As the weather cools down, many of us are starting to turn our attention to the holiday season. Your family may already be making plans for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Hanukkah, and your office may be organizing their holiday party. But if you’re recovering from addiction, this time of year can be incredibly difficult.
It is possible to stay sober through the holidays, but it’s a good idea to go into them with a plan. Read on to discover some of the best tips for staying sober this holiday season so you can continue living your best, brightest life.
Why the Holidays Are Risky
Before we dive into the things you can do to stay sober during holidays, let’s talk some about why this time of year is so risky. The holiday is stressful for everyone what with family tension, financial demands, tight schedules, and seasonal depression. For people recovering from addiction, that strain can become a trigger for a potential relapse.
The holidays also involve a noticeable uptick in substance use even for non-addicts. People drink at holiday parties, during family meals, at charity events, and so on. For someone trying to stay on the wagon, this constant exposure to a culture of indulgence and intoxication can be extraordinarily hard to manage.
HALT Your Triggers
Holiday parties can be fun, but they can also be jam-packed with relapse triggers. From your old friends who you used to party with to your Aunt Jenny who could make a monk swear, you can find a thousand and one reasons to fall off the wagon. One great way to stop these triggers in their tracks is to use the HALT method.
Check in with yourself throughout the party and look for signs that you’re feeling hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. Any of these emotions can leave you vulnerable and more likely to reach for a familiar comfort.
If you notice yourself feeling any of these things, politely excuse yourself for a few minutes to get a snack, take a breath, connect with a trusted friend, or take a nap. You may also want to leave the event at this point and go back to a safe space where you can recenter yourself.
Ask for Extra Support
Having plenty of support around you is critical during your sobriety journey, but especially during the holidays. Sponsors, trusted loved ones, and accountability partners can help to keep you motivated during moments of temptation. They can celebrate your victories with you and give you a reason not to give in to your addiction.
If you’re going to an event that may involve a lot of triggers, take a trusted friend or family member with you to provide moral support. Talk to them about your feelings throughout the holiday season and ask them to spend time with you in safe environments. Also, make plans to attend support group meetings so you can connect with others who are also on the path to recovery.
Use Party Props
When you’re at a party, it can be difficult to explain to everyone why you don’t have a drink in your hand. Some people, wanting to be good hosts, may try to push alcoholic beverages on you. And you might feel awkward being the only person standing around with their hands in their pockets, trying to avoid the bar.
Sidestep this problem by getting your party props together as soon as you hit the door of a holiday bash. Go get yourself a non-alcoholic drink, such as soda, sparkling water, or juice, and carry that as your party drink. No one will notice or care what’s in your cup, and you’ll avoid inadvertent drink pushers who might cause problems for your recovery.
Oftentimes, addiction can make you feel isolated, unworthy, and hopeless in your life. During the holiday season, these feelings may get worse, especially if you’re skipping out on events that could threaten your sobriety. One great way to break this funk and refocus on why you’re on this journey is to serve others.
Spend some time volunteering at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter or offer to help cook a meal for a local faith group. Collect money for charities, get involved in holiday gift donation drives, or organize a caroling group with your other sober friends. These activities will help you to connect with others around you and will improve your overall outlook on the world.
Prioritize Your Sobriety
During the holidays, you may feel like you have more “have tos” than you can manage sober. You have to go to your family Thanksgiving and you have to attend the office Christmas party. You have to go to your niece’s holiday theater production, and you have to visit your sister and your parents and your extended family around Christmas.
All of these commitments can start to wear on you and make it harder for you to stay sober. Remember that, at the end of the day, the only thing you have to do is take care of yourself. It’s okay to prioritize your sobriety above everything else this holiday season and tell your Aunt Mary that, no, you won’t be attending her New Year’s Eve party this year.
Stay Sober Through the Holidays
The holidays can be a time of joy and connection, but for those recovering from addictions, they can also be a time of tremendous temptation. Make your plan for coping with your triggers in advance, including HALTing them and asking for support from your loved ones. It’s also a good idea to spend some time serving others and to prioritize your sobriety above all this holiday season.
If you’d like to find more tips to stay sober during the holidays, check out the rest of our site at Cenikor. Our substance use disorder programs are available throughout Texas and have been helping people for more than fifty years. Get help today and take the first step on your path to recovery.