Getting sober takes a lot of time, effort, energy, and willpower to maintain. You are proud of what you have been able to accomplish and the life that sobriety has given you, so it is understandable to be a little nervous when the holidays roll around. You may wonder if you will be able to stay sober when you always drank in years past during the holidays. You may experience cravings, urges, and temptations from family and friends. There are ways to cope and you don’t have to sacrifice your sobriety to have a good time during Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanza, Christmas, or whatever holidays you find yourself celebrating. This article will give you ways to prepare for the holidays when you are sober.
Always Have a Plan
You should never go into a difficult situation without a plan in place. This is especially true during the holidays when you know you will be around people who will be drinking. Being around alcohol or drugs can be a major trigger for those in recovery, and you need to prepare for this. You can work with your therapist by creating a relapse prevention plan. This will include coping strategies, people to reach out to, and more information to help you stay sober and prevent you from relapsing. By having a plan, you will feel more confident about going to a holiday party where there may be triggers.
Identify Your Triggers
Making a relapse prevention plan involves being aware of what your triggers are. This is especially important during this time of year because you may be around more of your triggers than normal. By knowing what your triggers are, you can create coping mechanisms to deal with them as they come. This will help you stay sober during holiday parties where booze or drugs may be available.
Have a Sober Friend
It is extremely helpful to bring a sober friend with you to a holiday party because the two of you can stay sober together and have a great time. Your sober friend can be a close friend, family member, sponsor, or another sober individual that you feel safe and comfortable around. If your sober friend can’t come to the party with you, ask them to be available should you need to call them. This will help you have an outlet when you are experiencing triggers or cravings during the party. Your sober friend can hold you accountable and remind you of why you chose to get sober, helping you maintain your sobriety during the holidays.
Keep Yourself Busy
Boredom is a common trigger for relapse. If you find yourself just sitting around with people that are drinking, you are more likely to pick up a drink and break your sobriety. Staying busy will help distract you from potential triggers. Move around the party talking to people, suggest going out to a Christmas market, or make some food for everyone. This will keep you focused on other things so you aren’t anxious about staying sober and you are less likely to relapse.
Go to Sober Events
The holidays don’t require drugs or alcohol to celebrate. Remember that there are sober support groups in your area that most likely throw their own holiday parties, such as Alcoholics Anonymous. Going to a sober holiday party will keep you comfortable and less anxious about relapsing as you hang out with like-minded people that found happiness in sobriety too.
Have a Response For When You’re Offered Alcohol
You don’t owe anyone an explanation for why you don’t want to drink. You also are not required to tell anyone that you are in recovery. Even so, you may find yourself in a situation where someone is offering you a beer or other alcoholic beverage because they don’t know you’re in recovery. Having a response to these kinds of situations such as “I’m driving tonight” or another reason that you can’t drink. If you feel comfortable, you can tell the person that you don’t drink. Having this prepared response will release anxiety and have you ready to deny drinks when they are offered to you.
Decide Which Parties You Go To
Some celebrations will have more triggers than others. For example, New Year’s Eve is often filled with various kinds of alcohol to celebrate the coming of the new year. You have every right to say no to any celebration you don’t feel comfortable going to, and you don’t have to give anyone an explanation for turning the invitation down. Be smart about what parties you go to and always have a plan in place for the ones you do decide to attend.
Remember You Can Leave At Any Time
There is no shame in leaving a party early, especially if it is for the sake of your mental health and sobriety. No party is worth sacrificing your sobriety. If you feel overwhelmed and you need to leave, then you can simply leave. Taking care of yourself should be your number one priority, and you don’t have to apologize for it. Don’t stay in uncomfortable situations for the benefit of others. Leave if you feel it is the best decision for you.
At Northstar Transitions, we understand how difficult the holidays can be, especially when you are newly sober. Preparing for all of the parties can seem daunting, but remember having a plan in place beforehand will help you maintain your sobriety in environments full of triggers and temptations. By taking the proper steps to prepare for the holidays, you can maintain your sobriety and feel good about your decision to do so.
Creating a plan, identifying your triggers, and having the support of a sober friend can help you manage the holiday events and parties without jeopardizing your recovery. There are other ways to celebrate holidays without drinking or using drugs, and you will get to enjoy these as you spend the holidays sober. If you need help creating a plan for the holidays or need relapse prevention strategies, contact us today at (303) 558-6400. We want you to feel comfortable and confident in your sobriety!