The holiday season is a time of cheer, happiness, spending time with loved ones, and taking a break from the demands of everyday life. But for individuals in recovery from alcohol addiction, the holiday season can lead to increased feelings of anxiety, depression, and vulnerability. The holidays can be stressful for everyone. Stress is a major contributor to relapse, so it’s important to understand how to successfully manage alcohol addiction recovery during the holidays.
The months of the holiday season can present an increased amount of triggers that are a threat to continued recovery. This is particularly true for those in their early stages of recovery, where this will be the first holiday where they will not partake in alcohol consumption. Despite that, the holidays do not have to result in a return to self-destructive behaviors. By taking the time to prepare a strategy for your holiday events, you will be able to get through the holiday festivities with your sobriety and mental health undamaged. Not only that, but you may even discover new possibilities of self-acceptance and joy.
For many individuals in recovery, it is not only the presence of alcohol at social events that triggers relapse, but the stress of social obligations and family gatherings. Especially for those in early stages of recovery, where family relationships may still be strained. Addiction takes a toll on every aspect of an individual’s life- including family. If you are going to be spending time during the holidays with people or in situations that have a risk of creating an emotional issue or triggering unpleasant feelings, it’s best to make a plan for how to manage stressors before it reaches the boiling point.
If you feel that being around certain family members or situations may jeopardize your recovery from alcohol addiction, it’s okay to make alternative plans that will allow you to celebrate the holidays in a way that’s more comfortable. But, if you would like to participate in normal holiday traditions with family members, it’s best to create a plan that will help you maintain your emotional health. Some ways that will help manage stress include:
- Keep a positive mindset
- Taking a walk
- Get plenty of rest
- Set appropriate limits
- Accept there are things that you cannot control
Be Open with Your Feelings
If you plan on spending the holidays with close friends or family members, being open and communicating your needs and feelings is extremely beneficial. Inform them of what you need in order to be secure and supported during this vulnerable time. The best thing a person struggling with alcohol addiction can do in recovery is be open with their feelings in order to express any concerns they have in order to prevent a negative outcome. Sitting down with their loved ones and discussing whether or not there is anything they should know about your individual triggers is important so they know how to support you.
However, if you don’t feel comfortable or aren’t ready to discuss your addiction, it’s best to have some planned responses to help turn down drinks or explain why you won’t be drinking. Ultimately, it’s up to you to determine how public or private you want your addiction recovery to be. You need to do what is best for you, your mental health, and your sobriety.
Make a Plan
There is no shortage of festive parties during the holiday season. Similar to most events, alcohol is usually a staple at holiday parties. If you don’t feel comfortable being around alcohol or others who are drinking, simply don’t go. Your health is the most important thing in recovery, and recovery is a time to focus on yourself first. However, there are ways to manage a holiday party if you feel you are able to attend.
When attending a party with alcohol present in recovery, it’s important to only attend if you think you can do so without jeopardizing your recovery. Bring along a sober friend who is willing to offer moral support and leave when you want to leave. Make sure that your sober friend is one that understands your addiction and supports your recovery. Ensure that you have your own transportation arranged so you are not dependent on someone else. You can also bring along your own non-alcoholic beverage so you have something safe in hand to drink.
Find Support in Recovery
Perhaps the most important thing you can do to manage your alcohol addiction during the holidays is finding support within the recovery community. Attending regular group meetings is a crucial way to develop relationships with other people who are experiencing the same things that you are. No matter if you are staying home for the holidays or traveling somewhere else, 12-step meetings are available virtually anywhere at any time. A simple internet search will allow you to receive support from those who are also in recovery from alcohol addiction.
Continuing to actively engage in ongoing recovery treatment methods is critical in protecting your physical and mental health. If you need help finding the right treatment method during this challenging time, please contact us today to take the next step.