So it’s that time of the year again- bright lights, Christmas carols and egg nog! While most people love the holidays, for us struggling in recovery, it could be very difficult. Things are still rocky at home with the fam, the boss keeps getting on your nerves and nothing feels quite right. But that’s ok. It will! But in the meantime, you’ve got to make it through the holidays without drinking or using so you can make it to the other side.
Just because we’re struggling to make sense of early recovery, it doesn’t mean we shut out the world. After all, we’re learning to show up to life as responsible adults. So if you’re faced with attending a holiday engagement where there will be alcohol and you can’t get out of it, here are 5 ways that can help.
- Stay on top of your recovery.
It’s a given that if you’re not attending outpatient, going to meetings, calling your sponsor and doing step work then forget about going to the event. Better safe than sorry. But if you can honestly say that you’re active in recovery, then take these additional precautionary measures the day of the party.
Go to a meeting, call your sponsor or another friend in recovery and PRAY before the event. This disease is cunning, baffling and powerful. So whether you’re feeling on top of the world or feeling a little squirrely taking these steps BEFORE your engagement will certainly help you stay sober.
- Have a refreshment in your hands at all times. (Non-alcoholic of course.)
Usually at holiday parties, the host or catering staff will ask “what are drinking?” It’s been my experience that when I say “nothing. I don’t drink.” they follow-up with “nothing?” Since they didn’t know I was in recovery, they went on to say “really you don’t drink? Come on, it’s Christmas!”
To prevent any temptation, I would carry a club soda or diet coke in my hands at ALL times. That way people wouldn’t bother to ask me if I’d like a drink because they would assume I was already drinking. Moreover, having something in your hand serves as a crutch in social settings. When you’re feeling socially awkward, take a few sips of your soda or juice. Be careful not to drink anything that may trigger you though. For instance, if you’re favorite drink was cranberry O.J. with vodka, DON’T drink cranberry and O.J.
- Any lengths is any lengths.
When I first got sober, my mother passed away. To make matters worse, I was a bartender. Despite the circumstances, I really had surrendered and wanted nothing more than to stay sober. So although I was going through a very difficult time with the passing of my mother, I would call my sponsor and follow her suggestions. Whenever I felt overwhelmed I would go to the bathroom, put a layer of paper towel on the floor, get on my knees and pray to my higher power to keep me sober. IT WORKS!
If I could make it through months of bartending and grieving, by getting on my knees and praying, you can make it through the holidays. The trick here is to do it as many times as necessary. As far as everyone else is concerned, you’re simply going to the bathroom. But for you it can be the difference between life and death.
In early sobriety my anxiety was at an all-time high. But eating somehow quelled that sensation. Now I’m not recommending we all become food addicts as well, but eating sweets can help curb the craving of alcohol. Besides, it’s the holidays! You’ve stayed sober another day, celebrate with holiday treats.
It’s typical to get sudden bursts of depression when we’re first getting sober. If you start to feel down then start to get down! Dancing will help raise your serotonin levels, a neurotransmitter that affects mood and behavior, and produce endorphins. Endorphins (“endogenous morphine”) are endogenous opioid neuropeptides. You’re nervous system naturally releases endorphins during exercise or heavy movement. It’s your body’s way of getting naturally high. And when you’re feeling good about yourself and your surroundings you’re less likely to relapse.
- Bring a friend who has solid recovery to tag along.
If you want more ammunition against relapsing at your next family or office holiday party, bring a friend in recovery. Having a friend there to support you will be a great help. And because helping others stay sober is a must in recovery, you’re giving your friend an opportunity to stay sober as well. Be sure that this person is someone you can trust in recovery and has some time under their belt. Otherwise you both may run the risk of relapsing.
Getting thought the Holidays does not have threatened your sobriety. You can enjoy yourself and not relapse. Recovery is about freedom and JC’s Recovery Center wants to help you get free.