If you or someone you love is recovering from addiction, the holidays can be a difficult time. Dealing with this busy time of year and all that comes with it can be a struggle for anyone, but the holidays present an extra challenge for those who are trying to remain sober. It is important for friends and family to support their newly sober loved one, especially during the holidays, in order to help prevent relapse.
Family Time Means Stress
Holidays can be a tough time of year for a variety of reasons. First of all, it is a time when family togetherness is expected. But what if your family isn’t all that together? What if there are dysfunctions and strained relationships, and times together are stressful? Someone who is trying to remain sober might be afraid to get together with loved ones because they will feel judged, or looked down on, or just plain guilty for their past. Many people don’t want to spend time with family during the holidays because they become an added stress or a trigger to use.
If this is the case with your family, don’t feel pressured to spend a lot of time with family this year. If you don’t want to be alone, surround yourself with friends, support group members, church acquaintances, and other loved ones who will encourage you and will help you remain sober, not drive you to use or get drunk. If you have to spend time with family or loved ones that cause anxiety and stress, limit your time with these people and prepare yourself beforehand to deal with triggers and find a way out if it becomes too much for you. Don’t let your feeling of obligation to spend time with your family be the cause of your relapse.
Depression is Real
Everyone thinks the holidays should be a happy time when families and friends gather, and everyone is joyful and goodwill abounds. What happens if you don’t feel particularly joyful? What if you actually feel quite depressed? It is natural to feel sad and regretful, even when the rest of the world seems happy. It is OK to not want to spend time surrounded by others and prefer to stay in the comfort of your own, quiet home. If going out during the holidays seems like a lot of work and it might lead you to relapse, don’t be afraid to take time out to regroup and gather your thoughts. It’s alright to plan quiet time for yourself if life gets to be too overwhelming, but don’t hide away from everyone else for long. This can quickly lead to the desire to drink or get high, and you might find yourself relapsing.
During recovery, you need to keep a close eye on your emotions and be sure to get help when necessary. Depression is a very real condition, and it often goes hand in hand with addiction. It can be treated, however, and the sooner a person gets help for their depression, the better their recovery will be.
Alcohol is Expected
Alcohol is common at holiday parties and there are some people who wouldn’t even want to attend a party without alcohol. This poses a challenge for those who are striving for sobriety and are abstaining because of past addiction. This can make the holidays even more difficult for many people.
There are a few things you can do if you are struggling with the culture of drinking that permeates the parties in your circles. First of all, you can prepare yourself for the challenge ahead of time and then be strong and not drink. This is more difficult than it sounds, however, and you will need to be solid in your desire to abstain for it to work. You can also have an accountability partner available during the time you will be at the holiday party. Stay in contact with that person and be open with them about any struggles you face being at a party with alcohol. With help, you can avoid the alcohol.
Another option is to find alcohol-free parties or encourage friends to consider going alcohol-free. Alcohol should not be needed for people to have fun, and anyone motivated to throw a sober party can find good ideas online that will allow their friends to have a good time while remaining sober. If you have friends who are willing to do this for you, consider yourself blessed.
You Can Get through the Holidays with Help
This might be a difficult time of year for you because of strained family relationships, the pressure to be joyful, or triggers created by negative influences. The holidays don’t have to be the cause of your relapse, though. Find a way through these challenges by applying what you learned in recovery, taking things one day at a time, and enlisting the help of loved ones who want you to succeed.
The holidays are meant to be a happy time of year when we can take a look at our lives and be thankful for what we have. If you are struggling this year to be thankful, happy, or sober, contact your treatment staff and ask them for help and advice. There are people around you who are willing to provide help and encouragement, you just need to be open to it and ask for help when necessary.