By Shanelle Claeys
Christmas parties, New Year's Eve celebrations, and other get-togethers this time of year can be difficult for people in recovery. The stress of the holidays, old habits, and family traditions that involve alcohol can create high-risk situations for relapse. That's one reason why The Village's First Step Recovery program will hold regular programming the evening of December 31 instead of closing for New Year's Eve.
People with addiction can take proactive steps to maintain their sobriety during this season. Here are some great tips to help motivate you during holidays, long breaks, and in high-stress situations.
- Planning ahead: Planning for any get together with friends or family creates stress. It is important to be prepared before any high-stress situation.
- High risk: Have a plan for high-risk situations and let the people who support you know and understand this plan. These plans can range anywhere from disengaging from a situation to calling your sponsor.
- Stay busy: Don't be afraid to double up your meetings over long breaks or attend a marathon meeting. Keep yourself busy with actives like bowling, fishing, or crafting classes.
- Stay hydrated: Bring your own sober drink to any get together to help keep your mind off what other people are drinking.
- Be a role model: Actions speak louder than words. Show your friends and family that your hard work is paying off. Remember that your children are going to emulate what they see, so work on making that image of yourself stronger.
- Stay away: Remove people who still drink or use around you from your life. Surround yourself with people aiming for recovery or who will not use around you. Build a healthy social environment!
- Buddy system: Bring a recovery friend as you celebrate the holidays.
- Gratitude: Jot down everything you're grateful for this holiday season to keep from feeding into negativity.
- HALT: Do not let yourself get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. Recognize these feelings and work hard to prevent them from making you vulnerable to urges.
- Prayer and meditation: Don’t ignore the benefits of meditation and prayer. This simple activity boosts confidence and willpower.
- Self-care: Taking care of yourself will immediately aid you. Get good sleep, exercise, and eat healthy food.
- Understand yourself first: You need to know why you’re not drinking. Why do you want a sober New Year’s? Expect challenges from well-meaning people, but keep a clear mind on your goal and stay sober.
- Manage your stress: Don't be stressed about what you can't change. Be realistic in your expectations. Take one minute at a time. Set your boundaries and say no!
These tips and more can be found in author Lori Enomoto's article with CRC Health Learning Center, "A Sober and Fun New Year's Eve," "How to Celebrate New Year's Sober" by Restore Health + Wellness Center, author Sterling Shumway’s and Thomas Kimball's book “Six Essentials to Achieve Lasting Recovery,” and from the knowledgeable staff here at First Step, which provides treatment for alcoholism and drug and chemical dependency.