Addiction recovery during the Holidays
by Richard Song
The holidays can be a particularly difficult time for people new to recovery. The number of challenges to your recovery can be daunting, between family gatherings, parties where alcohol is present, and emotional triggers such as stress and sadness related to past memories. You can build resistance to these triggers by preparing a plan. Here are some general tips that can help those recovering from an addiction through the holidays:
1) Be careful about which events you attend. Avoid those that will be highly tempting and that focus around “using” such as wine tastings and cocktail parties. When you arrive at an event, take note of the potential triggers and come up with a plan that will address each of those triggers – for instance, position yourself away from the bar.
2) Have a backup plan in case the temptation is too strong or you feel uncomfortable at an event. Bring a sober friend who will support you and leave with you if you don’t feel comfortable staying. If you feel comfortable doing so, let the hosts know your situation. That way, you won’t feel like you offended them if you decide to leave early.
3) Keep in touch with your recovery community and rely on other support systems. Attend SMART Recovery, Women for Sobriety, AA, NA or any other meetings – either face-to-face. on-line or both. If you have one, get involved with your place of worship. You may find others who also find the holidays a difficult time to navigate. It might be a good idea to take down a few numbers if you need someone to support you. Also consider attending a party for people in recovery.
4) Be prepared to say “no thanks” and/or explain your sobriety. Family and friends may be aware of your addiction, but strangers will most likely be unaware and may even offer you a drink.
5) Celebrate your sobriety! This is a time of celebration after all. Focus on those things that you “get back” when you’re in recovery and the ways in which life is better when you’re not using.