The holidays are supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, but as a Massachusetts addiction treatment center, we know that for many, this is not the case. Along with celebrations and parties, the holidays can also be a time of stress, chaos, and for people in recovery, addiction triggers.
Tips for Staying Sober During the Holidays
Your first year in recovery during the holidays can be especially challenging. You are likely still trying to navigate your life in sobriety, and the holiday season often comes with some added hurdles. Although it may seem impossible at times, these tips on how to stay sober during the holidays could help you find joy and be present with your loved ones this holiday season. Dr. Maria Russo-Appel, Medical Director at Swift River reminds us that, ‘The holidays begin and end, but your recovery is forever.
Stay in A Healthy Routine
The holidays are a time of celebration, and for many people, that means deviating from their normal routine. Some people will throw their healthy eating habits to the wind, stop exercising, and mess up their sleep schedule. Especially if you recently completed residential addiction treatment, it is easy to get complacent since you have more freedom. While making a few exceptions is okay, moving away from your healthy routine too much could cause you to relapse. Make a conscious effort to stay in routine and continue to practice healthy habits.
This time of year is about being with the ones you love. Now that you are clean and trying to stay sober during the holidays, these people should also be those who are going to support your recovery efforts. Avoid friends with who you used to get high or drunk with as well as family members who are not understanding. Instead, connect with loved ones or those in recovery themselves who will support your recovery journey.
Be Active in Recovery
A big part of staying sober over the holidays is continuing to be active in your recovery. During this busy time of year, some people become so preoccupied with other things that their recovery may fall to the wayside. Instead of neglecting your sobriety and risking relapse, go to more recovery meetings than normal, check in with your sponsor regularly, and continue to practice the techniques you learned during treatment. An outpatient program can also be helpful to ensure that you stay on the right track. Dr. Russo-Appel added, “Get to fellowship meetings. Several organizations have 24-hour ‘marathons’ on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day—even if you do not regularly attend fellowship meetings it may be useful during such a stressful time to be with others who understand the challenges of staying sober during the holidays.
Many people get carried away by the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, and as a result, they neglect to take care of themselves. Because the holidays can be so stressful and filled with addiction triggers, it becomes especially important to practice self-care at this time. It is okay to say no to invitations because you are overwhelmed or not sign up for every commitment that comes your way. Instead, remember to take time for yourself and relax. Read a book, take a bath, meditate, or practice yoga. All of these activities can help you reduce stress and avoid relapsing over the holidays. Dr. Russo-Appel adds, “Have an exit strategy for events that you plan before you attend, for example, bring your own alcohol-free drinks to parties.”
Beyond The Holidays
Staying sober during the holidays and beyond is about letting go of the idea of perfection. When you stop worrying about what you could be doing and start focusing more on what makes you happy, you will find that this time of year becomes much more enjoyable, and staying sober over the holidays becomes easier. If you have yet to find sobriety, stop waiting to get help. To this, Dr. Russo-Appel says, “If you need treatment for substance abuse please go to a treatment center over the holidays. “There is no benefit to waiting until ‘after the holidays. It can have serious consequences. At Swift River, we offer a variety of programs and services to help people just like you overcome their substance use problems so that that they can find happiness.