Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve are some of the most cherished occasions on the calendar. However, they’re also some of the most popular times for alcohol consumption and, unfortunately, drug use. It’s no wonder that this month-long stretch can be an especially challenging time for those in recovery.
At the core of this issue is the fact that many holiday traditions involve alcohol, creating pressure for people in recovery to join in, even if it jeopardizes their hard-won sobriety. On top of that, holiday shopping, family gatherings, and financial concerns tend to crank the stress meter up to 11. Finally, the holidays have a way of bringing forth emotional memories and unresolved issues. Put together, these conditions may cause people to revert to old habits.
The good news is that it doesn’t have to be like that. This article will show you how to stay sober during the holidays. By putting these 10 strategies into action, you can face the yuletide season with confidence and resilience.
Call La Fuente at 888.903.9898 for help staying sober this holiday season.
1. Plan ahead
If you’re attending a holiday party and want to maintain your sobriety, taking proactive steps is essential. There are a number of ways to prepare yourself. For instance, consider driving yourself to the event so you have the flexibility to leave before things get out of hand.
Alternatively, you could invite a sober companion to support you throughout the night. Lastly, we recommend having a ready response for why you’re not drinking. It may sound simple, but knowing what you’re going to say ahead of time will allow you to navigate social situations with confidence.
2. Recognize your triggers
Keep an eye out for H.A.L.T. triggers — those moments when you feel hungry, angry, lonely, or tired, as they can be precursors to relapse. Depending on how you’re feeling, give yourself whatever you need, whether it’s a quick snack, a brisk walk around the block, or simply a 20-minute power nap.
Beyond these basic triggers, the holidays may bring you back to people and places associated with substance use. If you find yourself in a familiar, risky situation, walk away. It’s not easy, but managing these moments is essential in avoiding a potential relapse.
3. BYONAB: Bring your own non-alcoholic beverages
Whether you’re at a house party or a work gathering, finding appealing non-alcoholic drinks can often be a challenge. And when your only options are plain seltzer or overly sugary soda, it can add an extra layer of difficulty to maintaining your sobriety.
To make your social experience more enjoyable and aligned with your commitment to sobriety, consider bringing your own non-alcoholic beverages to holiday parties. This not only opens up the opportunity to explore and savor new and exciting non-alcoholic concoctions, but it also serves as a statement about your dedication to a sober lifestyle.
If you’re worried about other partygoers noticing what’s in your cup — don’t be. Most people are too engrossed in their own conversations and personal matters to care what you’re drinking.
4. Know your boundaries
Before accepting a single invitation, define and communicate your boundaries with loved ones. That could mean avoiding sensitive subjects like your dating life or career or asking your pour-happy uncle to only serve you mocktails.
Keep in mind that this process isn’t about being restrictive or unsociable. Instead, it’s about taking proactive measures to safeguard your well-being and maintain your commitment to sobriety. To put it another way, rather than powering through tough situations, you’re being honest about what you can handle.
5. Prioritize self-care
In the midst of all the holiday hustle and bustle, it’s easy to neglect your own needs. Now, more than ever, it’s important to take the time to eat healthy meals, get enough sleep, and incorporate regular exercise into your routine.
Besides these basic maintenance activities, find some sober ways to indulge. That could mean chatting with a friend, treating yourself to a favorite coffee, or enjoying a binge-watching session of your favorite series. By surrounding yourself with things you love when things get stressful, you reduce the temptation to turn to alcohol or drugs.
6. Create new holiday traditions
Instead of gazing longingly at mom’s mulled wine or sipping on champagne as the clock strikes midnight, create some sober traditions. As an example, you could cook a special family recipe and share it with friends, host a cookie-baking competition, or have a holiday movie marathon.
These are just three examples, but as soon as you start brainstorming, you’ll see just how many ways there are to embrace the holiday spirit that have nothing to do with alcohol or drugs.
With everything going on during the holiday season, you probably feel like you don’t have the time or energy to volunteer. However, we encourage you to reconsider.
Choosing a worthwhile cause, such as serving meals at a local soup kitchen, visiting an elderly neighbor, or assisting at an animal shelter, can be a tremendous help when you’re trying to maintain your sobriety. In fact, study after study shows that volunteering improves mood, increases self-esteem, and provides a sense of connection.
8. Seek out support
It’s natural to feel overwhelmed by holiday festivities, so make sure to prioritize your support network in November and December. This will look different for everyone, but it may involve calling your sponsor or a close friend before and after a holiday event, attending daily 12-step meetings, or finding an online support group if you plan on traveling.
9. Be kind to yourself
If you experience setbacks during the holiday season, it’s okay. Acknowledge your successes and thank yourself every time you take a positive step in your recovery journey.
10. Attend rehab over the holidays
Attending an inpatient or outpatient program probably isn’t your idea of a fun holiday activity, but checking into a program before the new year is a surefire way to avoid the numerous triggers and temptations this season brings.
What’s more, starting treatment during the holidays may increase your chances of getting into your program of choice. Waiting lists are common in January, as this is a month when people are recovering from the holiday season or making New Year’s resolutions.
Happy Sober Holidays from La Fuente Hollywood Treatment Center
Although we’re confident that these tips will help you stay sober during the holidays, we understand just how challenging this period can be, and we’re here to provide assistance.
If you’re serious about leading a sober life, La Fuente Hollywood’s intake staff is available 24/7 to answer your questions and help determine the best treatment program for you. Call us at 888.903.9898 for more information.