The holidays are here, bringing love, laughter, and joy. But for those battling addiction and doing their best to follow an addiction treatment program, it can be quite challenging. Let’s talk about some ways to stay on track and how you can enjoy a sober holiday by using easy-to-follow sobriety tips.
Sobriety Tips You Can Practice this Holiday Season
For many people, the holidays are characterized by sights of snow, plenty of colorful lights, shining presents, and the delicious flavors of a home-cooked feast. But the holidays can also be a significant source of stress and concern; surveys show us that more people feel stressed out over the holiday season than not, and for people with a history of stress issues – including anxiety, depression, and substance use – the holiday blues can make it hard to stay positive, let alone focus on your mental and physical wellbeing.
If you’re in the middle of a long recovery process, then the holidays might be a personal pressure point, no matter if it’s your first sober holiday season or your tenth. Here are a eight sobriety tips to help you continue to focus on your sobriety and make it through to the next year for a fresher and better start.
1. Your Sobriety Comes First
The holidays are a time for giving, but we all need boundaries. If you usually find yourself compromising because of choices other people have made, it’s especially important this year to draw a line in the sand when it comes to your sobriety.
That means making sure that your home stays drug-free this year, including alcohol. Make a point of asking your friends and family members not to drink around you or to bring drinks. If you’re sensitive to the smell of alcohol or drunk behavior, you might even ask your loved ones to avoid drinking too much this time of year, even if it isn’t explicitly around you. Sobriety can be difficult, but it’s important to emphasize that you need support.
2. Keep a Sober Buddy Around
Have always at least one friend or family member with you to enforce your sobriety. You don’t need a living shadow for the rest of your life but try to ask a few friends to help you out in turns during a tough time like the holidays – especially if it’s a personally difficult time for you due to past experiences or bad memories. They will understand.
If you can’t find a volunteer, try asking around local support groups or emphasize only going out to meet up with others alongside someone to help you keep sober.
3. Cut Out Unsupportive Friends
Some people continue to drink, even if they have friends with alcohol use problems. For most people, that’s okay, as long as they don’t drink around their friends in a way that might be triggering or encouraging them to relapse.
But if you have friends that are actively hindering your recovery or encouraging you to drink or use again – regardless of whether they might be doing so voluntarily or involuntarily – consider making a clean break for your own sake. If they’re continuously jeopardizing your chance at a better and healthier life, they might not really be your friend, or they might have their own problems to contend with.
4. Have a Bail Out Plan
Sometimes, you just need to get out of a dangerous situation as quickly as possible. Sometimes, you might relapse – and need someone to get you home safely before you keep drinking under the pretense of “might as well.”
Ask your friends if they’ll be that someone for you, and keep them on speed dial. When you get scared, worried, or drunk, call them immediately to bail you out, and get you away from a trigger or volatile situation.
5. Find Something Else to Look Forward To
There are many things to look forward to in life that doesn’t involve alcohol. However, in the early stages of sobriety, it can be difficult to see that.
Use the holidays as an opportunity to find gratitude in non-alcoholic activities and aspects of life, whether it’s the ability to wake up and feel physically healthier at normal hours, being in better control of your body, feeling more physically and mentally self-aware, enjoying more time outside in nature, spending more quality time with your friends and loved ones (and being able to remember what you did together), or finally having the time and energy to pursue some of your other hobbies, especially over the holiday season.
6. Don’t Disrupt Your Recovery Schedule
The holidays are usually a bit of an exception for schedules – work ramps up or down, school is out, and sleeping schedules become irregular as people prepare for the holidays or go on long trips to see family.
But if you’re worried about your sobriety this year, continue to keep up with your sober responsibilities – including regular group meetings, one-on-one therapy sessions, and continued post-recovery mental support.
7. Focus on Gratitude in Sobriety
One of the best ways of focusing on the positive aspects of sobriety this winter is by paying it forward. Volunteer wherever you see fit – check out a nearby animal shelter, collect donations for a good cause, help at the soup kitchen, or work with the local fire brigade.
There are many ways to donate your time – and while good for the soul, volunteering is also excellent for the mind. Research tells us that spending our time and giving it to others can help us feel better, and what better way to explore the feeling of gratitude this year than by helping people in need?
8. It’s Not the End of the World
Finally, it’s important to acknowledge that if you do relapse, the most important thing is to get back into sobriety.
Many people build up their fear of relapsing to such a degree that when it does happen, they feel shattered – and the disappointment they feel for themselves turns back around into resentment and feeds their addiction. Don’t let that happen – take the misstep in stride, own your mistake, and get right back on track. Talk to your loved ones. Call your sponsor. Re-enter a treatment program. Contact a rehab facility.
Try to reframe the experience. Relapses are painful, but they offer us a better look at our greatest problems and weaknesses. Identify the path that led you here and learn from it. Use that information as you recommit to recovery and long-term sobriety, so you can make a better choice the next time.
Treating Addiction is Hard but Not Untreatable
Addiction is a difficult but treatable condition. However, it is only treatable if you choose to continue trying. Making that choice is hardest right after a relapse, but it gets easier with time, experience, and support from friends and loved ones.
Get Addiction Coaching and Consulting at Recovery Advocates
For more sobriety tips or information on addiction treatment consulting and coaching, contact us today.
Recovery Advocates is here to help each step of the way.