It’s that time of year again. The holiday season in America can bring out some of the best and worst emotions in everyone. Recovering people and their families are often a complicated dynamic. There are people in many families that are in recovery. Families can and DO recover. But this may not be the case in your situation. How you choose to spend your holiday season, and who you spend it with, is 100% your decision.
Holidays Are Hard for Addicted People (& Families)
Holidays are supposed to be a time of joy, love, and acceptance. That’s what the countless tv commercials and shows seem to advertise. But don’t be fooled or feel bad if your personal situation looks nothing like what you see portrayed in the media. There’s no perfect family out there, and many people have circumstances that make the holiday season difficult to experience or enjoy.
Family is “supposed” to look a certain way if you pay attention to marketing messages. Those messages are just meant to sell things and rarely even reflect what everyday people look like and live. Your family is never going to be perfect, and it’s your choice how you react to that or choose to conduct your relationships.
You don’t have to spend time with people who have caused (or WILL cause) pain. There may be family members uncomfortable with you, too, if there is baggage from your addiction. Accept where you are at and focus on what you CAN do to enjoy yourself this holiday without the use of alcohol or drugs.
Identifying Your Needs
If your situation this holiday season is less than ideal, you have the power to change the way you celebrate it. This may mean making changes in who and where you celebrate this season.
If you want to avoid a hard-drinking family, you can always plan to have a separate dinner that’s more intimate with your parents and others who understand your struggles. If your family itself is toxic, find out about 12-step meetings and other events where sober people are gathering.
If you choose to spend your time with your family but worry about triggers or stressors, ask your sponsor to help you create an “escape” plan. Make sure that part of this plan includes a ride home or to a meeting. Even better, make your escape plans ahead of time and commit to helping out at the 12-step meeting or event when you get there.
Be gentle with yourself if you experience triggers, anxiety, or depression when you’re celebrating. Please remember that you’re not alone. Reach out to other people in your network if you need help. Text people, go to meetings, and try to relax when you can.
Staying sober is the most important goal in recovery. People who stay sober do it a day at a time. That means just for today, no matter what, you’re not picking up a drink or a drug.
Remember that getting drunk or high just causes you more problems and fixes nothing. Give yourself a chance and commit to stay sober no matter what this holiday season. Use the tools that have kept you sober, and reach out to others in recovery if you’re struggling.
Things to Do This Holiday Instead of Using Substances
- Help in the kitchen. There is always something that needs to be done. Wash dishes, shape cookies, and avoid the outside crowd.
- Set the table or vacuum when preparing for guests.
- Offer to look things up on your cell phone or help an older relative fix their new cellphone.
- Go outside and throw a football with somebody. Or, take a younger family member on a bike ride or to the beach.
- Help with Christmas tree set-up and decorations.
- Go to a movie with sober family or friends.
- If you are religious, attend service with loved ones.
- Go to a 12-step meeting or holiday event.
- Help mix a pitcher of alcohol-free drinks.
- Watch movies on Netflix or host a movie/tv show marathon.
- Take a long bath or shower.
- Meditate or take a short walk to gain mental clarity.
- Call your sponsor for more ideas.
Try Sober Living San Diego
Sober housing is an excellent way for people new to sobriety to learn to live life on life’s terms. Learn more about your options available in the San Diego area. In sober housing, you will meet people who are sober, working their 12-step programs, and rebuilding their lives in recovery. To learn more about what our programs offer, call us at 760-216-2077.