Finding the strength to stay sober in your day-to-day life is the major lesson of recovery. Early on you’ll focus on managing physical cravings and coping with those urges. As time passes, the triggers will be more psychological and social, and you’ll need to identify ways to avoid or minimize the impact of those triggers.
Staying sober in your normal routine isn’t always predictable, but the normalcy of it makes it much easier. Changes in circumstances, though, can surely add a layer of difficulty to your recovery. Over the holidays, you’re likely to find yourself at high-risk gatherings.
Here’s what to do so you can avoid drugs and alcohol this coming season and where to access sobriety help from professionals.
During the holidays it’s important to put extra focus into your recovery. This is because you’re likely to encounter high-risk gatherings or gatherings that introduce new or onerous triggers. These gatherings can happen with family, friends or co-workers and may invite added stress or opportunities to use that aren’t normally present.
Sober holidays may be in jeopardy due to some of the following circumstances.
- The stress of planning or hosting
- Social anxiety
- Grief from missing loved ones over the holidays
- Financial strain
- Feeling unable to live up to holiday expectations
- Seasonal depression
- High likelihood of family conflict
- Parties where alcohol or drugs are being consumed
- Events that people you used to use with are likely to attend
There are numerous reasons that you may be tempted to return to addiction over the holidays. The good news is that the right treatment and sobriety support can help you bear through this season of high-risk gatherings.
Tips for staying sober
The best advice for staying sober will come from an addiction specialist who knows your situation personally, such as a recovery counselor or therapist. However, there are some universal tips that can be of use to any person in any scenario. Here are the top tips for staying sober over the holidays.
1. Don’t attend events alone
While the effort of recovery rests largely on your shoulders, in tough moments it’s advisable to enlist sobriety support by bringing a friend or family member who can hold you accountable. Attending events alone, especially when drugs or alcohol will be present, is an invitation for relapse. Have a conversation with your loved one beforehand about your goals for sobriety.
2. Consider skipping the event
It’s doubtful that you have a Christmas party, staff gift exchange or family event that is truly mandatory. Others may not understand when you decline an invitation, but when your top priority is staying away from substance use, it’s OK to say no to events.
When deciding whether to attend an event, consider who will be in attendance, whether drugs or alcohol will be present and how you’re likely to feel once you’re there. If you’re going to be surrounded by people you are used to using with and feel in the party spirit, it’s best to stay home. If you’re already feeling anxious about impending family arguments, consider taking a rain check.
3. Write down triggers beforehand
Preparing for an event is the best way to avoid a potential relapse. The more you visualize and identify potential triggers, the more equipped you’ll be to cope with them and decide when to exit. Take at least 10 minutes to run through the event in your head, jotting down triggers that are likely. Then, identify whether you can manage the trigger with one of your coping tools or if the trigger would warrant leaving.
Not all triggers can be anticipated, but your rough estimation of how the night will go can help you feel ahead of possible problems and more confident in dealing with them.
4. Plan an easy out
When you’re getting ready for an event, ensure that you have the option to leave at any point. Plan a backup ride, determine a reasonable excuse for leaving (such as an upcoming busy day or feeling under the weather) and a coping strategy to partake in once you arrive home (calling a friend or doing a virtual workout class). Leaving may be better for your sobriety than staying, but arriving home alone and upset can be a trigger as well, so plan accordingly.
5. Make your boundaries clear
Dealing with family and friends who don’t support your recovery, are skeptical or are simply unaware of what is and isn’t helpful is much easier when you establish clear boundaries.
These boundaries can include certain topics that are off-limits (such as discussing your treatment or how long you’ve been sober), or refraining from talking to certain people altogether. You may also find that imposing time limits on events with loved ones eases tension. Just remember to respectfully communicate your boundaries.
The holidays are a busy time, and it’s common to feel that you don’t want to burden others in this hectic season. If you’re in recovery, you may hesitate to call a loved one or ask to meet up with your sponsor.
It’s essential to your sobriety that you acknowledge your own needs for sobriety support, especially when dealing with high-risk gatherings. If you’re worried about particular events, family conflict or isolation this time of year, know that your support system would much rather embrace a small interruption to their personal schedule than leave you feeling alone.
Reaching out for help during the holidays is commendable, and shows that you’re serious about long-term sobriety.
If you’re looking for sobriety help over the holidays look no further than Silvermist Recovery. Silvermist Recovery offers substance use and mental health treatment in an environment conducive to a transformative recovery experience. Call today to make an appointment so you can enjoy your holidays with minimal stress.