Protect Your Recovery: 4 Tips on Staying Sober Over the Holidays
Authored by Audra Franchini
The holidays can be tough for those just out of alcohol and drug rehab. There may be parties for hosting and marshmallows for toasting, but the holidays can be a hardship for those in recovery. The stress of traveling, shopping, finances, expectations, or even a trip down memory lane can tempt people into relapsing.
Don’t risk your recovery. Start preparing yourself now.
Here’s how to stay sober during the holidays as you continue your recovery journey.
Steps Towards a Healthy and Happy Holiday
- Have a plan ready to go. As you likely know, part of recovery means narrowing down who, what or where could trigger relapse. Acknowledge those factors are in your life, identify what or who they are, and plan accordingly. During this trying season, you’ll need to protect your sobriety – and the best way to do just that is with a solid plan. This could be anything from going to a meeting before or after an event or bringing your sponsor with you to your event.And remember the BYOC trick: Bring Your Own Car. You don’t want to have to count on someone else for transportation. When you want (or need) to leave, you have to have the freedom of your own car.Also, ask someone in recovery to be available for phone calls in case you need to talk something out. You’re away from your usual routine and support system, so use technology to your advantage.
- Help yourself by helping others. Is there any greater feeling than giving back? The feeling of joy and thankfulness is contagious around the holidays. And if there’s one thing recovery has taught us, it’s that being with others can help us on our journey. Reach out to a local shelter or soup kitchen to see if they need some help around the holidays. Have a loved one or neighbor who can’t get around easily? Offer to help decorate for the holidays or watch a festive movie with them. You’ll be amazed at how much giving back can support your recovery. It’ll sustain your strength and courage.
- Recognize the risks. We all have those family members – the cousin who loves to interrogate you about rehab, the aunt who doesn’t understand what “no alcohol” means as she tries to hand you a glass of wine, the uncle who pressures everyone to drink.Here’s a secret not everyone knows: You don’t have to be around these people. Avoid them. The same can be said for events. If everyone gets wasted at the office party, only stop in for a few minutes in the very beginning or don’t go at all. You need to put yourself and your sobriety first, always. People who love you and want the best for you will respect that. Anyone else can go deck the halls.
- Take time for yourself. One of the best things you can do is take time for yourself, so you’re your healthiest self. Make time to mediate, get extra sleep, cook healthy meals – whatever strengthens your mental and physical health. Don’t forget to feed your soul and spirit. The more time you spend on your physical and mental well-being, the better equipped you’ll be to handle any roadblocks that may pop up.
Stay on Track – You Can Do This!
Whether you’re fresh out of a treatment program or years into your recovery, it can feel like you’re walking on thin ice from Thanksgiving to January. Just remember what the holidays really mean: a chance to share, heal, and rebuild bonds with your friends and family. Stay focused on the positive, stay committed and be honest with yourself and your loved ones.
Article by Dr. Deni Carise, Chief Scientific Officer at Recovery Centers of America