Managing your sobriety can be a challenging endeavor on its own, but with the holidays around the corner, it can be even more difficult. The holidays present a unique set of experiences and feelings that you may not be exposed to on a regular basis. This time of year can cause a slew of emotions to surface. Anxiety, depression, loneliness, anger, and stress are just some of the powerful feelings you may grapple more with during the holiday season. These emotions are often triggers for substance abuse, and the holidays can intensify it. In order to make the most of the season without threatening your sobriety, finding ways to protect your sobriety and your mental health during this time of year is critical.
Preparing for the Holidays
While you will naturally deal with stressors, past trauma, and family dynamics as part of the recovery process, the holidays have a way of bringing them to the forefront of your mind. If you have not done family therapy or you have not seen your family very often in sobriety it can be especially difficult. For some people, the holidays bring people together who are not often in the same space. This can cause tension, family situations, or memories to surface that act as triggers. For others, the holidays can be an isolated and lonely time. Witnessing those around them celebrate with friends and family members can make this time of year unbearably lonely. Both of these experiences can create triggers that threaten sobriety. Regardless of the position you are in this year, the tools and skills you learn in recovery can be applied to any situation and you can make the most of your holiday season without threatening your sobriety.
8 Tips for Staying Sober Over the Holidays
- Create a plan
Having a plan in place can help you feel more confident navigating different situations. If you are going to be around people who trigger you to use drugs or alcohol, consider if you should put yourself in that position. If the situation is unavoidable, planning ways you can navigate situations you will inevitably encounter can help you avoid uncomfortable situations and manage triggers effectively.
- Bring a sober friend
Nothing is worse for your sobriety than being in a situation in which everyone is intoxicated but you. If you find yourself in a situation where you feel triggered to use substances, having a sober friend can help you navigate potential pitfalls. They can help you through these situations and can make sure you hold yourself accountable. You can also plan fun things to do together to minimize your exposure to substances as well.
- Have someone on-call
You may not have the ability to bring someone in-person with you to events you are attending. If you cannot have a sober friend with you, have someone you can call in case you need help. This can be a sober friend, a therapist, a sponsor, or anyone else you trust to help you through difficult times.
- Prepare a response
You may end up in a situation where you are offered something that will threaten your sobriety. Sometimes, people may not be aware of your recovery status. Preparing a response ahead of time can help you avoid awkward conversations and temptation. Reasons such as having plans early in the morning or being a designated driver can help you avoid difficult conversations. Do not feel pressured to have a reason for not indulging. It is perfectly okay to just say “no” and offer no further insight.
- Make your choices based off the event
You do not have to participate in every social outing you are invited to. Some of the holidays are accompanied by more temptation, such as New Year’s Eve. Be aware of what possible situations you may encounter in those settings and make your decision with that in mind.
- Celebrate without substances
The sober community is huge and there are plenty of people looking to have fun without the influence of substances. It is not uncommon for members of support groups to form sober events during the holidays. This provides you with a safe space to enjoy the company of others without the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Get active
While it can be tempting to spend your nights sitting around with friends, inactivity makes people more prone to using drugs or alcohol. Get up and participate in experiential activities to keep your hands and mind busy. Decorating for the holidays, cooking food, and playing games can keep substances out of the picture.
- Limit your time exposed to triggers
While the holidays may be meant for spending time with friends and family, some of those people and environments can bring about triggers that threaten sobriety. Limit your time spent with those who may make you more inclined to use substances. Do not spend time with people you abused substances with in the past. Use your best judgment when making choices about how you spend your time. It is important to prioritize your safety and sobriety above all else.
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, we are here to help over the holidays and any day. Give us a call at 888.855.6877 or send us a message below and one of our admissions counselors will do their best to get you the help you need.