The holiday season can be a joyful time, but for those who are in sobriety, it can also seem more like a minefield of danger, from booze-y holiday parties to the painful moments of nostalgia. High expectations, financial stress, over-committing and exhaustion can lead to intense emotions, mood swings and over-reactions. Not to mention the stress of traveling and holiday traffic! Luckily there are many ways to protect yourself and your sobriety, especially if you are fresh out of addiction treatment or considering going into a rehab center soon.
Grow and plan your support system ahead of the holiday madness.
This can be things like planning a 12-Step meeting or therapy session before a party, attending the event with a friend that’s also sober and making sure you can leave the occasion at any time and aren’t dependent on another person to take you home. That way if you get into a situation where you are tempted to drink or use, you can leave immediately. After the event you can also bookend it with a phone call to someone who you went through addiction treatment with or that you know is in recovery. Basically it’s important to limit the amount of time you spend in stressful situations and being around alcohol or drugs. Preventing relapse is all about recovery planning.
Focus on helping others.
Science has proven that helping others also helps you. The holidays are a perfect opportunity to help others less fortunate than you and cultivate gratitude and peace. Volunteering and feeling grateful can take immense courage, but because you are in sobriety and/or have gone through substance abuse treatment, you have already shown that you have incredible courage. Look for ways to think about and help others over the next few months at least. It doesn’t have to be extravagant. Serve a meal at a homeless shelter, talk to a friend in sobriety or help out a neighbor in need.
Remember thorough and proper self-care practices.
Avoid becoming hungry, angry, lonely or tired (H.A.L.T.), especially during the holidays. A great way to celebrate the holiday season is to not only help others, but to help yourself as well by taking good care of your physical, mental and emotional needs. Eat good food, get plenty of rest, spend time with your friends and family and make time for spiritual or relaxing practices that will help you to stay calm.
Avoid vulnerable or dangerous situations.
If you know that certain family members are likely to upset you or pressure you to drink or use, there’s a simple solution: avoid them. If you know your office holiday party is going to be all about getting blacked out drunk and maybe even using other drugs, don’t go or make a very brief appearance. It isn’t realistic for someone in sobriety, especially for someone new in sobriety, to think that you can “soldier through.” Take care of yourself and don’t be afraid to ask for help. It can be difficult, nearly impossible, to stay sober alone. The good thing is, you don’t have to be alone!
If you need substance abuse treatment, consider spending the holidays here at Restore. Spending this season in treatment can actually be a great idea to establish a strong recovery base. Our patients tell us that they leave Restore LA feeling better than they have in years, and they are also ready to take the next step in their lives. We have all of the tools needed to provide you or your loved one with a safe, warm, comfortable and successful time.