You know what you hear a lot in addition recovery circles around November every year? You hear about holiday parties, family triggers, mental health, coping mechanisms, and on and on and on. We get it, staying sober this holiday season is going to be tough, whether it’s your first holiday season in sobriety or your 10th, the story stays the same: survive the holidays at all costs.
What’s with all the doom and gloom? Are we entering The Hunger Games? Are we going to get picked off one by one and make that whistling sounds and three finger salute? Can we enjoy sober holidays while taking them seriously? We think so.
Of course, If you have already attended an addiction recovery program, then it is important to remind yourself how bad things were and remain fully aware that the holidays can be a huge stressor for a recovering addict. With the holidays comes the holiday blues, which is a period of emotional highs and lows. Although these blues can trigger a relapse, they can also be prevented ahead of time with proper planning.
With that in mind, we want to talk about how to stay sober through the holidays while enjoying every minute of it. We can’t let all the normies have all the fun. Here are some tips from Treatment Alternatives for staying sober this holiday season:
Have Some Damn Fun
Before we get into all the tips to stay sober through the holidays and talk about holiday parties, and triggers and support and family, let’s start with the fun stuff.
Take Advantage of The Cold Weather. Take a moment to enjoy the cold weather, the hot cocoa, and the cozy feeling you get when you get into a freshly made bed. Take every opportunity you can to make a really great cup of coffee and savor every sip.
Remember Your Hobbies. Come on! You have all this free time, you’re not hung over, the holiday energy vibes are out in full force, it’s time to get busy having fun. It won’t just come to you, you have to go get it. Get a hobby, start one up again, try something new.
During the holidays, it is a good idea to increase your support system. Reach out to your sponsor, counselor, and support group as much as necessary. Continue to talk about your feelings and whether or not you are experiencing any cravings or urges to use alcohol or drugs.
Continue going to your meetings. Especially if you are traveling, a surefire way to stay sober during the holidays is to continue your usual routine by locating and attending meetings in your area. You can find an AA meeting, or find a NA meeting near you if you are out of range from your usual meeting locations.
Ask for help. If you are having trouble and beginning to feel vulnerable, do not hesitate to ask for help. If you are already foreseeing yourself worrying about how to stay sober during the holidays, have your sponsor drop you off to the places you need to go, and constantly keep in touch with them via cellphone. Don’t be a dufus, ask for help if you need it. Sober holidays are a group effort dummy.
Plan your days accordingly. You will want to see old friends during the holidays; however, these friends could be triggers to relapse. Your New Jersey drug rehabilitation center encourages you to make a valiant effort to spend most of your time with friends and family who are supportive of your recovery.
Stay away from trigger zones. There is no reason to go to the old bar that you used to hang out at. Avoid places that may be triggering.
Make a plan for staying sober at parties. It is essential you know and rehearse exactly what to say when someone asks if you want a drink. Make sure to always carry a non-alcoholic beverage in your hand so there will be no excuse for not having something in your hand. Serve yourself when you are thirsty. It is important to make sure you are not putting yourself at risk for someone giving you something alcoholic or something that is drugged.
Don’t shut the world off and expect to have sober holidays, it’s just not going to work. You are going to deal with lots of holiday triggers, removing yourself won’t work. HOWEVER, you should remember to be selfish at certain times.
Focus on Your Recovery. Spend the holidays with people who are also in addiction recovery. Gather a few of your friends from your support group and go do sober, fun activities. Avoid any people or places where there may be alcohol or drugs present. Remember that addiction recovery is about finding yourself, and that means trying new things that will make you happy while remaining sober. You might ask, “How is this selfish” its selfish because you’ll have to tell others that you can’t join them, you’ll have to cancel some plans to hang out with your sober group of friends.
Take Care of Yourself First. You should always put yourself and your recovery first, every day, and in everything that you do. Your loved ones will understand and respect your decision and support you, no matter what. If someone or something is trying to come between you and your recovery, then you need to walk away from it. Staying sober this holiday season is easy when you think about your needs first.
Be Healthy: Exercise and Meditate. Daily exercise is a great tool to use during addiction recovery. It helps clear your mind and ensures that your body and brain are healthy. Meditation is also a great way to collect your thoughts and stay on track on your road to recovery.
Write a letter to your future self. Writing ideas on paper is more powerful than you may think. Write to your future self in past-tense form, congratulating yourself for staying so strong and continuing on your safe, healthy, and sober track. Your New Jersey drug rehabilitation center suggests you write down all of the activities that will allow you to keep happy while staying sober.
Exercise. Exercise is a valuable element in all types of recovery programs. If you begin thinking about cravings, exercise is great way to stay sober during the holidays because it releases endorphins and allows you to focus on something other than your cravings.
Don’t Get Overwhelmed
All the events, parties, crowds, and shopping can be a bit of an overload on the newly-sharpened senses of a former addict. The overwhelming feeling can push toward a relapse to cope, but the drug addiction treatment center at Treatment Alternatives has safe suggestions on how to cope with a holiday sensory overload.
In our drug addiction treatment and recovery programs, we encourage recovering addicts to be mindful of their senses. If you begin to feel overwhelmed or feel a bit “off”, ask yourself why. It could be the bright lights, the loud music, and the smell of smoke and alcohol at Christmas parties that make you feel on edge.
Here are ways on how you can cope with holiday sensory overload:
- Take a break – If you are feeling overwhelmed, give yourself at least ten minutes of sensory depletion a few times a day. This means no sound, light, or movement. Just relax and take a break.
- Try supplements like magnesium to assist in dealing with stressful feelings.
- Try shopping alternatives such as online shopping, or avoiding heavily-crowded malls or cities.
- Find an outlet – Try to exercise, do yoga, or write in a journal when you are feeling overwhelmed.
- Remember that it is okay to say no sometimes. If you are feeling overwhelmed, you do not have to go to every holiday party that you are invited to. For the sake of your health, follow the advice of your drug addiction treatment center, just say no, and relax.
Remember to stay motivated during the holidays as well. You can stay sober through the holidays and enjoy it. Use these coping mechanisms and remember to relax every now and then. Give yourself permission to have fun. And if all else fails, read some great books that we recommend to people in recovery.
On behalf of Treatment Alternatives, we wish you and your family a very happy and healthy holiday season! Remember that our Addiction Hotline is open 24/7, at 877-957-5113 for anything that you may need