‘Tis the season for giving, togetherness and socializing with family and friends. It’s also the most self-indulgent time of year for many people. For more than a month between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, that represents unique challenges for people working on their recovery from substance misuse.
Whether this is your first year in sobriety, or you have successfully maintained a substance-free life for quite some time, there are many traps and triggers lying in wait for the unwary. For example, maybe you visit your Uncle Pete’s house for the first time since getting clean, and he immediately tries to push a glass of his homemade spiked eggnog into your hand. Or, perhaps you go visit old friends you haven’t seen since exiting rehab, and they remind you of last New Year’s Eve when you all used cocaine together.
How can you make it through the next few weeks of this holiday season with your sanity and positive attitude intact? Here are our top tips to help you.
1. Stay in the Present
Dwelling on people you hurt with your past behavior is not conducive to your recovery, nor is worrying about future events that might not even come to pass. Instead, remain in the present, focused on today and your goals for your health and happiness. Developing a practice of mindfulness meditation can help you learn to live more in the moment.
2. Lean on Your Sober Supporters
Being sober during the holiday season doesn’t mean you have to turn down every party invitation you receive and sit at home by yourself instead. Indeed, loneliness can be a significant relapse trigger for many people, which is why isolating yourself might endanger your recovery during the holidays. You can still attend gatherings; just be sure to bring a sober sponsor or friend with you to keep you accountable and help you leave early, if necessary.
3. Start New, Sober Holiday Traditions
If you think back and realize that many of your favorite holiday pastimes centered on drug and alcohol use, now is the time to start new holiday traditions that have nothing to do with intoxicating substances. For example, if you enjoy baking, spend a day in the kitchen whipping up a festive batch of cookies to share with your neighbors. Or, invite your friends over to help you go all-out in decorating your house, trimming the tree and putting up lights.
4. Practice Saying No
No matter how careful you are, you will eventually encounter someone who offers you a drink, not knowing about your need to protect your sobriety. Rehearse saying phrases like, “No thanks, I don’t drink for health reasons.” If the person insists, it’s OK to walk away. The need to stay sober is your top priority.
You Can Pursue Your Recovery Goals This Holiday
Though it may represent an additional challenge to remain substance-free during the holiday season, you should have all the tools you need to make it a reality. And if you need to seek help for a substance abuse problem, reach out to us at New Found Life. We have 25 years of experience providing adult men and women with an evidence-based continuum of care.