7 Tips for Staying Sober Over Christmas and New Years
Some Common Triggers During the Holidays Include the Following:
- Dealing with toxic family relationships
- Feeling alone or having nobody to share the holidays with
- Managing all the pressures of the season (e.g., presents, travel, parties etc.)
- Constant interactions with drugs, people drinking alcohol and those who are under the influence in a holiday environment
So, how can you help to protect yourself from rationalizing having “just one drink” or falling victim to the trappings of the holiday season at the next holiday gathering?
The following are 7 tips to help you stay sober during the holidays:
(1) Start Each Day with a Plan
To avoid the temptations of the holidays, start each day with a plan.
Have your sponsor’s phone number handy. Stay busy and if possible, attend sober holiday parties. Family members can be helpful if they know the issues, many times family members can be a big support. This means thinking ahead about all situations and the possible triggers that may arise during the holiday season. Always be prepared.
If you are in a place where your drug cravings start to take over, have a plan to settle them. Leave the situation or call a sober friend. As much as you may want to spend time with a loved one during the holidays, your own feelings and self-care are the most important things to keep in mind, especially during early recovery.
(2) Evaluate Social Events
Before agreeing to attend any social events, make sure that you plan ahead and understand the situation. This will help reduce stress when you attend the event. It will be important to know if there will be alcohol involved, so that you can be prepared to be around it.
If there are opportunities to drink alcohol, it may cause some anxiety. This may require having to talk about your sobriety or deny drinks. It may be helpful to have a non-alcoholic drink in hand such as sparkling water. By doing so, you will avoid having to deny alcohol altogether. And if someone does offer you a drink, you can easily turn it down by saying, “No, thank you, I am all set.”
(3) Talk about Your Recovery
Recovery and sobriety are losing the stigma they once carried. Most people know someone who has battled addiction. Of course, it is your choice whether you want to talk about your journey, just know that you do not have to be afraid to do so. By being open about it, you will likely gain more encouragement and support than you would ever imagine from friends and family.
(4) Know Your Triggers
It is important to know your relapse triggers. The holidays may mean being brought back to places and parties where you used to have fun and use drugs or alcohol. You may run into old friends from your using days, old friends who are back in town, and those who will remind you of substance use. You may find yourself grieving relationships and ties that were broken during the holiday season.
Know your relapse triggers and exactly what you will do if you feel on shaky ground.
(5) Make Sure to Eat
Low blood sugar can leave you irritable or anxious. This may result in you feeling tempted and impulsive by substances like drugs and alcohol. Proper nutrition is crucial for your health and mental well-being, especially during recovery. Have a healthy snack or meal about every three hours. Also, make sure you are consistently drinking water to stay hydrated.
(6) Lean on Your Support System
If you are connected to a recovery support group, take time to attend some extra meetings during the holidays to help stay on track. Seek out friends or family members that you feel safe and comfortable with. For help finding a support group, reach out to the team at Turning Point of Tampa.
Involve Family Members and Friends
If you feel lonely, make phone calls to friends and family. Stay close with helpful family and friends and those you have met during your recovery journey. People that you know will help you stay sober.
Your friends who abuse substances may have to celebrate without you this year. It is not worth the stress and confusion that could lead to relapse.
(7) Have an Exit Strategy
If you begin to feel uncomfortable during an event or holiday party, it is okay to find a way out. Know what your triggers are and know where the exit is. Plan at what point you will leave if things get tough.
Friends and family members will understand, and the most important thing is maintaining your recovery. Take some time to rest for a few minutes after your negative experience and reflect on what was difficult for you.
Practice TAMERS Every Day
Utilize good brain healing techniques. Practice TAMERS daily:
- Talk about recovery and think about recovery
- Act on your recovery and connect with others
- Meditate and minimize stress
- Exercise and eat well
Recovery Does Not Mean a Perfect Life
An important step in recovery is coming to grips with the idea that sobriety is not always a pink cloud. Most people with addiction expect their upside-down world to immediately turn right side up. But this is far from the truth. Granted, there is hope for a better future, but it does not always come easily or quickly.
If you or a loved one has been misusing drugs or alcohol for a while, the brain may need several months or longer to set itself right. Give yourself time to build a happy new life.
Staying Sober this Holiday Season
Tis’ the season for family gatherings and holiday celebrations; the season for champagne-toasting and gift-giving; the season in which many of us come together to ‘eat, drink, and be merry.’
As fun and joyous as the holidays can be, they often commence a challenging time for early in their recovery journey. It is inevitable that it can be difficult to stay sober during the holidays, which is why we have included several tips to help you maintain your sober life during holiday parties and family gatherings.
If you struggle with how to stay clean during the holiday season, you are not alone. According to the US Health and Human Services, as many as 17 million Americans struggle with alcohol use disorders alone. Thinking about this statistic, along with the added stress that comes with the holidays, and it makes a recipe for potential disaster.
Can you take a little holiday rest after overcoming addiction? Keeping your mind on track each morning should allow time for sobriety when temptation has no limits on you or other people. A stressful family life is hard to cope with and difficult because many are recovering from toxic past experiences.
Some who have no extended family relationships may become lonely. A large component of recovery is addressing mental health. Often a drug addiction coincides with other co-occurring mental health disorders.
Reaching out for extra support during the holidays with a few extra meetings a month, a new course of therapy or extra sessions at your current therapy is a great option. End the year by revving up your recovery instead of allowing the holidays to pull you off track.
Why is it Hard to Stay Sober During the Holidays?
Holidays tend to represent indulgence and extravagance. There is an unhealthy view on excess food or drinks in general. More drugs and alcohol may pose an unavoidable threat during the holiday season, which is a cause for confusion and potential relapse.
Addiction Treatment at Turning Point of Tampa
At Turning Point of Tampa are committed to providing high quality, 12-Step based substance use disorder and eating disorder programs that are affordable and effective. We treat clients who struggle with drug and alcohol abuse and eating disorders like Anorexia, Bulimia and Binge Eating Disorder.
We strive to continually evaluate industry research, as well as our own data, so we can improve and develop the most effective programs available today.
The comprehensive alcohol and drug dependency programs at Turning Point of Tampa combine intense therapy and compassionate care with the 12-Step model for substance abuse and addiction treatment.
Over the last three decades we have helped thousands of clients change the course of their lives by developing the coping skills needed to maintain abstinence from mood- and mind-altering substances.
At the core of Turning Point of Tampa’s programs is the concept of creating a safe and stable environment where each client can begin to develop the life skills necessary for long-term recovery.
In our program, clients take part in a carefully planned routine to help them leave behind the chaos of their addiction and build a structured, meaningful life.
Going through the holidays can be difficult, but with the support of others, you can reduce the risk of relapse. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction or substance abuse, please contact team for more information on our recovery programs.