Celebrating The Holidays In Recovery
Many people in recovery from addiction have a bit of ambivalence about the holidays. After all, it’s good to be sober any day of the week. But the holidays are a time where people with a history of addiction typically struggle. Many people used to medicate heavily around this time of year. It was a way to avoid any guilt or feelings of trauma they dealt with in the past. Now that you are sober, the feelings may still manifest themselves from time to time. However, you don’t have to use substances to deal with those feelings. So how can you survive the holidays in recovery? Here are some great ideas.
Limit Your Time At Family Holiday Gatherings
If you are spending time with family and you feel uncomfortable, it’s a good idea to limit your time and give yourself an “out.” For example, you may want to arrive late, so you mostly eat the main meal, or you may want to arrive on time and leave after dinner. It’s up to you. However, if you feel uncomfortable, don’t agree to something that may upset you.
Make it a priority to check in with others in recovery if you go home for the holidays. There are often a lot of triggers that people have when it comes to family, even when the family is pretty functional. Addiction, after all, is a family disease. You may be in recovery, but not everyone is on the same page as you.
If you have somebody in the family who gives you grief, caused you physical or emotional harm, or who otherwise triggers painful memories, you don’t have to stick around. Instead, make sure you have an Uber app or a friend's phone number who can scoop you up if you feel like getting high or drinking. Your recovery is always more important than who you might “upset” by leaving a gathering early. After all, your life depends on staying sober.
Have a Friends Holiday Gathering, Instead
Some people may not have the family they want, but they spend time with their chosen family. In recovery, this is so important to understand; you don’t have to share your life with people you don’t want to. If you come from an abusive past, or have family members that always scold you or judge you, you can find an alternative to your traditional gatherings.
Many people in recovery have events that are open to others. For example, you may choose to go to a sponsor’s home or a special party or gathering. Or you may simply choose to go to a recovery group that hosts meetings during the holidays. It’s your choice, but it’s recommended that people in recovery don’t spend recovery stewing in old feelings alone.
You deserve to have a decent holiday; reach out to others if you’re not sure what plans you have. They can probably help you develop a plan for something healthy and friendly.
Interested In Sober Living?
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The holidays can be stressful for people in and out of recovery. Getting together with family can sometimes cause anxiety for newly sober people. There are a lot of potential triggers to deal with if it’s your first holiday in recovery. You may be seeing family or missing family. There will always be feelings to cope with.
Here are some ways to cope this holiday season:
- Reclaim your time. You don’t have to go to a family get-together all night. Stay for a few hours, and then give yourself time to do something for yourself. You’re not obligated to stay at any event until the end. Being in control of your own time is an excellent skill to practice.
- Plan to go to a 12-step meeting. There are often events for Christmas and New Year planned strategically to help people out who are struggling. Many cities with 12-step meetings will host “marathons” that have meetings back-to-back for 24 hours.
- Make a deal with your sober friends to check in with each other. If you’re feeling worried about triggers or emotions, let other people know ahead of time. Let sober friends you want them to check in on you, too. Texting at certain times and venting can help do wonders. You can also get advice if you’re feeling anxiety or anger. Make your network into a tight-knit group over the holidays.
- Speak with event hosts ahead of time to let them know you’re sober. If you expect there will be drinking or drug use at the party, ask them directly to keep alcohol away from the other drinks. Bring a two-liter of your favorite non-alcoholic beverage.
- Plan daily self-care. This may mean getting up earlier to meditate or go for a jog. Do what helps you feel safe and calm.
- Journal when you’re feeling angry or hurt. Holiday seasons, especially for people relatively new to sobriety, can bring up intense feelings. It’s not wise to get into heated discussions when attending family events. If something comes up, find a quiet spot to journal it out.
- Agree to disagree or speak later if sensitive discussions come up. You’re not the only one who may feel emotions this holiday season. If things get uncomfortable or intense during a discussion, ask the other party if the conversation can wait.
Staying sober during the holidays is essential. You’re not alone this holiday season. Reach out and go to meetings if you’re feeling lonely, angry, or scared. Many people have a tough time during the holiday months. You can get through it with the help of your support network and peers in recovery.
Sober Living is a Safe Place
Many people discover that they're not ready to confront the world alone after just thirty to sixty days of treatment. Are you interested in learning more about a safe, fun sober living environment? We offer a haven for the transition to a new life full of hope, progress, and camaraderie. Learn more about how a sober home can help you continue your journey in recovery by calling us at 760-216-2077.
For a myriad of reasons, the holidays can be a difficult time for people in recovery. Not only are there a lot of feelings that come up during this time of year, but there are also some temptations to cope with if you're invited to a get-together. Parties with alcohol or marijuana use are now common, and there may be some family relations left to repair. How is a sober person supposed to cope with all of the challenges?
Millions of people stay sober during the holidays. One of the best ways to cope with all of the drama, feelings, and stress is to have a plan. You should share it with others and write it down. Keep it with you on the most stressful days so you can refer back to it:
- Don’t go to parties where drinking and drug use are rampant. Alcohol and drug use is a trigger that may seem hard to avoid, but it’s important. Don’t go to cocktail parties or answer invitations with references to marijuana in them (such as 420).
- Pay attention to your triggers and acknowledge them. For example, have a plan for what you are going to do when you see somebody drinking or smoking. (Sit away from where drinks are served and avoid drug users.)
- Bring a sober friend if you can. You can leave together if temptation is too high for you.
- If you can’t bring a friend, do text message check-ins with a friend or your sponsor. Let them know if you’re struggling.
- Go to a 12-step meeting before (and after, if you’re stressed). You’ll have people to talk to and get out of your head.
- Practice explaining your sobriety to friends and family who aren’t aware of it. If you have family members who you want to share it with, it can be awkward at first, but it will probably come up.
- Have a plan to say “no thanks” to any drink offers. You can explain your sobriety – or not. You’re allowed to choose who to share it with.
- Try to have an attitude of gratitude. During the holidays, it can be difficult to center yourself in the here and now. Try keeping a gratitude list if you can.
- Meditate, use mindfulness, or reach out to your higher power however you see fit. If you can’t find a private place, you can always take a moment away in a bathroom.
Staying clean and sober during the holidays can be stressful for the first few years, but remember that if you’re recently clean, you have choices now. Don’t be afraid to choose to leave situations that make you feel uncomfortable. You also have the choice to reach out to your support network.
Sober Living Can Help
One thing that helps people in recovery stay on track is living with others who support their recovery. Sometimes that means you're better off living in sober housing until life is more stable. Being in a community of people working on themselves can help inspire you and support you as you chart a new path. Want to learn more about your options? Call us at 760-216-2077.