The holidays are filled with festive parties and events. Unfortunately, these gatherings can present unique challenges for people with substance use disorders. There’s good news, however. It is possible to enjoy the holidays without jeopardizing your sobriety. Read on for a roundup of tips aimed at helping you have a happy, healthy and sober season.
1. Have a strategy in place.
From wild and crazy office parties to difficult relatives, the holidays are filled with potential triggers which can lead to relapse. The more aware you are of these triggers, the better equipped you’ll be to avoid them if and when they happen. Regularly attending meetings, spending time with your sponsor or another sober friend, and always having an escape plan in place are all useful tactics for avoiding temptation and staying sober.
2. Conduct an emotional check-in.
While we often frame the holidays as happy days, the reality is that the season can be accompanied by a broad range of emotions. Taking time to check in on your mindset, emotions, and expectations can help you avoid getting consumed by the holidays. This is also a good opportunity to remind yourself that everyone around you has baggage of their own during the holidays. Having an open mind and an open heart can help you maintain a positive attitude. This, in turn, can keep you from spiraling and relapsing.
3. Be vigilant — before and after the holidays.
For many people, the days leading up to the holidays — as well as the holidays themselves — are tricky times. Others, however, are more vulnerable after the holidays. Addiction is a chronic disease that can rear up at any time. It’s not tied to a specific date or time of year. The fact that you’ve made it through the holidays is no reason to think you’re “cured” and therefore entitled to use.
4. Share your joy.
Want to know one of the best ways to stop obsessing over your own issues during the holidays? Put your skills, talents, and hard work to use for someone else. There are many opportunities for service throughout the holiday season. Whether you volunteer at a soup kitchen or stop in to see an elderly housebound neighbor, these actions will have benefits for you and the recipient of your kindness and generosity.
5. Put yourself first.
The holidays are filled with many obligations. If the thought of honoring them all is causing you stress, or if there’s an event, in particular, that is bound to expose you to triggers, put yourself first and opt out. This is just one form of critical self-care. Other ways to protect your wellness — and your sobriety — during the hectic holiday season include prioritizing sleep, eating right, exercising, and spending time with people who support you and your life of sobriety.
The best gift you can give your loved ones — and yourself! — this holiday season is a commitment to ongoing sobriety. If you think you’re in need of drug or alcohol addiction treatment, why put off for tomorrow what you can do today? Seeking addiction treatment during the holidays will bring you one step closer to sobriety in the new year. Harris House has been a leading St. Louis area addiction recovery center for more than 50 years. Call us today to learn about admissions.