The holiday season often brings many temptations and social pressures to individuals in recovery. The added pressure to drink is a bad combination which brings unpleasant memories that makes the holidays extra challenging. Although it can be difficult to manage the stress brought on by situations that can derail the efforts to maintain sobriety, having a plan can help you through.
Below are a few suggestions that can help you safeguard your recovery during the holiday season. They have traditionally helped many individuals in recovery and might be useful to you too.
Attending twelve step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), Al-Anon and Nar-Anon can consistently provide the support needed during the holidays when the risk of relapse is high. While AA and NA help those who want to get or stay sober and clean, Al-Anon and Nar-Anon can provide support to the family and friends of recovering individuals as well. Contact each organization for additional information on “marathon meetings” that run 24 hours during major holidays.
When you can't go to meetings recovery podcasts can supplement - but not replace meetings. These podcasts can make you feel instantly contented to your program and give you a boost when you're starting to sink emotionally. Check out iTunes for a variety of recovery podcasts.
Your sponsor is like your own private mentor. They walk you through the 12 steps and give individualized support when you most need. They are your lifeline of accountability. Sponsors reinforce your recovery - they help to stay true to the principles of honesty, humility, powerlessness and surrender.
If holidays are difficult for you, working the steps can promote healing about past hurts. For instance by writing a mini fourth step for difficult situations can help you getting started. Here's a list of suggestions to consider:
Writing everything out on paper helps safeguard your recovery. Often, "journaling" provokes old emotions that have been buried. It's like an emotional cleanse before heading into the holidays.
If you’ve experienced relapsed before, write out what happened that may have contributed to it. You can always learn from a slip if you’re willing to analyze what went wrong. That way the slip can help you avoid the same situation again.
Next, make a list of triggers you to want to avoid. Here are some common relapse triggers:
Just because you've always attended certain events or took part in particular activities it does not mean you are obligated to continue in doing so. Recovery is all about making choices that will not put you at risk of relapsing. So, yes! Your recovery comes first.
The lesson here is not to avoid family events but just to pick and choose them wisely. By now you should know how to recognize high risk situations and plan accordingly. To prepare yourself for those risks you can also write a list of the holiday events that trigger the desire to use.
Remember, it is all in the planning and sticking to the plan. Just because you are in recovery it does not mean you should not have fun. In town or out of town, getting yourself grounded and connected with your sober fun activities will give you a sense of relief that no substance can offer you. And if a slip happens it does not mean failure or that treatment has failed. Everybody knows that it takes time to overcome the obstacles faced during addiction recovery and make positive changes that stick. Failures are only resets that can be part of the overall success.
Florida Center for Recovery
Clinical Excellence & Compassionate Care in a Healing Environment