Addiction recovery can be particularly difficult during the holidays.
For each of us, this time of year presents different obstacles each of us have to face. Which completely takes the excitement and fun out of the holidays, doesn’t it?
We have to remember where we are at now in this point in time.
We’re sober, we’re working our program, we’re mending relationships. Therefore, our recovery process during the holidays can infuse fear into the fun.
These stresses may include parties and old friends, facing family members we may have damaged relationships with, or simply feeling alone this time of year.
Perhaps it’s simply the stress from money. Between gifts and travel expenses, the stress may have given you thoughts of relapse during addiction recovery.
Here a few simple tips to get you through your particular struggle this holiday season.
Staying Sober at Holiday Parties
With Christmas, comes Christmas parties! It is simply a part of the celebrations.
Perhaps this year you have a few parties you were invited to, and you are a bit worried about this.
Whether this be with new friends, old friends, or family, there is definitely a challenge.
So before accepting any party invites this year, answer these questions:
- “Are alcohol-free drinks available?”
- “Will there be any other non-drinkers there?”
- “Will party-goers be engaging in games or activities?”
- “Would this group of people still be gathering if alcohol was not a part of the party?”
- “Will anyone be there who could potentially sabotage my sobriety?”
You’re a changed, sober person now! You have to make decisions now based on your health and addiction recovery- and sometimes it isn’t easy.
While sometimes we may really want to attend a certain kind of party, we probably know deep down it is not a good idea.
This may be because of the person you’d be going with, perhaps an old friend associated with your past.
Or perhaps it is because there will be substance influences there to threaten your recovery.
Regardless of the reason, make a mental pros and cons list.
Parties can be a trigger during addiction recovery, so use your moral compass to decide if that party is a good idea or not.
Facing Old Friends
One of the most challenging triggers we face in addiction recovery during the holidays is seeing old friends again.
Certain friends or family members that perhaps we used with or drank with, can cause triggers for us. It doesn’t necessarily even have to be someone we used with, but rather, someone who was largely apart of our loves during our addiction.
Both can cause triggers and remind us of another time.
Your most important job during addiction recovery is making the right choices. For you and your sobriety.
Especially fresh out of treatment, old friends may reach out and contact us. And perhaps these friends are not sober themselves.
It is a ridiculously hard decision to make, choosing not to be involved with these friends anymore.
They may impair your recovery, and can be toxic to your sobriety. And even though we love them, we typically associate them with our substance abuse, because that is where they were most prominent in our lives.
You can chose to either avoid your friends, stay friend but at a very vast distance, or simply let them know that you are working on your recovery right now and you need to focus only on that. Honesty is the key.
Facing The Family
For some of us, facing family for the first time during addiction recovery often happens during the holidays. There may be relationships we haven’t quite repaired yet, judgement, nonacceptance and rejection.
For many, this can be the most substantial challenge of the holidays.
What do you say? How do you begin to apologize? How can you fix it?
Well, isn’t this a sticky situation!
You have a few options here to deal with this situation appropriately:
Chat with those family members prior to the holiday gathering. Having an intimate conversation with a loved one, asking for forgiveness, and repairing that relationship is a great place to start.
This gives them a chance to accept your apology, and therefore avoid awkwardness at the gathering.
However, if they chose not to forgive you, this presents a whole other challenge.
If you are expecting to face some backlash or rejection going in to a family gathering, you will need to mentally prepare.
Remember to maintain your cool. In those types of situations, it is easy to react too quickly, get angry, and say things that may only make it worse.
If you find yourself ready to implode on a family member, simply remove yourself from the situation. Step outside and practice your breathing.
If you feel that you owe this person an apology, try asking them to talk in private.
Should you feel inclined, you could kindly confront them right then and there.
Simply apologize and ask for cordiality at this holiday gathering.
Managing Stress and Anxiety During The Holidays
As we near Christmas, often the stress from family, money, parties, traveling, etc., can take a toll on our addiction recovery or our mental health.
We all want to enjoy Christmas, right?!
Stress and anxiety can be more easily reigned in during addiction recovery, with a stable schedule and plan.
Whatever the cause of your anxiety this year, having a strategic plan in place can certainly help.
You can make lists for anything: a list of present ideas, a list of all the things to pack for traveling, a list for what to bring over to mom’s house for the holiday dinner.
Making lists for what you need and what needs to be done for a certain event, will help organize your thoughts and put your anxiety in check.
With your lists, you can begin preparing and anticipating what needs to get done. Rather than running around, trying to remember what you needed, or forgetting to pack something for your travels.
Perhaps your stress is a result of some of the factors mentioned above: parties, old friends, family, etc.
Making a list and a plan for those situations will help. Picking, choosing, and planning what parties to attend will also be beneficial.
Make a schedule if you will. What days and times certain parties and gathering are, and how long you intend to stay.