Event planning, hosting, family tensions and loneliness can all amount to a heap of triggers around holiday time. Check out our 10 tips for staying sober during the holidays.
The holiday season can be one of the hardest times for those in recovery to avoid drinking. High expectations, holiday blues, family feuds, old memories and an abundance of alcohol everywhere are just some of the factors that tempt people to drink. How can you navigate the endless parties and events that you will likely be invited to?
Fortunately, it may be easier than you think to get through the holidays sober and enjoy yourself while you are at it. This time of year is about celebrating with family and friends and creating new memories. There is no reason why avoiding alcohol should hold you back from all the fun. If things get to be too much, remember to up your meetings, call your sponsor or contact your local alcohol rehab centre as needed. Short of that, we offer these 10 tips to help you maintain your sobriety during this often trying time.
1. Avoid Family Confrontations
Family tensions are a major trigger, as family issues may be a large contributor to your addiction in the first place. Of course, the holidays are a time to come together with loved ones, but keep in mind that you may need to draw boundaries when things get uncomfortable for you, pick your battles and accept when things are out of your control. Especially if you are in early sobriety, it may be a good idea to avoid family confrontations altogether, as best you can.
2. Enlist a Sober Ally for Holiday Parties
You may receive an abundance of invitations to alcohol-fuelled festive parties, but in the early stages of recovery, you might want to avoid attending them – it is okay to say no. If you do attend an event where you know there will be booze around, take a sober friend with you as a means of support or confide in a trusted family member. Remember, you can always leave if things start to feel like too much.
3. Have a Plan to Say No to Alcohol
Some people just don’t get it. They may offer you drinks repeatedly despite your declining, especially if they are intoxicated. Sometimes having a drink already in hand makes it easier to turn down drinks without having to offer an explanation. Sometimes you will need to be firm with people who will not stop pushing; sometimes you will need to make up excuses. Whatever the case, having a plan to say no beforehand will alleviate some pressure in the heat of the moment.
4. Check Your Expectations
Sometimes, people turn to alcohol when the holiday fails to live up to their expectations, which is why it is important to focus on what is most important. You are not perfect and neither is your family. Take each moment with your loved ones as it comes, and remember that life goes on even if the festivities are not quite what you expected.
5. Call Your Sponsor
If you have a sponsor, it is a good idea to check in with them for some words of support before you step into a touchy situation. Likewise, do not be shy about giving them a call if needed. If you do not have one yet, now might be a good time to find a sponsor.
6. Start a New Holiday Tradition
If the holidays have been a particularly booze-filled affairs in previous years, this year is your opportunity to try something new. There are plenty of ways to find joy during the holidays without having to stick to the same old routine. Try attending Christmas at someone else’s house if you normally host, or start a new tradition. Remember to keep the stress factor to a minimum and make your sobriety your priority.
7. Avoid Over-Committing
This season is stressful for all sorts of reasons, but all that planning and gift shopping for your friends and family can turn into a burden. You may feel pressured to impress guests or create a good experience for people who are relying on you, but it is your responsibility to keep your commitments in check. Know what you can handle, and say no to the rest. Your loved ones and dear friends understand what you are going through and what you are trying to achieve, so they will not be disappointed to hear that you are sticking to the right path by cutting back on commitments.
8. Help Someone Else
One way to fight off the self-pity pangs this holiday is to remember that there are people who are worse off than you. Use this as a reason to feel grateful for what you have and get out there to help others. Donate your Christmas wish list to your favourite charities, check your local non-profit registry for volunteer needs or offer some words of support to others in recovery who may need them.
9. Keep Attending Meetings
This should go without saying, but we all need a reminder from time to time. It is vital that you continually attend meetings regardless of how much you think you have progressed, because it only takes something small to entice you to drink again. Countless addiction sufferers have relapsed as a result of ignoring meetings – you might need to ramp yours up this holiday season.
10. Remember: You are Not Alone
No matter how tough times get or how tempted you feel to take a drink, it is important to remember that you are not the only one who is sober during the holidays. Keep your mind focused on your goals, and at the end of the day, you will feel extremely proud of yourself for making it through the holidays. Remind yourself of why you got sober in the first place – this will likely make that drink seem much less appealing.
The qualified staff at The Cabin Singapore is here to help you get through your struggles – if you feel you need help, we are only a phone call away. Contact us today to learn how we can help keep you on the road to recovery.