The holidays can be an especially difficult time of the year for addicts and alcoholics. While non-addicts and alcoholics are solely thinkings about the good food, good company and good times, the added stresses and challenges addicts face at this time are great.
Most people will agree that alcohol has a tendency to make each event feel like a celebration, so it is common to have an abundance around during the holidays. But for addicts who are new to recovery, it can be their first experience with joining in on the celebration without understanding how to partake without a drink.
The holiday season tends to be bittersweet as everyone tends to experience at least some sort of disappointment. For addicts, this disappointment tends to come in the form of expectations of how the addict should be perceived. This can come in the form of endless questions about graduation, job satisfaction, kids and relationships. It is easy to get lost in the comparison role during the holidays.
Perhaps your family has kept your disease of addiction from the extended family, therefore when you reject a drink by a family member, how do you keep the conversation away from your recovery?
On the other hand, if your addiction hasn’t taken the form of a secret, how do you maintain normalcy during holiday get togethers without being uncomfortable in your own skin?
Due to the difficulty at this time of year, Addiction Alternatives wanted to provide you with a few tips for the holidays to stay sober and comfortable!
Tips for the Holiday Season
In addition to family holiday events, work and social holiday parties are a constant reminder to the sober alcoholic that they must live and socialize in a different manner than those who can drink in safety. There are holiday functions that require an appearance and it is important to have tactics in place that can help to prevent relapse and to minimize triggers. Here is a holiday “survival guide” for the sober alcoholic:
Have an escape plan
An escape plan may include ensuring that you have your own form of transportation or that you have arranged for transportation if you feel you need to leave. Letting your family or the host know before you arrive or when you arrive that you may need to leave early removes the uncomfortability associated with early unexpected departures. Making a backup plan and letting the host know ahead of time is essentially protecting you and your family from a potential relapse or outburst.
Dealing With Problem Drinkers
Dealing with family members that could perhaps belong in the rooms of AA or NA during the holidays when you are sober can feel like an oxymoron. It is your responsibility as the one in recovery to maintain a certain type of composure and relaxation for the other family members. It may help to have another sober friend on call to talk to during the event when you need the added support.
If you are concerned with what you will be able to drink at a party, it may be smart to bring a special non-alcoholic drink that anyone would love. This may even encourage the typical drinkers to limit their intake. Plus when you already have a drink in your hand, you don’t need to worry as much about being offered an alcoholic drink.
Go To Response
When it comes to explaining why you don’t drink around family or even co-workers, it can be an awkward encounter. However, if your go to response is along the lines of one of the following you are less likely to receive a counter response.
- “I don’t drink anymore”,
- “I am not drinking tonight”
- “I am on medication and cannot have alcohol”
- “I am the designated driver tonight,” etc.
You do not have to feel pressured into going to every party you are invited to. If you think you would be better off not attending, simply let the host know that you have other plans during that time.
Take Care of Yourself
You need to keep in mind that it is still just as important during the holidays than any other day to take care of yourself. This includes getting enough sleep, eating regularly and getting some exercise. You will be amazed at the difference.
Make New Holiday Traditions
Don’t be afraid to try something new. During the holidays, many people get lost in the typical traditions, but finding new traditions is good too. This could be anything from volunteering at a soup kitchen, having sober parties and gift exchanges and more.
Put Your Sobriety First
It is okay to put you and your sobriety first, always. If you feel something may threaten your sobriety it is okay to make new plans.
Some family members may see your lack of drinking as a shot to their behaviors. Do not let their opinions affect your sobriety. No everyone will understand why you can’t drink. So be honest about where you are at and ask for support when you need it.