Many people remark that the holiday season is a magical time because of traditions, parties, and reunions with friends and family. And while these are wonderful aspects of the holiday season, staying sober through the holidays is much more stressful compared to the rest of the year.
The Challenges of Staying Sober During the Holidays
During the holiday season, parties are everywhere. You might find yourself invited to several holiday parties like work parties or family parties. In almost all cases, these parties involve alcohol.
If you are someone in recovery, staying sober through the holidays while watching everyone else imbibe can be very challenging. This can be especially true if you have close friends or family who don’t understand the process of addiction, don’t respect your sobriety, or encourage you to either use drugs or drink.
These issues can be exacerbated by stress, disagreements with other family members, and the financial pressure of having to travel to see family or buy gifts for everyone.
Tips for Staying Sober through the Holidays
If you are uncertain about how family and friends will respect your sobriety or are around people who are drinking or using drugs at parties, there are several tips you can use to stay sober during the holidays.
Make a Schedule
First, make a schedule so that you know what’s coming. If you know that you are invited to a holiday party or an event with potential triggers, set aside time in your schedule ahead of that event for self-care such as:
- Finding a free yoga class
- Exercising at home
- Meditating at a local park
- Calling a trusted friend
- Attending an extra AA or NA meeting
- Journaling the night before
Have an Escape Plan
When you start preparing for seasonal events like parties, make sure you have an escape plan that you have thought out ahead of time, so you have an excuse to leave early if things are outside of your control or you are beginning to feel pressured or stressed.
You might consider inviting a friend who is also in recovery or a sponsor with you so that they can be a sober source of fun and help you if you are triggered. They can also double as your excuse to leave.
One of the best tips for staying sober through the holidays is to prepare yourself for the complex emotions that might arise. You might consider participating in things like family therapy or extra group support services before the holidays as a way to bolster your preparation.
It can be challenging to navigate family dynamics of who is talking to whom, who is currently angry at home, which person is holding a grudge, and so on. All of this is exhausting and confusing enough if you are sober, but it’s even more challenging if you are in recovery because those tensions might impact your journey, and you need to prepare yourself to get a feeling for what emotions you might experience and how you can process those feelings.
Note: If you are working with a support group or a professional therapist, try to put together strategies and develop ideas for avoiding family members or friends who are triggering to you and for processing the emotions you might experience during the holidays.
If you are struggling to stay sober during the holidays, if you are worried about your sobriety, or if you have relapsed in the past and want help moving forward, Peninsula Health Center offers several programs and therapies for clients.
The holidays are no time to be shy and try to make up excuses or mask your sobriety. Too often, people think that everyone else is owed an explanation, or they have to make up an excuse like “I’m driving” or “I don’t feel well.”
In reality, not everyone understands what it means to be in recovery, but you can use the holiday season as an opportunity to explain why you are choosing not to use drugs or drink and how you are having fun without those substances. This can be an especially useful tactic if you have someone who pressures you with comments like “one drink can’t hurt.”
Even things as simple as holiday traditions or family get-togethers can be heavily associated with drug or alcohol use, which can trigger you and risk a relapse. Understanding tips for staying sober during the holidays and knowing when to get help from a professional can ensure you have all the support you need when the time comes.
Don’t hesitate to get the support you need during the holidays. We are here to help. Our Palos Verdes drug rehab offers holistic treatment programs ranging from a partial hospitalization program to South Bay sober living. Call us today to learn more.