The holidays can be a time of celebration, but they can also be a time of added stress. On top of other potential triggers like navigating family relationships or dealing with financial stress, many holiday parties revolve around alcohol.
People in recovery from alcohol or other substances may find this time of year difficult. There are steps you can take to support your recovery during this holiday season.
Reach out to your support system in advance
Before entering any situation that might be triggering for you, it can be helpful to reach out to your support system. Choose a person or people you trust, and let them know in advance what kind of care you need when stressors arise. This way they will have a good sense of how to help you navigate the difficult situation. If you have a sober friend, they can be a great resource.
Make a list of things that help you feel calm
Taking just a little time to prepare before you enter a potentially stressful situation can make a big difference. Stress takes up a lot of energy; it helps to have prearranged tools. Make a list of some things that make you feel calm, even if it is just a mental list. You might also think about how you can utilize these things in your specific situation. For instance, if taking walks makes you feel calm, but telling your family you need to take a walk stresses you out, plan your talking points in advance. That way you can step outside with more ease.
Plan your response to questions about not drinking
When attending holiday parties where people don’t know you are sober, you may get asked why you are not drinking. If this makes you uncomfortable, it is helpful to plan your response in advance. It doesn’t have to be too elaborate, unless you want it to be—and you can use this same response for anyone who asks. This takes the pressure off you in the moment.
Hold a glass of another beverage in your hands
At a social gathering where everyone is drinking alcohol, it can feel uncomfortable to be the only person without a drink in your hand. However, just because you don’t drink alcohol doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a beverage. Holding a glass in your hands is a seemingly simple act, but it can be a great tool for easing some discomfort. Water, seltzer, soda—it doesn’t matter what non-alcoholic beverage you choose. If you’re comfortable, you can even make yourself an interesting mocktail as a celebration of making it through this difficult time sober!
Suggest or participate in activities
A lot of holiday events are centered on eating and drinking. If you’re having obsessive thoughts about alcohol, this may make things difficult, as there may not be a lot else to focus on. You can suggest a board game to play, a television show to watch, or any other activity that might take your attention away from drinking. You don’t have to rely on others, though; you can find a pad to draw on, explore the house you’re in—anything that allows you to focus on something else.
Try not to judge your feelings
People will sometimes feel bad for feeling bad. Depending on where you are in your recovery, you might think you should be able to handle the holidays and get upset with yourself if unexpected stress arises. However, you are navigating a difficult situation, and it is normal for a lot of different feelings to come up. Try to spend the time you might spend judging your responses feeling proud of yourself for making it this far. That, too, is worthy of celebration.
If you or someone you know is struggling to get or stay sober this holiday season, there is help. At Amatus Recovery Centers across the country, we offer the full continuum of drug and alcohol treatment, from medically assisted detox to long-term group therapy aftercare.
The easiest way to recover from addiction or alcoholism is to seek help. Call an admissions specialist today at 833-216-3079 to learn about our addiction treatment options and determine which one is right for you.
Amatus Recovery Centers, a division of Amatus Health, offers treatment for drug and alcohol addiction as well as co-occurring mental health disorders in facilities across the country. To learn more visit amatusrecoverycenters.com.