The holidays are a time of joy and celebration for almost everyone. However, as a recovering addict, you may find that those five weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve create a lot of stress and temptation. Even addicts who’ve been in recovery for years can struggle during these times, feeling tempted to relapse.
The encouraging news is that you can enjoy the holiday season sober and happy. Don’t risk everything you’ve gained throughout your recovery journey. The best way to stay sober during the holiday season is to start preparing yourself now.
Tips for Staying Sober During the Holidays
While you probably have incorporated a few recovery habits into your everyday life, holidays add an extra dynamic you need to be prepared for. The stress of traveling, finances, being surrounded by family members who may question your recovery and even the presence of alcohol at holiday gatherings can make these occasions difficult. So, it’s important to add some prevention strategies so you can enjoy your holidays and support your recovery throughout the season.
Here are a few time-tested strategies for how to stay sober over the holidays:
- Know your triggers: During your recovery, you likely pinpointed the things that caused you to crave drug or alcohol use in the past. By practicing a little bit of self-examination, you can recognize your personal triggers and avoid situations or people that could lead to a relapse. Even if certain situations are unavoidable, being aware of your triggers is a mindful tactic to staying drug-free during holidays.
- Plan your responses ahead of time: If you are seeing people who have not been a part of your life in recovery, they may have questions that prove difficult to handle. Try to plan ahead for this with simple answers to common questions. Don’t feel the need to elaborate and remember — you have the right to privacy if needed.
- Make an exit plan: You have the freedom to leave any gathering if it becomes too much for you. Think about how you might manage this. Did you bring your own car? Are you with a friend or family member who understands your situation and can help ferry you somewhere more stable? Having a plan will help you feel more secure if things start to get out of hand.
- Bring a friend: Whether it’s a close friend or family member who’s helped you during your recovery, a sponsor or someone else in recovery who understands, try to have someone on hand at holiday gatherings who can provide immediate support. If they’re not able to be there in person, let them know ahead of time you may need to reach them by phone.
- Decline an invite if needed: If you have a bad feeling about a gathering, even if it’s a family event, trust your gut and remember you have the right to honor your sobriety over these kinds of obligations. For those with family-rooted trauma, holidays can be especially triggering. Listen to your intuition and decide where you are safest.
- Find other things to do: If your job gives you time off during the holiday season, these unoccupied moments can lead to a lot of temptation. So, find other things to do instead of using drugs or alcohol. Get more sleep. Take time to exercise or meditate. Cook new, healthy recipes. Go out with friends and see a movie. Or, help others in need. Giving back is a great way to experience the joy and thankfulness of the holiday season. Providing yourself with distractions will help you handle anything that may pop up.
Don’t Wait to Treat Addiction During the Holidays
A quote by Payne Stewart states, “People who have never had an addiction don’t understand how hard it can be.” That’s especially true during the holidays when you’re surrounded by well-meaning family and friends. If you are struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, don’t wait. It may be that the only way you can get through this season sober is by getting the care you need from experts.
At Gateway Foundation, our caring team specializes in evidenced-based treatments that will provide the positive outcomes you need to stay drug-free and sober during the holidays and beyond.
Give your family and yourself the best gift you can this holiday season. Contact Gateway Foundation at 877.379.9078 to begin your journey toward healing and recovery.