5 Tips to Help You Stay Sober During the Holidays
“My main focus in sobriety has been to replace fear with faith or love.” -Steve-O
The holiday season is upon us with Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas right around the corner. Holidays can be stressful for anyone with the looming responsibilities of hosting dinners, getting presents, and seeing people we haven’t seen in a while. For those of us in recovery, the holidays can invoke a lot of unexpected triggers, making it seem difficult to stay sober. No matter how much we love our family, sometimes they know exactly how to get under our skin. That being said, it is important to lay out a plan just in case you begin to fantasize about taking that first drink to calm your nerves.
1) Have a Relapse Prevention Plan in place
Usually, you hear about relapse prevention plans when you are leaving treatment. However, this tool is given to you to utilize throughout the rest of your life. Relapse prevention plans are a series of coping mechanisms and strategies for you to use in case you experience a situation that causes you to revert back to your old thinking. You plan ahead of time for the worst in order to have options in place – just in case.
If you are at Thanksgiving dinner and your Aunt is causing drama while on her 5th glass of alcohol, you may begin to feel the urge to drink. If you are readily armed with a relapse prevention plan, you can quickly subdue your cravings by calling sober support or even taking a minute alone to meditate or pray.
2) Practice self-care
The holidays may be about spending quality time with your family, but not at your own expense. Make self-care a priority by adhering to your usual schedules and routines, getting enough rest, allowing yourself some time alone to collect your thoughts, and do not be afraid to be assertive if something is making you uncomfortable.
It can be easy to fall into unhealthy patterns when you are surrounded by a family who doesn’t understand what measures you have to take in order to stay sober. Your family may not have to stay diligent in keeping up with things like meditation, taking personal inventory, and being mindful of their feelings. Always remember that just because their way works for them, that doesn’t mean it will work for you. Keeping in touch with your needs will allow you to stay proactive in your sobriety throughout the holidays.
3) Bring sober support with you
Bringing a sober friend with you to any holiday function is always a good idea if you are worried about staying sober. When you begin to feel overwhelmed, you already have someone there who fully understands and can lend you advice on how to get through any situation. If there are people drinking around you, your sober support can help to remind you that drinking is not a good idea. It is common for alcoholics to see a “normie” drinking and become envious of their ability to drink. Sometimes, we see someone drinking and begin to think that it would be okay “just this one time”. When we have those thoughts, it is vital that we talk about them with our sober peers.
If you can’t take sober support with you, have a designated sober friend that you can call if need be. Calling your sponsor, or someone from your fellowship is necessary when you begin to feel like you may want to drink. They can help you “play the tape back”, in order to remind you what it is like for you after you take that first drink. Staying connected in your fellowship is necessary for your recovery, especially during high-stress situations.
4) Go to a meeting
There are 12-step fellowship meetings going on every day, at almost anytime. During the holidays, many meetings make the decision to continue to hold meetings. This is in case someone does happen to become irritable, restless, or discontented due to the stressful nature of holidays and family gatherings. Meetings are incredible coping mechanisms when you are struggling to stay sober. Going to a meeting will allow you some time away from the source of your stress, let you connect with others who are going through the same issues, and help you regain your clarity.
5) Make it known that you are in recovery
When you are going to a family event for the holidays, it’s important to remember you are going out of your comfort zone. In order to create the best atmosphere for your trip, you should let people know that you are in recovery. Most people have a drink or two during their holiday break, so being proactive by making others aware that you do not drink is discerning. Make sure your friends and family know that it is okay for them to drink as they wish. You are just informing them so that your loved ones know not to offer you drinks and to help keep you accountable in your sobriety.
When everyone around you knows that you are in recovery, it is harder for you to begin to crave a drink. This is how accountability comes into play. You won’t be able to sneak in that first drink without your family and friends knowing that you are at the start of a relapse. Make sure to apply all of the preventative measures possible in order to stay sober, while allowing yourself to have sober fun. The holidays are a wonderful outlet to reconnect with family and friends, so you don’t want to miss out on it because there may be alcohol involved. Take initiative, be proactive, be honest, and have a great time!
Guest Writer Bio
Kailey Fitzgerald is a writer in the recovery community of South Florida. She has found her life’s purpose through working to break stigmas in relation to addiction and mental illness. In her free time, she enjoys making art.