For those that have been in recovery from substance use disorder for a while, some of the greatest joy and inner freedom has come to you form staying clean and sober. It’s important to protect yourself from relapse during this holiday season where the alcohol, excitement, and emotions flow more readily than usual.
If you are newly clean and sober, we want to extend you some hope. Feel confident that the best years of your life lie ahead of you. The 12-step programs (Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous) offer many promises. Life will take on a new meaning, and you will know happiness like you have never known before.
Stay Connected to Recovery
Don’t expect your family to instantly offer you the support you need. When the holidays get busy, it’s tempting to skip meetings, counseling appointments, and outreach calls. Stay connected to your recovery. Look to people you trust who will stand by your recovery program. If you know the holiday is going to be difficult, attend a meeting the night before. Use phone meetings if attending face-to-face isn’t a possibility or put in an earbud and listen to a meeting. Schedule a call with your sponsor on the morning of the holiday. Take a breather from the party and make an outreach call during the event. Schedule coffee with a recovery friend or make a counseling appointment the day after the holiday.
Have an Exit Strategy
Is two hours your limit? Does three hours with your family leave you craving a drink? Get quiet, ask your Higher Power for some guidance. No-one needs to know the real reason you’re leaving early. Saying you’re not feeling well isn’t an untruth. It’s okay to put your recovery first and take care of yourself.
Service, Not Self
When we can focus on others, we find more joy and gratitude. So, look for ways to think about and serve others. Make a special family recipe and deliver to friends. Donate your time at a homeless shelter, food pantry, or soup kitchen. Spend time with a neighbor who is confined. These opportunities allow us to spread happiness and cheer to others. Treat it as one of the benefits of staying clean and sober; being able to have a clear mind and body to help others.
Make Sobriety your Top Priority
Make sobriety your top priority. If you think about it, all holiday parties are optional. If you don’t think the activity is going to be good for your recovery, it’s okay not to go. You can politely decline the party invite but make a lunch date with the host for another day.
Be Kind to Yourself
There is no such thing as perfect recovery. Acknowledge your victories. Give yourself a pat on the back every time you make an outreach call, head to a meeting, or read recovery literature.
Staying clean and sober is possible during the holiday season. It can be quite fun if we direct our attention towards people and activities that can help strengthen us on our road to recovery. Go, have fun, and enjoy your sobriety with those that matter: your loved ones.