The holiday season can be tough to navigate for someone in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction. Alcoholic drinks abound at just about every party, stress levels soar as our schedules become packed, and many times tensions rise as families spend more time together than they’re used to. This extra stress and temptation can drive us to seek comfort in drugs or alcohol. Being prepared to meet these challenges head on and knowing how to handle them can make all the difference when trying to avoid a relapse.
Here are our top 10 tips for surviving the holidays in recovery:
1. Whatever you do as part of you recovery plan, whether it’s 12-step meetings, a sober support group, or stopping in for your daily dose of methadone, keep doing it! Don’t let this busy time of year interrupt whatever it is that keeps you sober.
2. Just because there’s a party, doesn’t mean you have to go. If you think alcohol will be served or there will be other people there that might try to get you back to your old habits, respectfully decline the invite.
3. Drive yourself to any party you may go to. That way if you start to feel uncomfortable, you can easily leave.
4. If you can bring a guest to a party, try bringing a friend who is also in recovery so you can lean on each other for support.
5. Find a new way to say “no”. Prepare some responses in advance for when someone offers you alcohol. Try “I don’t drink anymore” or “I take medication that doesn’t mix well with alcohol”.
6. Avoid anything that may become a trigger, whether it’s a particular person, group of people, or even the location of a gathering. Steer clear! You simply do not have to go.
7. While you may feel the need to avoid certain people and parties, don’t alienate yourself entirely. Spend time with those who understand your challenges and won’t stress you out.
8. Suggest alternatives to the traditional holiday party, such as volunteering, hiking, or a gift exchange.
9. Keep it simple. Often times less is more and more stresses you out. Decide in advance what you can handle and don’t hesitate to ask family and friends for help.
10. Don’t forget that basics of taking care of yourself. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, eating well, and exercising. Taking care of yourself will reduce stress, give you energy, and put you in a positive mood so you’ll be better prepared to meet any challenges the holidays may toss your way.
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