t have to go. Your sobriety needs to come first. Be choosy of the people you begin to surround yourself with. It’s easy to slip back into old habits, especially when you have certain people who have been enablers.
- If food is a concern, eat before you go or bring your own meal with you. Plan it out, so you know that your meal won’t trigger anything. Those who support you will be understanding, and everyone else has no business in the matter.
Rely on your support system
- Try not to slack on attending meetings because of the business of the holidays. Support groups are one of the places where you will consistently find support throughout the holidays. Don’t let the festivities be an excuse for why you aren’t attending. For some, support groups are all they have during the holidays. So show your face and keep on gaining support and supporting others.
- One of the most important things about recovery is being mindful of how you feel. This requires that you actually listen to yourself if something feels off or you don’t feel right. If a situation makes you uncomfortable, excuse yourself from it and take a few minutes to yourself to gather your wits.
One thing many people in recovery fall victim to is the “treat yourself” mentality during the holidays. The “Oh, I’ve been so good,” or “It’s just one drink,” is an easy way to get yourself off track. Temptation is hard, and unfortunately, it is everywhere. But you can still have a wonderful holiday and stay clean and sober this season. Just remember you have people who support you and that you control your actions.
If you have any questions or want to get started on the path to sobriety, please call us at Center For Healing 888-500-9279.
Erica Franco Mortimer, MA, LPC, LCADC
Founder and CEO
Center for Healing
Erica is a licensed therapist with over twenty-years experience in mental health. Erica offers practical and straight forward advice to those struggling with addiction and their families. Having deep insight and understanding of addiction, Erica is able to offer guidance to those looking to regain control of their lives.