Holidays can often be a train wreck for those in recovery. Other family members may have addiction, old hurts and misdeeds get brought up and a lot of drug and alcohol use often occurs. This time of the year can be especially difficult for someone who is new to recovery, but no matter how long a person has been sober, having a recovery plan in place is necessary. There are many things one can do to strengthen their recovery plans during this time. Below are a few supportive and practical tips for maintaining sobriety throughout the holidays.
- Find Meetings and Attend – whether you are going to a new city or going or staying home for the holidays, finding local recovery meetings before you go is key. This will help you plan your day and fill any empty time where boredom may creep in. Surrounding yourself with others in recovery will increase your chance of staying sober. If you are in a new city, meetings will provide you with a group of people who you can rely on and call if needed throughout your holiday. Having this list beforehand may also be lifesaving in times when you may need to leave a party or situation in a hurry.
- Ask for help – do this before you attend the event or put yourself in any risky situation. It is best that you have this plan with someone who knows about your addiction and what your recovery entails. Some people like to have a safety word that if used means “I need to step outside or leave now”. This person needs to be reliable and ready to be there when you need them. Having this one person is beneficial especially if all of your family and/or friends aren’t aware of your situation. If this person is not able to attend the event with you, make sure that you are checking in with them throughout the event.
- Have a list – Have a list of 10 people that you can call that you know you can count on. These need to be people who understand recovery and addiction and can be there to provide support.
- Replace old traditions – use this time to replace old traditions like attending a friend’s party or going to a bar with a new healthy tradition. These may include things such as going on a walk, visiting a relative that you rarely see and enjoy spending time with, playing with nieces, nephews or friends children, going to a movie, etc.
- Go later, leave earlier – if there is a situation where you are unsure of, go later than usual. For example, if your family dinner starts at 2pm but you don’t eat until 6pm don’t arrive until 5:30pm. Same goes for after the meal, if people usually hang out and stay then leave.
- Live one day at a time – this is the motto for anyone in recovery: take everything one day, one minute, one second at a time and enjoy being sober and living in recovery.
- Daily gratitude – every morning when you wake up, do something positive for your recovery. This could be as simple as writing down 10 things that you are grateful for, reciting the serenity prayer, 10th step inventory, going to a meeting, sending a text or call to a sober friend, etc.
- Take a friend – Bringing another recovering person who has a solid recover along to family/friend events. Not only does this provide you with great company but also a great support system if an urge, craving or trigger does occur.
Although the holidays can be a stressful time for someone in recovery, they don’t have to be. With these seven tips, your holidays can be enjoyable, stress free and sober!!
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