The following opportunity has been shared on behalf of a member or affiliate of the Austin Area African American Behavioral Health Network (4ABHN).

25 Holiday Sobriety Tips

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 can be rough on a lot of people, for a lot of different reasons. For individuals in recovery, there are often multiple triggers, from stress and financial worry to family issues and company parties, it seems like holidays are a dangerous time for those 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.

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 or using, 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. 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 or drug. It just seems like there is a bullet to be dodged around every corner, so how do you cope?

Consider these 25 Holiday Sobriety Tips from Communities for Recovery:

  1. Stay away from the first drink. If you don’t start drinking, you won’t have to worry about stopping.
  2. Easy does it. When you feel overwhelmed or anxious, relax. Take a deep breath and a few minutes to physically and mentally calm yourself, and you will feel more in control.
  3. Remember the serenity prayer. Ask for the strength to accept the things you cannot change, the courage to change the things you can and the wisdom to know the difference.
  4. Change old routines. If your usual holiday celebrations include parties and events where you know there will be alcohol served or drugs available, change it up. Seek out get-togethers that do not center around drinking or using, and avoid temptation by celebrating the season with others in recovery to remove the temptation.
  5. Use the 24-hour plan. It is much more realistic to pledge that you will not take a drink in the next 24 hours than never again. Decide that for today, you will not drink, no matter what.
  6. Don’t test your willpower. Get rid of all of the alcohol in your house, including bottles “for guests” or special occasions.
  7. Remember your last drink or your last hangover, DUI, job loss, or drunken fight. Be honest with yourself about these memories and remember how ugly the “good old days” truly were.
  8. Find a sponsor, check with your rehabilitation center or church group to locate a sponsor who can guide you on the path to sobriety and provide the support only a fellow addict can give.
  9. Fend off loneliness. Isolation can be dangerous. Spend time with family and friends who will support your recovery and provide companionship and positive reinforcement.
  10. Get active. When your mind and body are engaged, there is no room for them to want a drink. Go for a run or swim, play basketball with friends, or kick a soccer ball around with the kids. You’ll feel energized, alive, and best of all, sober.
  11. Watch out for hidden alcohol or drugs. Some baked goods, such as rum cake, may contain liquor. Ask the host if any of the food may have alcohol, and have something else instead.
  12. Eat or drink something yummy. Instead of having a drink, treat yourself to a food or non-alcoholic beverage that you enjoy.
  13. Get plenty of rest. A rested body and clear mind make it much easier to stay strong and make smart decisions. It’s common for people in recovery to have sleep problems at first, but give yourself time, relax with something non-alcoholic (such as caffeine-free tea and a book), and your sleep will return to normal.
  14. Make use of “telephone therapy”. Exchange numbers with others who are in recovery, and use the number not just when you are feeling challenged, but to share good news and even just check in with each other every day or so.
  15. Be good to yourself. Addiction beats you up. Now that you’re in recovery, treat yourself kindly. Buy a new shirt or shoes, get a massage, or whatever else makes you feel good about yourself and how far you’ve come.
  16. Clean your mental house. Get rid of the negativity. Think positive thoughts, and speak to yourself with supportive, loving words instead of harsh, critical ones.
  17. Take responsibility for your actions. Make a list of those you have harmed, and make amends whenever possible keep commitments.
  18. Prove to yourself and others that you are honest and dependable.
  19. Be grateful. Be thankful for the littlest things that bring joy, like a beautiful day, a dependable friend or one more day of sobriety.
  20. Live in the now. You cannot change yesterday or control tomorrow. Just do your best right now.
  21. Heal yourself by helping others. Volunteer your time at a soup kitchen, animal shelter, hospital or charity. When you help others, you feel better about yourself. Keep it simple.
  22. Listen. Be willing to hear the words of your sponsor and others who have long-term sobriety. Keep an open mind to new ideas and viewpoints.
  23. Embrace change. Change is good, especially when you are becoming a better person. Allow yourself to let go of the past.
  24. Share your happiness. Let others know when you feel good — about yourself, your sobriety, your life. A joyful life is the reward for sobriety.
  25. Find your own way. Realize that everyone has his or her own tools for staying sober, and they may not be right for you. The “best” way is the one that works for you.

Remember, whatever is going on right now, it is temporary. Next year will be different, one way or another. If you don’t want to spend another Christmas or New Year addicted, give yourself the gift of recovery.  Call Communities for Recovery.  We are a safe place of acceptance, a place that celebrates commUNITY.  Need support? Check out any one of our 40 recovery meetings each week or stop by CforR to chat with a Peer Recovery Support Specialist during Coffee Talk or Community Coaching.  Would you like to send a holiday card to family or friends?  Let us know and we’ll be happy to help you reach out.

“A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.” – Amelia Earhart

Please consider a single act of kindness by participating in #GivingTuesday at…/communities-for-recovery so that we may continue our mission of supportive programs for long term recovery and co-occurring mental health challenges.

Warmest Regards,
Communities for Recovery

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