Addiction and the Holidays: Five Tips For Getting Through
Are you looking forward to the holiday season or dreading the coming weeks?
The holidays can be a time of celebrations and festivities, but if you are a recovering addict, the season can be challenging. Cocktails, parties, and family events can be tough to navigate when you are trying to stay clean, but you don’t need substances to get through the stressful times.
Family dynamics can also add pressure, as can visiting locations that may remind you of old times and habits. And if you are going it alone during the holidays, feelings of loneliness could also encourage you to reach for drugs or alcohol.
Here are five tips to help you navigate the holidays and ring in the New Year sober:
- Create a Plan. With the start of each day, recommit to your sober recovery. Make a plan for the day ahead that focuses on your sobriety. This may include planning your responses for expected situations such as your dear aunt Edna asking you why you’re not drinking or responding to an old friend who is pressuring you to party. Create a “script” so you aren’t caught off guard.
- Avoid Risky Situations. Assess events and situations as low, medium, or high risk for you and your recovery. Avoid high-risk scenarios whenever possible, and come up with a plan should you need to leave or mitigate the situation. Avoid situations that you know could trigger you or otherwise jeopardize your recovery plan.
- Get Support. Communicate honestly to your family, friends, and sponsor as to what you need and how you are feeling. Find a meeting in your area, and stay close to people who support you on your recovery journey and who want to see you succeed. Plan a gathering where alcohol and substances are not the main focus to remove the distraction and temptation.
- Practice Self Care. Make sure you take care of yourself, including getting enough sleep, healthy food, and time to yourself. To make sobriety your priority, you need to be vigilant and protect yourself mentally and physically to stay strong. Low blood sugar and dehydration can leave you irritable or more sensitive to stressful situations. You may also want to pack your own food and beverages if you will be attending other people’s homes to ensure you have what you need to be successful.
- Know Your Triggers. Be honest about the types of situations that make you want to reach for old habits. Remember that a craving only lasts about 20 minutes, so commit to distracting yourself, changing settings, or meditating until the craving subsides. Talk yourself out of acting on your urge and instead recommit to your recovery. Knowing what triggers you will help you avoid those situations while helping you build a plan to be successful.