Staying Sober During the Holidays: A True Gift
As someone in recovery, whether brand new or years sober, you’ve got the most to celebrate during the holiday season. Don’t look at this joyous time of year as a negative because you won’t be drinking or taking substances. Look at it as a reason to celebrate your accomplishments. You decided to get clean and sober. Whether it was of your own volition or you were encouraged by loved ones, you did it. And isn’t that really what the holidays are all about? Being thankful, grateful, and appreciative for what we have and looking ahead to a new year and a clean slate.
There’s always this stigma of the holidays for people in recovery that almost makes it seem like this time of the year needs to be tiptoed around, but it doesn’t need to be that way. You’re not alone and you don’t need to go through the holidays, or any time of the year, thinking you don’t have people who are there for you. If you live far away from your immediate family, try to remember that your sober family is always waiting with open arms.
Plan Your Holidays
The holidays require planning and it’s no different for people in recovery. You want to be sure you’ve got a plan so you don’t find yourself with idle time where you could possibly get inside your own head. Where are you going to be spending Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chanukah, or whatever it is that you celebrate? Having a plan will prevent possible anxiety or stressing out when a particular holiday rolls around. If you live alone, plan to stay with a supportive friend on Christmas Eve so you don’t wake up alone on Christmas. If your family lives nearby, and they encourage your new recovery lifestyle, even better! Stay with them. No one should be alone on Christmas.
Find Meetings in Your Area
As mentioned before, if you’re not in close proximity to your immediate family, or you don’t have a friend’s house you can go to, there are always meetings available for you to attend.
Desiree, an Intake Specialist here at Lakeview and a person in recovery, is going on her fourth holiday season of recovery. She says every holiday season gets easier and easier the longer you stay clean. If you ever find yourself getting that feeling of wanting to use, her advice to you is to remember that “feelings are feelings and they pass, just like the holidays.” She’s a big fan of the marathon meetings during the holidays. “There are meetings 24 hours a day for seven days straight. You always have somewhere to go.”
Create New Traditions
Part of your new (or ongoing) recovery is having to change the way you live in most aspects of your life. This is especially true during the holidays. No more going to that bar down the street you used to frequent on Christmas Eve. Don’t even think about ringing in the New Year by getting high. You’re past that now and the best part is you get to start brand new sober traditions that you’ll actually remember. A lot of AA and NA support groups will have clean and sober potluck dinners for Thanksgiving as well as fun galas and balls where you can dress to the nines on New Year’s Eve. Just because you’re sober doesn’t mean all the fun is gone out of your life.
Live One Day at a Time
I know. I’m sure you’ve heard this phrase a million times throughout your recovery. But in all honesty, this applies to everyone, whether they’re in recovery or not, and it’s especially true during the holidays. This is such a chaotic time of year with so much going on, you just need to try and take it all in stride. If you’re having a particularly bad day during the holidays, try to reach out to someone in your family, or a close friend who is in need. Doing something selfless or helping someone out with a problem will get you out of your own head and focusing on other things rather than wanting to use.
Enjoy the Holidays
Don’t psyche yourself up. If you go into the holidays with a negative attitude you’re going to be doomed to have a hard time. Think positively about everything; your sobriety, friends, family, and life. And always remember you’re not alone and help is just a phone call away.