Between Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year, there are a lot of potential triggers for someone trying to stay sober during the holidays. Even though this season tends to be joyous, it can also be a time of stress and overindulgence. As someone in recovery, it’s important to prepare for the holidays in a way that makes you less susceptible to the temptations you may face. Here’s what anyone suffering from addiction should know about staying sober during the holidays.
You may be inclined to slack off on your self-care routine during the holiday season, but this is actually an important time to go all out. Getting your mind and body right is key to staying on track, especially for someone in recovery. Regular exercise, enough sleep, and healthy eating are great ways to make sure you’re feeling your best and are focused on staying sober during a season full of stressors.
Whether it’s a sponsor, family member, or friend, it’s important to have a sober companion during the holidays who understands your journey and can hold you accountable. Attending gatherings will be easier when you’re accompanied by someone with the same goal in mind (staying sober). If your sober buddy is unable to physically join you, try calling them before, after, or even during the party to discuss your successes or concerns.
Here’s the thing: holiday gatherings are not an obligation, and you can pick and choose which to attend. It’s important to not socially isolate yourself from family and friends, but it’s even more important to prioritize staying sober. A good rule of thumb is to show up on time and leave early. You’ll have plenty of time to socialize, and can head out before any alcoholic beverages start creeping their way into your comfort zone.
If you want to be fully present at the gatherings you’ve been invited to, it’s important to remember that people who host holiday parties typically supply alcohol. It may be a good idea in these types of social situations to bring your own non-alcoholic beverage. This way, if you are offered a drink (potentially alcoholic) you can easily decline the offer by saying you’re already sipping on your beverage of choice. Though you should never feel ashamed to talk about why you’re staying sober, this is an easy yet effective way to avoid any pressure during the holidays to socially consume.
Sometimes the best thing you can do is talk it out and surround yourself with people who can empathize with your recovery. If you’re already part of a support group, this is the time of year to attend those extra meetings. If you’re not in a group yet, reach out to those in your support system and utilize resources like SAMHSA to find meetings near you. Specifically during the holidays, many organizations open up extra meeting times to compensate for the difficulties many face this time of year.
For someone in recovery, especially during the holidays, it’s important to have a game plan. Staying sober is what matters most, and focusing on that goal is key to making this season what it should be; a time that inspires peace and gratitude.