The holidays are a notoriously stressful time for everyone, and especially so for people in early recovery from addiction. Many people relapse during or immediately before the holiday season—so it’s important to be extra cautious and friends and family should give them as much support as they can.
Be mindful of triggers and stay focused on your recovery. If you feel that the office party or the family Christmas will be too stressful, consider not going. Participation is not mandatory and your recovery comes first. It won’t help anybody if you attend such events out of a sense of obligation only to succumb to the stress and relapse.
If you do want to attend, be prepared. Consider staying only briefly, especially if alcoholic beverages are served. Research the availability of local meetings before you go. Consider going with a sober friend. Have the phone numbers of people who can support you handy. Have a plan and stick to it.
Don’t engage with people who warm up drinking stories from the good old days in college or the military, for example. One way to make sure you don’t end up holding a glass with an alcoholic drink is to bring your own beverage. Nobody but you needs to know it’s a sober drink if you don’t want them to know. If you don’t want to share that you’re in recovery, you could say you’re sober curious—it’s all the rage now.
It’s different with people who know about your substance use disorder. If you’re anxious about the impact your past behavior might have at the family dinner, turn it into an opportunity to make amends. Be of service but do not compromise your recovery. If you feel you have to leave and go to a meeting, then do it.
Remind people that you are sorry for the past but that you are in recovery now. It’s a great opportunity for honest communication. Don’t dwell on the past, though. Just try to move the healing process in the family forward instead. This won’t be easy at first as your loved ones need time to heal as well.
Be proud of your recovery. Focus on gratitude. Be grateful for your recovery. If you don’t feel safe participating in events where alcohol is consumed, stay away. Find alternative sober activities in your community.
If you are currently in active addiction but ready to go into recovery, don’t delay addiction treatment because of the holidays. If you fear a relapse don’t hesitate to reach out to your support network. If you relapse, don’t treat it like a one-time thing and ignore it. Seek help!
If you or a loved one suffer from addiction, the time to start recovery is now. Don’t hesitate to contact The Farley Center at Williamsburg Place at 800.582.6066 or fill out our admissions request form. Recovery is the best holiday gift!