Recovery During the Holidays

Tips for staying sober, preventing relapse and avoiding the holiday blues

Holidays for some is the best time of the year. Yet, holidays in recovery can be one of the most difficult times of the year. In fact, according to the CDC, the most dangerous times of the year for drug-and-alcohol-related deaths are December and January, and the American Addiction Centers survey data reveals that Americans drink more during the holidays.

When asked how the holidays impacted their drinking behavior, about 29 percent of participants reported drinking more during the holidays. The American Addiction Centers survey data also reveal most respondents – more than 84% – were moderately to overwhelmingly stressed during the holidays.

Individuals in recovery can find themselves approaching the holidays bracing themselves — hoping to avoid an icy slope in their recovery journey. Every individual has their own triggers and stressors during the holidays; having a plan in place can help minimize triggers or help you work through them.

Let’s talk through a few tips for staying sober, preventing relapse and avoiding the holiday blues.

Recovery is a one-day-at-a-time endeavor, no matter the season.

Tips to staying sober during the holiday season

1. Plan Ahead! 

Try to make accommodations to keep control in YOUR hands. Take your own vehicle, take a sober companion with you for support and pay close attention to relapse triggers: H.A.L.T: Hungry. Angry. Lonely. Tired. If you feel relapse triggers coming on, leave early.

2. Adjust Your Attitude – Rewrite Your Holiday Story.

Access and seek support about the emotions and expectations you have wrapped up in the holidays—especially if you feel resentful, or if you replay in your mind old childhood experiences and memories.

The ability to explore and challenge your internal monologue that might be a carryover from addiction will be impactful to rewriting your story. Once identified, you can break down defensive walls, forgive and approach the holiday season with a more positive attitude.

3. Be of Service.

Look for opportunities to be of service during the holidays. This could be serving a meal at a homeless shelter, reaching out to a newcomer at a meeting, spending time with an elderly loved one or neighbor – the list goes on. There are a million different ways to give back, pay it forward and be of service. When you take the opportunity to connect with others— to see, value and honor their experience — you exercise empathy. You exist outside of yourself, and you begin to notice all the blessings that exist already in your life.

4. Avoid Relapse Situations

At family gatherings and social events, tote around your favorite non-alcoholic drink. Bring a non-alcoholic drink you enjoy, and others won’t get the chance to pester you about your sobriety.

If thoughts about having a drink creep in — shut them down immediately. Your journey through recovery has not taught you how to control your drinking, your brain is still wired to be addicted.

5. Take Care of Yourself – Literally

Celebrate the holiday season and the fullness of your sober life by taking time for yourself. At the base, proper nutrition, exercise and restorative sleep can do wonders for your well-being. If your body and mind are feeling strong and healthy – you are setting yourself up for staying on the path of sobriety during the holidays. It is also to nourish your spirit, through exercises such as personal reflection and connection with those you love. Let your spirit be your guide through reflection and meditation.


Getting Help for Staying Sober During The Holidays with Unity Recovery Services

If you’re feeling the pressure, seek support! Unity Recovery Services offers peer-based support, resources and connections to programs for those in recovery. We offer one-on-one support services, support groups, and workshops to support individuals in recovery.

Our program allows all individuals to come to seek help when they are ready to make the change. We can guarantee a safe welcoming environment that knows the struggles that the holidays bring on the journey of recovery and how to stay sober during the holidays.

Seeking support? Reach out to us today, remember recovery is a one-day-at-a-time endeavor, no matter the season.

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