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  • Preparing for the Holidays in Addiction Recovery

    Preparing for the Holidays in Addiction Recovery

    For many people, the holiday season can be a time of joy and celebration. Seeing family and friends, taking time off work, and engaging in various holiday traditions can be exciting. At the same time, the holiday season can bring up feelings of stress and anxiety, which can be difficult for anyone. It can, however, be especially difficult for individuals who are in early recovery from addiction. In addition to various stressors and changes in routine, alcohol use is often commonplace during many holiday gatherings. Although the holidays can be triggering, there are ways to stay safe and sober this holiday season. 

    Be Aware of Your Triggers

    Being aware of your triggers can be a helpful first step in better understanding yourself and what situations may pose a greater risk. It is not uncommon for substance use and addiction to put a strain on family relationships. Perhaps there are certain family members who you don’t feel comfortable being around, or perhaps there are relationships which you are actively trying to repair and improve. These situations may cause you to experience difficult emotions, which can be triggering. Parties or events that are largely centered around alcohol may also be difficult to navigate, especially in early sobriety.

    Create an Exit Plan

    Have a plan in place in case you need to leave. Perhaps you need to be up early in the morning, your dog needs to be let out, or your babysitter needs to head home. You can even have a trusted friend call you expressing that they need your help. Consider driving yourself to the event or gathering, that way you do not have to rely on anyone else if you feel as though you need to leave early. And remember – it’s okay if you need to leave! Early recovery is difficult. Just because you need to leave one event now does not mean this will always be the case.

    Bring a Friend or Have a Support Person 

    Having a friend with you can help to keep you accountable and offer support in difficult situations. Prior to the event, remember to discuss triggers and plan ahead for how to address different situations. If you are unable to bring a friend with you, calling your sponsor or someone else who understands your recovery beforehand to talk can help you feel more supported going into the event. Checking in with that person throughout the event can also be helpful. 

    Have a Pre-Planned Response in Case Someone Offers You a Drink

    Perhaps you feel comfortable sharing with others that you are in recovery, or maybe this is not the case. Having a pre-planned response can help you avoid feeling stuck or pressured to have a conversation that you are uncomfortable with. Remember, there are countless reasons someone could be avoiding drinking alcohol. If someone asks you if you would like a drink, some possible responses include:

    Politely and firmly saying, “no, thank you.” 

    Asking for a non-alcoholic beverage instead. 

    Holding a non-alcoholic beverage in your hand. If someone asks you if you’d like a drink, share that you already have one. 

    “I’m driving tonight and I don’t drink and drive.”

    “I’m taking medication that I shouldn’t mix with alcohol.”

    “I’m not drinking tonight.”

    “I have an early start to my day tomorrow.”

    “I’m trying to be healthier and I’m cutting out alcohol.” 

    Practice Self-Care

    The holiday season can create a disruption in your daily routine, which can ultimately lead to neglecting self-care. Although the holidays are often filled with family and friends, don’t forget to take time for yourself! Taking care of your body by making sure you are eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and incorporating physical movement into your day are all essential components of self-care. Also, make sure you are prioritizing your recovery during this holiday season. Many AA and NA continue to hold meetings during the holidays. If you are traveling, plan ahead and search for local meetings in that area. Remember – you don’t have to face the holidays alone! 

    Join MBC’s Support Group

    And if you’re looking for a supportive community, sign up for Mind Body Co-op’s Recovery Road Virtual Therapy Group led by DBT Coach and CADC Christa Eastburn and Psychotherapist Nicky Zimniak. The group starts Dec. 1, 2022 and will meet weekly on Thursdays from 12pm to 1:15pm.