Staying sober during the holidays isn’t always easy. Addicts with years of recovery can even struggle during these times. Holidays are considered times of joy and celebration. But some things can make these occasions difficult.
The good news is that you can overcome this. In this post, you’ll discover a lot about sobriety during holidays. Learning and planning help you during these times. It’s possible for you to enjoy holidays sober and happy.
The Link Between Holidays and Sobriety Struggles
You may wonder why it’s hard to stay sober during holidays. You may spend your holidays with supportive family and friends. You may truly enjoy activities with them. So why does relapse loom around the corner?
The big link is relapsing and triggers often happen during holidays. Each addict has unique triggers. But there are common ones that many deal with. Some examples include:
- increased anxiety
- increased depression
- being around alcohol or drugs
- being around people who use alcohol or drugs
- inconsistent treatment
- changes in daily routines
- feeling judged
- feeling excluded or like an outsider
- being questioned about your sobriety
Again, this isn’t every single trigger. But these are often related to holidays. For example, there may be alcohol present at family functions. You may skip recovery meetings when you travel. Being around family can trigger the emotions listed. Being asked about your recovery can be difficult.
As you can see, cheerful times can produce triggering events. Triggers are why addicts struggle with sobriety. But you don’t have to miss out on holiday fun. A bit of planning and support may help.
This post is designed to help you stay sober during holidays. You’ll find the info you need here. Some of these tips may be new to you. Don’t be afraid to give them a shot. It’s possible to enjoy these special times sober and happy.
Create A Relapse Prevention Plan
Creating a relapse prevention plan is a great way to stay sober. This will help you deal with triggers during the holidays. Without a plan, you may feel a stronger urge to relapse. Knowing you have safe options can help. Your plan will be unique to meet your needs. It should also be tailored to the situations you’ll face. Start with these tips and holiday relapse prevention activities:
- Make a list of your holiday plans and rank them. For example, opening presents with your parents may be a low trigger situation. A large dinner with extended family can be a high trigger situation. Jot down all of your plans and assess them. Using a scale of 1 to 10 works for some people. Or you can simply rank situations as low, medium, or high triggers.
- Bring a non-alcoholic beverage to enjoy. Wine is common at holiday dinners. Many people drink champagne on New Year’s Eve. Buy a few bottles of alcohol-free cider and similar drinks. This helps you avoid awkward questions or feeling left out. And people will be less likely to offer you alcohol.
- Stick to your routine as much as possible. Holidays can be hectic. Unpredictable situations are major triggers. Find ways to follow your daily rituals. Enjoy your morning cup of coffee. Go for a jog before dinner. Bring a book you’ve been reading. These little things can help you feel comfortable and in control.
- Plan answers and responses ahead of time. Questions about recovery can be hard to handle. Even if people have good intentions, you may feel triggered. Come up with some responses ahead of time. Think about what you’ll be asked. Use answers you’re comfortable with. Pick a simple response to use when you’re offered alcohol. Planning can make these scenarios easier.
- Keep in touch with supportive people. Some addicts have sponsors from groups. Others have trusted friends or family. Reach out to your support system during holidays. A simple text or phone call can help a lot. You can talk through a trigger or craving episode. Having others to help you is great for relapse prevention.
Tailor these tips to suit your needs. Write or type your plan. Keep it in your purse or wallet during holidays. You can refer to it during tough times. Feel free to add ideas to your plan, too. You may think of more ideas during the holidays. As long as your plans are healthy, you’re good to go.
Understand Emotions During Sober Holidays
You’ve learned about the link between sobriety struggles and holidays. It’s also important to work through the emotions you feel. A relapse prevention plan is great. But that doesn’t mean you won’t feel stressed, triggered, or sad.
Allow yourself to feel these emotions. Suppressing feelings can make you feel worse. Just don’t let them get the best of you. Below are some tips for understanding your emotions. You’ll also find some info about working through your feelings.
- It’s important to validate your emotions. Tell yourself “It’s okay to feel…” followed by your emotion. Don’t shame yourself or believe emotions are bad. Of course, you want to be happy during holidays. But ignoring bad feelings won’t help.
- Remember that emotions are temporary. Sadness and stress will pass naturally. Don’t try to rush the process. Holiday stressors during recovery are rough. But your bad feelings won’t last forever.
- Remember that drug cravings are temporary, too. Triggers can make you crave drugs are alcohol. Triggers may pop up even with a relapse prevention plan. But be rational about cravings. They may only last a few minutes or hours. In the next section, you’ll learn about safely handling cravings.
- Speak about your feelings or write them down. There are two reasons to do this. First, it can help you release negative emotions. Write in a journal or talk to someone. You’ll likely feel better after this. Secondly, writing about feelings and cravings may help recovery. You can look back on the writing later on. Seeing how you overcame hard feelings can motivate you. Consider taking your notes to your next recovery program meeting, too.
Overall, let yourself feel every feeling. Whether it’s good or bad, don’t ignore it. Your emotions are totally valid. Remembering this is important for recovery. Emotions during holidays can be tricky. But there are no wrong feelings. You can work through tough times.
Holiday Stress Relief Ideas
Your relapse prevention plan has a main purpose. It helps you avoid or overcome triggers. It also helps avoid negative emotions. But that isn’t always possible. You’ll need ways to relieve stress to maintain sobriety during the holidays. Here are some simple ideas for letting out your cravings and stress.
- Spend five minutes meditating or deep breathing. Find a quiet spot where you can be alone. You can find free videos and apps for meditating. Just five minutes of these activities can help. You’ll likely notice reduced stress and anxiety.
- Run or walk to release energy. Get your endorphins flowing to reduce stress. Research proves that physical activity releases endorphins. These are hormones that make you feel good. Run, walk, or exercise. Do this until your craving passes.
- Make a list of reasons you are in recovery. Why did you get sober? What motivates you? What are the consequences of relapse? Make a motivating list. You’ll see why you should stay sober.
- Do a self-care activity. This can be something simple that you enjoy. Take a hot, relaxing bath. Give yourself a manicure. Watch a funny movie. Whatever makes you happy while sober – do it. This passes time and ensures you’re taking care of yourself.
Again, these are just some simple ideas. They’re designed to get you started. You can tailor them to meet your needs. Hopefully, stress and cravings will be minor. But if they aren’t, that’s okay. There are healthy ways to relieve stress. Doing these things will help you enjoy holidays sober and happy.
Treating Addiction During The Holidays
If it’s possible, stick to your addiction treatment during holidays. This can mean many different things. Perhaps your IOP still has meetings at this time. Or there are support groups (AA, NA and More) wherever you’re visiting. Just know that there are options. You never have to feel alone in your recovery.
Lastly, relapsing doesn’t mean you’ve failed. Recovery is a hard road. Sobriety and happiness take time. Trying your best is what’s important. By following the tips in this post, you may succeed. But a relapse during holidays can be fixed. It’s normal to struggle even with the right tools.
If you still find sobriety difficult, it’s best to seek out treatment. Help is available on and around holidays. There’s never a bad time to talk to someone. Assess your struggles and needs. This can help you stay on track or get back on track during hard times. Overall, just know you can enjoy the holidays while in recovery.