Staying Sober During the Holidays

by / Wednesday, 13 November 2013 / Published in Addiction Recovery, Treatment and Recovery

The end of the year is approaching. With that, comes a variety of holidays and celebrations that can sometimes leave us feeling stressed, even sad. Each person is different in how they feel during the holidays.

When striving to live alcohol & drug free, feelings play an important role in what people choose to do in the moment. Recovery is about learning to cope in healthy, alcohol-free and drug-free ways.

In early recovery, before a person is well-established in their program, they may experience intense feelings around the holidays. These intense feelings may include persistent cravings, loneliness, guilt, or boredom. For some, celebrations and parties pose a heightened risk of relapse. For others, it may be isolation that is the hardest thing to handle.

Treatment teaches that certain environments or situations can put an individual in sudden jeopardy of relapse if he or she find themselves around others who are using. If you are in such a situation, it is imperative that you leave immediately. Never linger around in a high risk situation. The temptation to use will only build.

Staying sober through the holidays takes a new plan of action that leaves little to chance. If you are in early recovery and aiming to have a sober year end, it will be important for you to think about your choices and to plan for how you will spend your time.

Addiction, as an illness, feeds on isolation and apathy. If you plan to be with others and have some safe places to go, chances are that your mind will be occupied and you will be surrounded by others who respect & support what you are trying to achieve with a new sober life.

If you are currently in treatment, please discuss your feelings about the holidays with your counselor, group, sponsor, and supports. Process, out loud, what you think may help you through the holidays. Seek the feedback of those you trust, and listen to others share what has worked for them in having a sober, drug-free holiday experience.

If you find yourself with no present supports, please consider attending a 12 Step meeting, community function, or church service. Sometimes we surprise ourselves when we take a positive risk and try something new. Note that ADS has links to local 12 Step meetings on the homepage of our website.

If you are in treatment or in personal recovery, you are hopefully proud of the commitment you have made to yourself to move forward. ADS truly values those who want a better life. Let this upcoming holiday be a safe one. Make a plan. Seek support. And no matter what, always come back.

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2 Responses to “Staying Sober During the Holidays”

  1. Tracy says :

    Great post, Max! I think this time of year is hard for many people (in recovery or not). We have a choice in how we approach it. We can grieve for the people we’ve lost or celebrate and honor their memory. We can focus on past mistakes or learn from them, grow, and move forward. Some of us loathe the endless gatherings. Others can’t wait to dress up, eat without remorse, and talk to friends and family, . If we take your advice and take a healthy risk, who knows what may happen. Planning ahead can be hard, but it’s totally worth it. This is exactly what I share with my teens: take healthy risks and have an exit plan!

  2. Great post. I remind my clients who are new to recovery to lower the social bar during the holidays until they have better strengthened their coping strategies and regained their ability to deal with more intense situations. For those who feel ready to brave the office holiday party, be prepared with coping mechanisms if you encounter triggers, and have an exit strategy if things get too intense.

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