Fri. Jul 1st, 2022

Relapse Prevention: Staying Sober During The Holidays

Want to know how to stay sober during the holidays? This is not going to be one of those articles that tells you to plan out every minute of every day and make yourself accountable for all of your time.

That’s not realistic.

We all have unforeseen things that occur and feelings that seem to well up out of nowhere during the holidays. Part of it stems from the nostalgia of the season. Many of us envision the holidays as a time of family-togetherness. We might be missing what we used to have or maybe we’re longing for something we wish we had.

A feeling of belonging.
People who care.
Faithful friends.
A safe place to lay our head down at night.

These are basic human needs and during the holidays we can feel especially alone if they are missing from our life.
Numbing the emptiness can seem like a quick solution, or at least a temporary relief.
Relapse numbers during the holiday season are high, but you can remain sober during the holidays.
What can you do that will actually work?

Remain Sober During the Holidays

Relapse Prevention Checklist

    • Give  –  It’s easy to get caught up in negative emotions when we aren’t busy serving others. There’s something about being selfless and giving of our time and resources that changes the way we think about the world and about our situation. You can reach out to others struggling with addiction, sign up to answer a suicide prevention hotline, volunteer at your local soup kitchen, deliver Meals on Wheels. The possibilities are endless, and everything you do doesn’t have to be recovery related. Just reach out to people in need. It will immediately make your heart happy.


    • Get Out There – Isolation is just about the worst thing you can do. Almost everyone who relapses admits to sinking into isolation. Protect yourself and remain sober during the holidays by going to whatever lengths are necessary to stay clean. Stay with sober friends or family, plan a sleepover, go on a mini-camping trip, get involved in some outdoor activities or classes at your local gym. Do whatever it takes to interact with others in a positive way.


    • Don’t Focus on the Substance – You might end up being around people who are drinking during the holidays. You don’t have to panic. Focusing on “not being around alcohol” will put you in a weak mental state. No, I’m not telling you to run out to the bar, but you’re going to have to realize that other people do drink, and unless you put yourself in a plastic bubble, you’ll probably run into someone who has a drink in their hand this holiday season. Sobriety is your choice, just like any other healthy life choice you will make for yourself. If you think about it as YOUR decision, it’s empowering. Look at it this way, if you had an allergic reaction to peanuts, you wouldn’t expect everyone else to stop eating them. If something isn’t healthy for you, it doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing, and their choices don’t have to be a point of temptation for you.


    • Forgive – Is there someone in your life you’re holding a grudge against? Are you still upset that your dad was never around on Christmas morning? Are you resentful toward that person who promised to always be loyal, just before they disappeared out of your life? There’s something about forgiveness that really sets us free from inner turmoil, and for many, it sets us free from the obsession to drink or use drugs.
      Don’t ask me how it works.
      Don’t ask me why it works.
      All I know for sure is that it DOES work.
      Johns Hopkins hospital has some excellent research on the topic of forgiveness. The actual word forgiveness stems from the root word that means “to throw off.” Forgiving someone is throwing off a heavy weight. It’s a type of freedom.


  • Spiritual Connection – Your spiritual connection is an important part of your recovery journey. A relationship with your Creator gives you something much bigger than yourself to rely on for help, guidance and to remove the obsession to use drugs or alcohol. Your Creator is the Solution to heal and fill the empty or damaged places internally. Maybe you’ve never opened yourself up to the possibility of a Higher Power. Today is a good day to start.


The holidays are difficult for many people, but when you prepare ahead of time and use all of the recovery tools, you can get through the season, relapse free.


by Robin Bright

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