If you are in recovery from alcohol abuse or addiction, the holidays can be a difficult time. But, there are many practices and principles available which will help you remain sober during the holidays. Navigating recovery during the holidays may seem daunting. But there are many grounding techniques that can help you keep sober during the holidays.
An alcohol addiction treatment center can provide resources and support throughout the recovery process. If you or someone you love could be abusing alcohol, contact BoardPrep Recovery using our online form or call us at 866.796.4720 to learn about the treatment options we offer.
Challenges to Recovery During the Holidays
It is good practice to be mindful of the kinds of stressors that may put you at risk of a relapse. However, these challenges may seem to intensify during the holiday season. While you can’t control all the different circumstances you might find yourself in, there are steps you can take to make these challenges more manageable. Take time to determine what tools and techniques you can deploy to handle things like:
- Uncomfortable family or social interactions
- Elevated stress or anxiety
- Emotional triggers and disturbances
- Being at a distance from your regular support network
- Being around alcohol, even if you know you will not be drinking
How Holiday Stress Can Make Recovery During the Holidays Difficult
Managing stress and anxiety is a vital component of the recovery process at any time of the year. However, recovery during the holidays can be tough. If someone is just beginning their alcohol addiction recovery journey at this time, the dynamics at play in family or work gatherings can often exacerbate existing stressors and increase the risk of a relapse.
For example, the consumption of alcohol often leads to the loss of inhibitions. People may lose their social filter, and any unresolved past issues can arise in conversation as a result. Alternatively, if people don’t know or understand that you are in recovery, they may pressure you to drink, which can be uncomfortable. Though you don’t have to share any information you are not ready for others to know, it may be hard to avoid the topic of alcohol without a clear and direct response to any probing questions.
Facing Emotional Highs and Lows While in Alcohol Addiction Recovery
The holidays can be complicated. You can look forward to the happy and exciting moments while also recognizing they can be emotionally fraught. You might be anxious about how people will treat you if you disclose you are in recovery. As the holidays ramp up, you might feel overwhelmed by feelings of melancholy, grief, or guilt. Conversely, you might get carried away in excitement.
It’s an emotional roller coaster! You may experience all these feelings and more without necessarily knowing why. Be prepared for the potential triggers you might confront at a holiday gathering. Stay mindful of your emotional state before and during an event. If you have a faith tradition or spiritual practice, prayer or meditation may help fortify your resolve before an unexpected or unsettling encounter. If you have a sponsor or are part of a support group, connect with them before a party to discuss strategies for handling the pressures of an event and again afterward to process the experience.
Support and Self-Care While Newly Sober
The holidays are busy and unpredictable. Try to have a routine for maintaining your sobriety in place before the holidays are in full swing and make arrangements that will allow you to stick to that routine. Set a regular, predictable time that you can use to ground yourself and check in with your emotions.
Adopt practices that will direct your focus to your own sobriety and well-being before you are caught off-guard and vulnerable to the pressures of the season. You may want to pray or meditate, write a short journal entry, or meet with a support group or a sponsor (even over the phone or video chat if you are traveling). If you’re unsure what might work for you, people in your support network who have experience observing the holidays while newly sober may have advice on how to approach this time.
Celebrating the Holidays While in Recovery
A recent study indicates alcohol consumption during the last two weeks of December is about 70% higher than at any other time of the year. So, it’s hardly surprising that this time of year can be very difficult for people in recovery, especially those who are just beginning to figure out what recovery means to them.
Before and after going to events where alcohol is freely accessible, contact others in your recovery network for support, encouragement, and accountability. If there is an open bar, a keg, or a refreshments table with self-serve alcoholic drinks, try to position yourself away from it. If you have friends, family members, or colleagues that you trust to support your sobriety, socialize with them and ask them to look out for you. They’ll be able to steer the conversation away from alcohol-related subjects without drawing potentially unwanted attention to you and your recovery process.
Have a Happy Holiday with Support from BoardPrep Recovery
You have a lot to celebrate. Whether or not you observe a religious tradition and its holidays, you’ve made a big step by committing to sobriety. You deserve to be with people who support and honor that commitment without reservation, especially at a time of year in which we are invited to reconnect with family and friends. There will always be challenges to overcome in the recovery process; it would be wrong to suggest otherwise. By checking in with your emotions, setting routines that support your recovery, and staying in contact with your support network, you will give yourself the freedom and confidence to fully celebrate with people you love.
Wherever you are in the recovery process, help is available. To learn how to handle the holidays in early recovery, contact BoardPrep today. You can reach our staff at 866.796.4720.