The holidays can be a stressful time for anyone, but doubly so if you are recovering from an addiction. The busiest party season of the year is from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve, and you seem to be faced with two choices: stay home and become a holiday hermit, or face temptation at every turn.
You can survive the holidays sober if you put your mind to it and think ahead. To help you prepare, check out this list of 10 things you can do to get through typical holiday hazards.
- Plan ahead. Let your host or hostess know that you are in recovery so they can have non-alcoholic beverages handy or bring your own. If toasting with red wine, you can have festive sparkling juice. If there’s champagne, indulge in ginger ale or cider. What’s in that glass only matters to you—no one else will know unless you or your host makes a big deal of it. Be the designated driver—they’re supposed to stay sober, after all. Part of the pain in this scenario is worrying about what other people think, and getting over this is going to be a huge relief for you in life as a whole, not just sobriety.
- Have an out. Whether it’s an early day tomorrow, a long day today, or some last-minute preparations of your own, it doesn’t matter. Just have some reasonable excuse to leave the party if you need to.
- Come late and leave early. Stay long enough not to insult your host, but only stay as long as you feel comfortable. Arriving late and leaving early are easy ways to lessen the amount of time you are in a position of temptation.
- Keep busy with things other than parties. Limit yourself to one invitation a week. Spend the rest of the time doing things that have nothing to do with drinking or partying. Shop. Bake. Clean. Go on outings to places where alcohol is forbidden, like museums, the theater, or parks. Make some of your gifts. Go caroling. Go for a walk.
- Spend time with others in recovery or in your support system. Partying with folks who aren’t drinking and aren’t likely to can be a fun way to add some holiday socializing in a safe, supportive environment.
- Make time for meetings. Getting to a meeting can be tough amid all the other holiday events, responsibilities, and necessities, but taking the time to get to even one meeting can help keep you focused on your recovery and not on the temptations at hand.
- Remember why you sobered up in the first place. Celebrate the days, weeks, months, years, even hours, since you’ve gone clean and sober. Remind yourself of whatever it was that motivated you to start living life again.
- Take care of yourself. Get enough rest. Eat right. Exercise as much as you can. Taking care of yourself and getting enough rest will ensure that you are prepared physically and mentally for the challenges ahead. Being tired, hungry, and stressed all are great ways to end up giving in to temptation. Take care of yourself so you can take care of any issues that may arise.
- Reconnect with your spirit. Whether it’s through meditation, prayer, or just “me time,” taking care of the inner you is just as important as taking care of the outer you. All the rush and responsibilities of the holidays can stress out anyone, but for someone in recovery, that stress can lead to giving in. Chill out. Slow down. Enjoy each day as it comes. You’ll be so much better off if you do.
- Reconnect with your sponsor or counselor. They’ve been there, done that. They know what you’re facing better than anyone else. Even if it’s been a while, or especially if it’s been a while, reconnecting with them can make getting through the holidays a little easier. That’s what they are there for.
The holidays don’t have to be a time of temptation or falling down. You can get through them happily, soberly, and simply. You’re worth it, after all.