The holidays are tough for people in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction. We are right in the middle of what has been referred to as the “Bermuda Triangle” (aka Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years). It’s a time when the alcohol is flowing at parties and gatherings of friends and family. When most people are exhausted from the stresses of the season they relax with a glass of wine with dinner or maybe a scotch (neat) while they curl up with a good book. And for these people – the ones who have the ability to participate in healthy drinking patterns – this is okay. But what about us? What are we supposed to do to manage – to survive?
For people in recovery, the struggle is all too real. That’s why we put together this helpful blog post (complete with a cool free download below) that goes through all the ins and outs of being a person in recovery during the holiday season.
First of all, let’s talk about parties.
This is the time where you probably have a pile of invitations awaiting your RSVPs. This in itself is enough to give anyone a little anxiety but how to actually attend these parties without the comfort of alcohol or drugs – don’t even get us started. The fact is, it’s totally possible.
Additionally, these four tips will help you navigate any holiday party. Think of them as your sobriety tool belt. Like you’re a recovery superhero? Yes. Yes, you are.
A Strong Addiction Recovery Support System
Above all, one of the most important things to develop in sobriety is a good support system. This may encompass friends and family but also a list of emergency contacts that understand the challenges faced in sobriety, especially during holiday time. A few things to remember:
- Keep a phone list handy in a purse or wallet
- Even though others are busy during the holiday don’t let that be an excuse not to call when facing a possible relapse or when a listening ear is needed.
- No drama is as big as it seems in the moment and a decision may have to be thought about or slept on in order to take appropriate action
Don’t Drink Out of Cocktail/Wine/Champagne Glasses
When attending a party where alcohol is present don’t drink out of a wine glass. It might easily get mixed up with someone else’s glass and an accidental drink could be taken.
If the accidental drink happens, do not continue drinking. Call someone on the support list immediately and leave the situation where the drink happened. Do not take it too hard if an accidental drink happens, it can be chalked up to a learning experience.
Use These Parties to Practice Your Sober Social Skills
Sobriety will sometimes lead to anxiety but there is no reason not to anticipate an upcoming party for reasons other than drinking. A party is a perfect place to practice sober social skills and meet new people. A few things to bear in mind:
- Come up with a list of topics to talk about at parties
- Bring a sober friend or someone who will remain sober during the party
- Leave early if feeling uncomfortable
- Have plans after or a backup plan if one leaves early
Don’t Let Guilt or Stress Get The Best of You
The holidays can be extremely hectic. Tradition is a huge part of the holidays but you can’t let yourself to be guilted into situations where you may feel uncomfortable. It is not the end of the world to be selective with which events one can attend. It is a rational fear that if old obligations or traditions are not followed then one might not be included in other events or the same traditions next year. This might be so, but number one on the list should be sobriety. New traditions can be created if old ones are no longer healthy or end up being too stressful.
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