The holidays are known for being a time of merriment when people can count on enjoying spending time with their family and friends. While there are many good things about the season to appreciate, you’ll also find that the holidays can bring some challenges for people in recovery. The issues that arise with the holidays and recovery can come from a variety of sources. On top of alcohol being prevalent at many social events, you might also find yourself coming face-to-face with a few stressful people or situations. Planning for what’s to come can help you enjoy the holidays in recovery while staying sober.
Change How You Think About Holidays In Recovery
Like with anything in life, a positive attitude goes a long way towards helping you manage your feelings about the holidays and addiction. Try to look at the holidays as a chance to draw closer to your support system and view each challenge as an opportunity to practice your new coping skills. While running into that annoying relative might temporarily make your muscles tense, you can choose to walk away and take a few deep breaths.
This is also a great time to think about how your preconceptions or past experiences could impact your sobriety. If you find yourself replaying past negative holiday interactions in your mind or rehearsing what you’ll say to someone’s rude comment, reach out to your counselor. They can help you see if you might be working yourself up over something that no longer affects your life. Other people may have changed or are as stressed out as you are, and changing your perspective can smooth your interactions all around.
Find Out How Others Manage Holidays and Addiction Recovery
You’re not the only person who has had to figure out how to enjoy the holidays in recovery. In your sober support network, you’ve likely got a few people in your life who have made it through at least one major holiday during their recovery. Ask around to find out what the people in your sober living home are planning to do. You might be able to take part in some fun activities that don’t involve drugs or alcohol. You also might have a sober sponsor who’s willing to accompany you to a potentially stressful family event.
Be Willing to Discuss Your Challenges With Recovery During the Holidays
One problem that people tend to encounter with holidays in recovery is that the closest people in their life might not know how to support them. While someone who doesn’t know about your recovery might accidentally offer you a drink, you should expect your closest friends and family members to avoid trying to tempt you into having just one. Letting your loved ones know how they can be supportive goes a long way towards helping you avoid even having to worry about having one of those awkward social moments.
Identify Your Potential Holiday Triggers
During your addiction treatment, you’ve likely learned a lot about your common triggers and the best ways to manage them. Now, the holidays may bring a few more to the surface. Here are a few of the most common holiday triggers you’ll run into. Thinking about how you’ll handle each one gives you a better chance of emerging from the holidays unscathed.
- Dealing with changes to your routine that disrupt your eating, exercise, and sleeping schedules
- Running into people that bring up painful emotions
- Remembering a past loss that occurred around this time of year
- Having financial struggles
- Being at events with a steady flow of alcohol or drugs
Put Together a Holiday Relapse Prevention Plan
Now is a great time to take a good look at your current relapse prevention plan to see where you might be able to add a few things to help you make it through the holidays. You’ll want to continue to follow the basics, such as making sure that you don’t get too hungry, angry, lonely, or tired as the season hits full swing. You might also add these ideas to your list.
- Try a new activity
- Be selective about which activities you agree to do
- Do something nice for someone
- Plan a few exit strategies, such as setting the stage by saying you can’t stay long
- Renew your efforts to keep a gratitude journal
- Practice what to say when you run into people you haven’t seen for awhile
- Identify safe people to hang out with or call when you get overwhelmed
Your recovery during the holidays doesn’t have to be put at risk by stress or social events. With a strong relapse prevention plan, you can turn this holiday into the best one ever. Not only can you enjoy showing up to events with a clear mind and the ability to remember what happened in the morning, but you can also use this time to grow stronger in your sobriety.
As the season revs up, make sure to check in with yourself and talk to your sober living group. From roasting marshmallows over the fire pit with your new best friends to baking cookies, you can even start a few new traditions that help you get excited about kicking off the new year.
Addiction Treatment at the Momentum Recovery
At Momentum Recovery, we understand that completing an addiction treatment program is the first step towards a meaningful life free of addiction. We also understand that most individuals need additional recovery support, so our team is here to help you maintain forward progress. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, contact us today.