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Surviving The Holiday Season Sober

December 23rd, 2020

The holidays can be a joyous time for many individuals all around the world. However they can also be a trying time for many as well, especially for those who are either struggling with addiction presently or are actively on the road to recovery.

The holidays can be a stressful time for almost anyone – from last minute shopping, to family visitors, to traveling, to large gatherings – but for someone who is recovering from addiction, it adds a whole new level to an already stressful, yet joyous, time of year. It is important when heading into the holiday season to ensure you have a toolset at your disposal in order to feel confident in your sobriety.

When we refer to a tool set, this can mean so many things; From having a support system of family and friends who are aware of your situation and are there to help get you through any large gatherings to preparing your own alcohol-free holiday beverages to bring with you. In this blog, we’ll outline some helpful tips and tricks to help you navigate this holiday season and remain sober as we head into 2021. This blog can also be helpful for those who aren’t in recovery themselves, but perhaps have a loved one in recovery who will be with them this holiday season. It never hurts to educate yourself and have the tools to support those around us!

A big piece of recovery is having a solid support system. We hope that each and every one of you has at least a few people they can rely on to help you navigate the potential challenges that the holiday season can bring and it’s important to identify those individuals in your life in advance. This support system can be there for you by attending any holiday parties with you as a sober companion, be available for phone calls if you find yourself in a sticky situation, and even just to check in on you now and again if you aren’t looking for someone to be so hands on.

Another important piece of the puzzle is preparing yourself. Be honest with yourself when it comes to whether or not you should be attending certain parties – for instance, you may not be quite ready to attend a large gathering of friends from your past life. This could be a situation that is potentially triggering and it’s okay to not be ready for something like that just yet.

If you do plan on attending a gathering where perhaps not everyone knows you’re sober and you don’t feel quite ready yet to share that information – prepare a few reasons for why you aren’t drinking. For instance, maybe you started a new diet that involves avoiding alcohol, you have an early morning the next day, or alcohol just doesn’t agree with your stomach anymore. All of these or others are fair reasons to give those you may not be ready to discuss your real situation with quite yet.

If you plan on attending a holiday party where you know others will be drinking, you can also be prepared by bringing your own beverage of choice with you. Perhaps a bottle of sparkling cider or some sort of ginger ale based mocktail will help you to feel like you’re part of the festivity without the pressure of alcohol or stress of someone else trying to offer you a drink.

It’s also important to have an exit strategy just in case things get uncomfortable or if you feel that the situation is getting a bit too testy. Bring a friend along who you have a specific code word or look that you plan to exchange with them so they know it’s time to leave together or be confident in telling yourself it’s time to go. Don’t feel like you need to stay and make sure you have that support system around you to help you feel strong in your decision.

Make sure you find time for yourself over the holiday season. As we have mentioned before, the holiday’s can be a stressful season for so many different reasons – on top of your sobriety. Because of this, it’s more important than ever to ensure you are taking care of yourself first and foremost. Ensure you’re finding time to get outside and get some fresh air. 30 minutes of exercise a day can really help boost your mood and allow you to feel instantly more relaxed. Practice meditating in the morning or anytime you feel your stress level rising. Overall, try to stay positive and remember the reasons why you enjoy the holidays. A positive mindset can make a big impact on the outcome of your day.

If you’re even reading this and becoming more stressed about handling the holiday season, you can always reach out to an outpatient recovery program to help you stay on your road to recovery through the holiday season. There is no shame in asking for help and there are so many others who are on the same path.

Looking for more advice or wanting to learn more about addiction treatment? Reach out to our admissions team today and we would love the opportunity to help.