The holidays can be a joyful time of year, with plenty of festivities, celebration and time with loved ones. At the same time, this time of year has its downsides.
The holidays are rough on a lot of people, for a lot of different reasons. For recovering addicts, there are often multiple triggers, from stress and financial worry to family issues and company Christmas parties, it seems like holidays are a dangerous time for addicts in recovery.
It doesn’t have to be that way, though. No matter how you are feeling about the holidays, there are ways to cope. Whether it’s saying no to your boss when he tries to pour you a drink, handling a dysfunctional family get-together or dealing with depression, there is a solution.
What You May Be Feeling This Time Of Year
This may be your first holiday season clean, or maybe your 10th or 20th. If you are new to recovery, you might be experiencing a wide range of feelings and situations that are challenging to you. Here are some examples:
You are just out of treatment, and are still separated from your family, possibly your children. You are devastated and want to hide until Christmas is over.
You’ve recovered, but your bank account hasn’t, and you are feeling bad that you can’t afford gifts for your family.
You want to spend Christmas with your family, but you know there will be drinking or using, or abusive/dysfunctional behavior and you aren’t sure you can handle it.
You feel like you should be happy and excited about the holidays, but you just can’t.
Everywhere you look people are drinking, you don’t even want to go to the grocery store because the festive alcohol displays are triggering you.
These are just a few examples of common issues faced by the recovering addict. You may be feeling depressed or anxious or stressed. You may be grieving because you are not with loved ones. You may be wanting to spend time with loved ones but you know they are unhealthy and you don’t want to risk your recovery. You want to accept the company Christmas party invitation, but you don’t know how to handle it when you are offered a drink. It just seems like there is a bullet to be dodged around every corner, so how do you cope?
Strategies For Coping With Holiday Blues
If you are feeling blue this holiday season, no matter what the reason, there is one sure-fired way to get through it: Service.
No matter how bleak your situation may seem to be, there is someone you can help this holiday season. There is a way you can join in the holiday spirit of giving and find a way to contribute. Whether it is volunteering at a food bank, donating items for the homeless or to foster child organizations, there is something that you can offer to make someone else’s holiday brighter. Volunteer at the local senior center or assisted nursing facility. There are people there who do not have a family to visit them. Help a newcomer. Go to marathon meetings and make coffee.
You are most likely not the only person in your area that is feeling this way, or who is experiencing your particular problem. Find your holiday recovery tribe and go do something together. Get together for dinner, or go do something fun.
Remember, whatever is going on right now, it’s temporary. Next year will be different, one way or another.
Tips For Holiday Sobriety
This time of year may require some extra vigilance on your part. There may be an increased exposure to situations that can trigger cravings. There are some simple solutions though:
Increase your meeting attendance. You may be busy, but your sobriety needs to be a priority. Double up on your meetings.
Be open about what is going on with you. The worst thing you can do is keep it to yourself. If you are experiencing some cravings, or struggling with the blues, talk about it. Let people know so they can support you.
Utilize the buddy system. Is there a holiday party you just have to attend? If you know there will be alcohol served, or if you feel that the situation may be stressful, take a clean and sober buddy with you.
Role-play. Practice saying “no, thank-you.” You don’t need to break anonymity if you don’t want to, and it’s not rude to decline alcohol!. A simple “I don’t drink” will suffice. Practice makes perfect.
Get creative. If you have a tiny or non-existent budget this year, employ some creativity and find new ways to celebrate that don’t involve money. Look for ways to be of service with your family. Introduce your children to the world of volunteering. Make handmade gifts. If you have children, don’t forget to look into resources that are available to help with Christmas gifts. It’s okay to accept help, one day you will pay it forward.
Getting Help For Addiction
If you don’t want to spend another Christmas or New Year addicted, give yourself the gift of recovery. Broadway Treatment Center can help you overcome addiction and live a free, healthy and happy life. Our award-winning program offers cutting edge treatment for addiction, and provides inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment and jail diversion programs for men and women. Call 714-443-8218 today for a confidential consultation.