Staying dedicated to recovery takes work, and potentially becomes increasingly complex over the holiday season. Even someone who has never struggled with addiction, but wants to abstain from alcohol …
Staying dedicated to recovery takes work, and potentially becomes increasingly complex over the holiday season. Even someone who has never struggled with addiction, but wants to abstain from alcohol this holiday season, could find it challenging.
Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, there is an excessive amount of alcohol consumed. The stress and pressure placed on families and individuals are tough to manage. Everyone wants the perfect holiday gathering, but everything does not always go as planned.
Relapse can happen in seconds for someone in recovery, and anyone who is sober and curious could easily justify binge drinking to manage holiday stress.
These holiday survival tips can help with making the holiday season manageable while staying sober.
Make it known you do not want to drink or use drugs, and come prepared. Give your family or friends a heads-up that you are not drinking. Bring some non-alcoholic drinks, have an exit plan, bring your own vehicle, or attend the party with a sober friend.
Make it known that you are dedicated to recovery, or you are choosing to abstain from alcohol this holiday season.
“More holiday functions are providing non-alcoholic mocktails as a better substitute for alcoholic drinks,” said Marcel Gemme of Addicted.org. “Alcohol brings with it risks of drinking and driving, arguments, and severe hangovers. Non-alcoholic drinks remove the risk and provide a better option.”
In New York State, drunk drivers cause more than 17,000 deaths annually. During the holiday season, the problems with drinking and driving tend to increase. Planning ahead is a critical part of surviving the holidays sober.
Recognize triggers or make alternative plans. Relapse triggers can include the environment, family members, sights, sounds or smells. Take the time to recognize what could trigger a relapse, and have a plan in place to avoid this.
Additionally, if there are holiday functions that make you feel uncomfortable or you know there will be excessive or alcohol use there, decline the invitation. It is OK to decline invitations to family gatherings or work functions.
There is no wrong way to experience the holiday season, as long as you can access the necessary support. Have a support network arranged, whether it is a 12-step meeting, friend, spouse or a family member.
Staying connected to a support network makes it easier to manage the holiday season sober.
Finally, stick to a regular routine. The holidays can be hectic and completely throw a person off their normal routine. While in recovery, keeping a routine or schedule is essential, especially when it comes to eating, sleeping and physical activity.
The holidays are a joyous time, and despite what could happen, stay focused on the true meaning: love, compassion, kindness and gratitude. Create new memories, experience new traditions, and enjoy yourself this holiday season.
Michael Leach has spent most of his career as a healthcare professional specializing in substance use disorder treatment and addiction recovery. He contributes to the healthcare website Recovery Begins, rehab-center.com.
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