“To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength.” – Criss Jami
Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the six-week period that will carry us through Christmas and into the New Year. Whatever our personal beliefs, this time usually includes events, parties, and family gatherings, often making us feel as much stress as gratitude. Staying sober during the holidays can be a challenge.
For those of us in recovery, this season can be emotionally taxing. The combination of stressful environments, public drinking, and the burden of expectations associated with the people we’ll and the places we “have” to go, have the potential to create instability in our lives that makes it hard to focus on the good things.
But, this time of year doesn’t have to be filled with anxiety. Whether we’ve been clean and sober for just a little while or for a long time, we don’t have to fall prey to our old patterns. With a little preparation, we can participate in the holidays while also being comfortable in our recovery.
Make a Plan, then Plan for it to Change
Since we aren’t living in the cloud of alcohol and other drugs, we are in a position to ensure that we take care of ourselves and take responsibility for protecting our recovery. Making a plan for staying sober during the holidays – and doing our best to stick to the plan – will do a great deal to keep us on the right track. By making a schedule of where we will be and when we will be there, we can limit the sense of “free fall” that comes from not knowing what’s next. If we build that schedule around our recovery and share it with someone who understands our disease, then we can then concentrate on being with loved ones while avoiding or reducing exposure to situations that might be dangerous. Since our plans involve people and people have changing schedules, we should expect some of them to fall through and build in some flexibility, but still do our best to hold firm.
Staying Sober During the Holidays: Recovery Comes First
Whether we are spending the holidays at home or away, we shouldn’t break stride when it comes to the things we do for our recovery. We aren’t going to be doing anyone any favors if we over-extend ourselves at the expense of our recovery. The disease of addiction doesn’t take a holiday, and neither should our recovery. There are support meetings available almost everywhere and some groups even put on “marathon meetings” all day on holidays. Making sure that our holiday includes our regular (or maybe extra) meeting attendance – and staying in contact with our support network – will help us stay focused on our main goal, staying clean and sober.
The holidays can be a source of stress, but living in recovery gives us the tools we need to approach them in a new way. By planning, being honest about our limitations, and keeping our feet grounded in recovery, we can enjoy the holidays with family and friends.Back to Blog