Staying sober can be particularly difficult during the holidays. Constantly being around family, parties with tons of alcohol and food and other kinds of social gatherings can be really stressful and even dangerous for someone who is in early in their recovery from addiction. It can bring up feelings of loneliness, guilt and sadness, usually riding on the back of painful memories of mistakes and loved ones lost.
It may seem impossible to get through the holidays sober, especially when many other people around you seem to be having fun by drinking and doing drugs. New Year’s Eve, Christmas and Thanksgiving are in the top 5 most popular drinking days of the year, according to a survey conducted by Yahoo. But there are things one can do to make the season easier and more enjoyable, whether you’re completing a stay at a center to undergo substance abuse treatment or spending it with friends and family!
Whatever your holiday season looks like, here are 10 helpful tips to stay in addiction recovery and have fun!
- Make sure you have each and every day of the holidays planned from the time you wake up to the time you go to bed. It’s usually best to spend time only with family and friends who know about and are supportive of your addiction recovery.
- Before you even arrive at your holiday destination, or a couple weeks beforehand if you’re not traveling, pick at least one addiction recovery meeting a day to attend. Usually groups have meetings and social gatherings during the holidays.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for support and understanding from family and friends. If someone close to you is pressuring you to drink or use drugs or even just engage in activities like gambling that can trigger cravings, have courage and tell them that they are making things more difficult for you and you need them to respect your new lifestyle.
- Make a list of 10 other people you know also in addiction recovery that you can call or meet up with during the holidays. This list could be your lifeline if you find yourself in a slippery situation. Stay connected with other people in sobriety!
- Absolutely stay away from your old drinking haunts. You may need to occasionally skip get-togethers if they are at bars or locations where you used to drink or use. If, for some reason, you must attend a gathering at an old “using spot” then make sure you have a sobriety buddy to attend the meeting with and keep you accountable.
- This is a particularly helpful practice: create new traditions to replace your old using patterns! Buy a board game you’ve never played, rent a movie you’ve never seen, or do something you’ve never done before like a sleigh ride or a walk through the park with some hot chocolate. Get creative!
- After you wake up and before you go to sleep, write out a daily gratitude with at least five things on it. If you’re feeling depressed or anxious and your sobriety seems in danger or just no fun, count your blessings and be grateful for the little daily miracles in a life of addiction recovery. Not to mention, research has proven that gratitude improves physical health, physiological health and self-esteem!
- Volunteer! There are likely many people both young and old who are less fortunate than you. Volunteering at a homeless shelter, orphanage or animal rescue is a great way to get out of your head and into your heart. It is scientifically proven that volunteering have greater functional ability and lower rates of depression and mortality.
- Remember to avoid H.A.L.T. (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired). This isn’t complicated but it’s not always easy, especially for those who have been steeped in addiction for a long time and have forgotten how to take care of themselves. If you’re hungry, eat! If you’re tired, sleep!
- Most importantly, take your life in addiction recovery one day at at a time and remember to enjoy yourself! Be in the moment, right where your feet are. The past can’t be changed and the future is forever uncertain. Enjoy who you are and what you have in this moment!
From all of us at New Life, we hope you have a safe, fun and, most of all, sober holiday season filled with happiness. Remember we are available 24 hours a day to assist with questions or concerns. Call us anytime at (855) 658-0035!