We are approaching a big run of holidays. In rapid succession, we will experience Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas (or a number of other December holidays), and New Year’s Eve.
Many people find all of these holidays wholly delightful. Others like some more than others. And some people wish they didn’t have to deal with any of them at all.
But no matter how you feel about these late-year holidays, if you are a person in recovery from a substance use disorder, each has the potential to put your sobriety in danger. Let’s consider each holiday in turn.
Halloween: Too Much Sugar
There is a lot to like about Halloween. Costumes for children and adults, pumpkin carving, and, of course, trick or treating. Bringing home a haul of candy that people have given you just because you knocked on their door while disguised as a superhero or a witch or a what-have-you brings nothing but pure joy to many a child.
But if you are in recovery, all of that candy can pose a risk—and it isn’t that some evil mischief-maker has doctored the treats in some way. The risk is in the candy just the way it came out of the factory.
That risk is sugar.
Of course, we all know that sugar is not a health food and should be eaten in moderation. But it is also important to remember that the experience of a so-called “sugar rush” can mimic the experience of taking drugs. Eating too much sugar can remind your body and brain of the pleasure it used to get from taking drugs—and that is a dangerous step toward relapse.
So be thoughtful when you raid the kiddo’s Halloween stash. No amount of candy is worth risking your sobriety over.
Thanksgiving: Too Much Family Friction
It is amazing how a holiday built around gratitude and a delicious shared meal can be so difficult for so many people. Somehow, the holiday seems to bring out our worst impulses when it comes to badgering one another about politics, perceived slights, and huge helpings of family drama.
And all of that can be extremely difficult for a person in recovery to successfully navigate—especially if someone at the dinner table thinks your substance use disorder is a great topic for conversation. But even if your recovery never comes up, the general acrimony that often accompanies this holiday can cause anxiety and stress.
It is more than okay to have an escape plan if your family’s Thanksgiving gathering is doing you more harm than good. Avoiding an argument or a rehashing of old grievances is best for your ongoing sobriety.
Christmas: Too Much Everything
As challenging as Thanksgiving can be, Christmas can be even worse for a person in recovery. The reason? We tend to put so much pressure on ourselves to ensure that it really is “the most wonderful time of the year.” It is an almost impossible standard, and trying to meet it just provides opportunity for disappointment and stress that is hardly in keeping with a time of year we are told should be joyous from beginning to end.
Also, the pressure of gift giving can be a real strain on your budget, adding another layer of stress that can chip away at your resolve to stay sober.
The best approach is likely to set realistic expectations for the holiday season—and a manageable budget for gift giving. Doing so will support your sobriety.
New Year’s Eve: Too Much Alcohol
Alcohol, of course, is readily available year round—and in a wide variety of settings. But there is something about New Year’s Eve, as we ring out the old and ring in the new, that seems almost synonymous with drinking.
But a person in recovery does not want to end one year or begin another by giving up their hard-won sobriety, so it is essential that you choose your celebratory activities with care. That might mean avoiding the big parties in favor of a more intimate and alcohol-free affair. Getting together with friends and family who support your sobriety is a great option. When midnight rolls around, you want to be sure your sobriety is intact as you welcome another year.
Celebrate Getting Sober at Farley Center
When you are in the grips of a substance use disorder, it can feel as though there will never again be any reason to celebrate. But at Farley Center, in Williamsburg, VA, we can help you regain—and maintain—your sobriety via medically supervised detoxification, a robust rehabilitation program (that also addresses any co-occurring mental health disorders), and our commitment to a continuum of care that provides support and resources as your recovery journey gets underway.
Reclaiming your sobriety—and your life—is definitely worth celebrating. When you are ready to get started, we are ready to help.