Dealing With the Holidays When New to Recovery Season Can Be Dangerous in Early Sobriety

The following article about dealing with the holidays was written by
Gregg C., a counselor with the Crossroads Centre in Antigua, West
Indies. Excerpted from About.com

Dangerous Times for the Newly Sober

The holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's) can be a time of
great joy and celebration, or a time of great pain, sorrow and
depression. These can be particularly dangerous times for people who
are in recovery, especially those in early recovery.

Drinking and using substances were ways that we celebrated the joy, or
medicated the pain. What the holidays mean to us and how we participate
in them might help us to remain clean and sober.

An Essential Part of Recovery

Thanksgiving has its roots in the end of the growing season, where
people would gather what they grew and take stock of their harvest. In
the United States, we think about the Indians and early settlers,
sharing their food with each other.

Thanksgiving is usually a time when we get together with family and
friends, to share our food and company with each other. This is not any
different than what we learn in recovery. We take stock of what we have
and are grateful for it. Remember, "A grateful heart will never drink."
We then share what we have with others. This is an essential part of
recovery.

Celebrate Life!

Christmas seems to be the combination of a number of beliefs and
rituals adopted from many people. However, most people, at least of
Christian beliefs, celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. He was someone
who wrestled with his spirituality and humanity. Sound familiar?

When we were drinking or drugging, we were moving quickly towards death
and were engaged in destruction. Christmas can be a celebration of life
and creation instead. We celebrate life, a birth, on Christmas. We can
learn the rewards of embracing our spirituality and humanity.

Letting Go of the Past

New Year's is a letting go of the past year and embracing the new one.
It is depicted, sometimes in a comical way, as Father Time handing the
baton of a new year to a young baby. In a way, isn't this what recovery
is? Our old addicted life handing the reigns over to our new recovering
self? A common practice around this time is New Year's resolutions.

Of course, most of these are broken in a short period of time. However,
for alcoholics and addicts, to break our resolution to remain clean and
sober is to die. And that is the good news. We usually live a life of
destruction until that happens. Let's make that resolution to remain
clean and sober, and to do what is necessary to achieve that.

Ask For Help

There are many specific strategies or "tools" to increase our ability
to remain sober and clean through the holidays. Ask your sponsor or
others in recovery how they do it. Get support from your family and
friends. Tell them that recovery is important and you need their help.
There are a number of books or articles that contain helpful hints.

The Internet is a great resource for finding suggestions or people that
can support you during the holidays. Try helping someone else in need.
As they say in the 12-step programs, "Don't drink or drug, go to
meetings, ask for help." KISS (Keep It Simply Spiritual).

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