The year-end holiday season can be a confusing blend of good times and joy on one hand, yet stress and depression on the other. If you’re trying to stay sober after one or more bouts with alcohol addiction, the stress and depression side of the holidays can derail even the best-intentioned recovery program. You have more tools and strategies to help you stay sober at this time of year than you probably realize.
Maintaining Sobriety During the Holidays
First and foremost, take stock of the conditions and stresses that might encourage your drinking and take steps to avoid them before alcohol becomes the only solution. Does shopping for presents create undue stress? Plan your shopping early, do as much online shopping as you can, cut down on your shopping list and develop a general shopping strategy that helps you avoid crowds and cranky store clerks. Do encounters with relatives that you only see once or twice a year bother you? Bring a friend to family gatherings, or stay closer to family members that don’t bother you. If that’s not possible, you may need to stay away from family parties if the risk of your relying on alcohol to get through them is too high.
Have a Plan for Avoiding Relapse
Develop a strategy that helps you deal with alcohol before the inevitable encounter happens. If you’re attending a party where you know that someone will offer you a drink, commit yourself to saying “no” before you get to the party. Commit before you get there to leave the party if the pressure to drink becomes more than you think you can handle. Talk to your friends to help you through these occasions. If they are good friends, they’ll appreciate and encourage your efforts to stay sober and they’ll help to reduce the pressure. Don’t let yourself get hungry at holiday parties. Hunger can increase stresses that lead to desires to drink.
If you are in a group recovery program, make time to attend meetings more frequently during the holidays. Keep your recovery counselor’s phone number with you and don’t hesitate to call a recovery center when you feel the pressure building beyond what you can handle. Contact your counselor or recovery center immediately if you do slip up. Getting back on track as soon as is possible after a relapse will prevent further damage to your recovery efforts.
Focus on the positive and give yourself a break from holiday activities. Holiday gatherings aren’t all about stressful encounters with relatives or spending money in crowded stores. Try to enjoy the company of people you haven’t seen all year, and on festive decorations and scenery. Staying active and exercising, meditating, or getting fresh air during a short walk can also relieve an urge to drink.
If you need help or want to discuss strategies for staying away from alcohol during the holidays, please contact our staff at Hired Power at your earliest convenience at 800-910-9299. Our counselors can provide the best information to address your situation before you lose control over it.