Holidays are fast approaching and many in addiction recovery will find themselves with conflicted emotions. With the hustle and bustle of holidays many feel additional stress and anxiety to meet expectations, time constraints and manage financial burdens. The added holiday stress in early recovery can be risky to sobriety. Being prepared for those feelings and emotions by having a clear plan in place will serve as a reminder to put sobriety and recovery first.
Here are some helpful tips to maintain sobriety despite these challenges.
Urges & Cravings May Increase
Additional stress of the holidays may contribute to an increase of urges and cravings. Be mindful of potential triggers and take steps to eliminate unnecessary stressors.
BE PREPARED. Know that craving and urges will pass with time
Practice thought-stopping techniques.
Call a trusted friend, family member, peer or sponsor to help talk you through it.
Go to a meeting.
Alcohol, Substance Use & Social Gatherings
At many social events, alcohol is commonplace. This may make one in recovery feel apprehensive to attend because family members/friends may not know you are in recovery or being around people drinking is a challenge.
It is okay for everyone not to know, but try to have at least one trusted person there to help if needed.
Many in recovery find it helpful to have a non-alcoholic drink in their hand, this may help discourage family members/friends from giving you a drink or asking if you want one.
If you feel like others drinking around you is a risk to your sobriety, be honest with yourself. If you are not ready, that is fine. You can always leave early or come up with a new tradition for the time being.
Have an exit strategy in place. This is why it is important for at least one trusted individual to know what you are going through. In recovery you are taught to put your sobriety first, there is no harm in leaving a party early.
Holiday Stress & Obligations
Recovery treatment commitments in addition to holiday demands can be particularly difficult. Although it is wise to keep a busy schedule it is also important to schedule time for yourself and your recovery.
Do not skip a bridge group meeting or treatment group. It may be wise to be sure to schedule a meeting before or after a stressful event. You could always set up a call with a sponsor, trusted support individual; counselor or peer.
Setting your own schedule can be empowering. Do not allow yourself to spend too much time in stressful situations.
Be aware of your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Honestly evaluate what you are feeling and take steps to alleviate stress/stressors. Do something you enjoy.
Practice self care. Know your boundaries and have a plan for ways you are going to manage difficult obligations.
Managing Feelings Of Guilt & Shame For Time Lost
In recovery you have found this new sense of being truly present. You feel this sense of clarity and awareness that has long been stifled due to substances. You may also feel guilt and shame for missed holidays/time.
Take responsibility for your actions. Loved ones may still feel hurt but with time and effort wounds can heal. Be sure to recognize your denial patterns when communicating.
Try shifting your mindset to the present, instead of focusing on loss try making a gratitude list for the new life recovery has afforded you.
Practice daily meditation techniques.
Practice self forgiveness, acknowledge and release your burdens, others may not be so quick to forgive but healing yourself first is the main objective in early recovery.
Holidays can be challenging but with the proper support and plan in place you will be able to fend off a relapse. Making new holiday memories with friends and loved by being truly present will only help strengthen your foundation for maintaining sobriety.