holiday sober

Keeping Yourself Sober During Holidays

The holidays, far from being the most wonderful time of the year, are often a time when alcohol addiction treatment is jeopardized. While the holidays can be fun, they can also be stressful due to deadlines, expectations, and changes in routines. These factors can also trigger depression and feelings of isolation rather than the picture-perfect holidays we imagined.

At DeCoach Rehabilitation Centre, our mission is to provide quality, affordable, and safe treatment for those battling addiction. Professional, accredited services include Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) and one-on-one counseling. Treatment takes place in a quiet, private setting where each client is offered the utmost respect and dignity.

This article focuses on what you can do to mitigate potentially-triggering stress and anxiety to keep the signs of alcohol addiction at bay. Relapse is not inevitable, but it is important to remember that alcohol addiction treatment and withdrawal management are available if necessary.

Rewrite the Holiday Story in Your Head

One of the stories substance abusers tells themselves is that they need to drink to have fun and that the holidays will be boring without alcohol. How does this square with the time your family refused to speak to you because you totaled your dad’s car, the headaches from hell, a thirst to end all thirsts, and nights of crying because you felt so alone?

Remaining trapped in the limiting stories we tell ourselves is a hurdle to maintaining recovery, so rewrite your story and think of positive memories to support that story. Go into the holidays telling yourself that instead of needing alcohol to have fun, you’ll be fully engaged in the festivities, enjoy the rituals, savor the tastes, exchange witty banter and remember the conversations, not be snoring in a chair before the gifts have even been opened.

Many beliefs are rooted in what we learned from childhood when others’ beliefs might have been foisted on us. Ask yourself why you believe them and know it may hurt to acknowledge the answers. Forgiveness follows. As you unveil the truth, you can also find what prompted your beliefs and opt to let them go.  

Hatch a “Holiday Escape Plan” & Protect Your Sobriety

Now’s the time to heighten your self-awareness and be proactive, because your sobriety depends on it. 

You can do this by:

1. Knowing Your Triggers

If you are in alcohol addiction treatment, knowing your relapse triggers and how to prepare for, or avoid them is crucial. After all, the alcohol withdrawal symptoms aren’t worth it.  

Suppose you can only handle so much of Uncle Bob’s bickering. In that case, cousin Jack the hedge fund manager’s boasting, your sister prying into your love life, and mom fussing over minute details, prioritize your mental health and pull the ripcord to eject from these situations.  

2. Create an Exit Strategy

Nobody can predict how a situation will play out, so having a Plan B is a wise idea. It could be anything from a babysitter needing to get home to a breakfast meeting, a planned bike ride, or having to let the dogs out.

Instead of resorting to an “Irish goodbye” and heading out unexpectedly, ask a friend to call during an event to give you an excuse to bow out. Have transport on hand, leave early, or skip the event if your sobriety is at risk.

During early recovery, your peace of mind and recovery are vital, so anchor yourself in positive practices to put yourself in good stead for the future. In time, you will likely find that abstaining from alcohol improves mental acuity, mood balance, relationships, sleep patterns, and general health, all of which can help you cope better with holiday stress.

3. Avoid Risky Situations

If you are invited to a get-together where drink plays a major role, an office booze cruise, for instance, simply turn down the invitation. A history of alcohol addiction treatment sees some people steer clear of such events even after years of recovery.

4. Be Mindful of What You’re Drinking—and Thinking

Spending time with family can spark guilt over how past addictive behaviors affected them. A set routine can help you cope more effectively—healthy eating, going to bed at a reasonable time, meditating, exercising, or attending recovery meetings all affect your state of mind, so don’t let the holidays interfere.

5. Arrange Non-alcoholic Beverages in Advance

The quantities of alcohol available at some parties are alarming. If you’re to attend a function where alcohol will be served, having a non-alcoholic beverage on hand might help you feel like part of the celebrations. Moreover, the host and other guests are less likely to ply you with alcohol if you already have a drink.

6. Enlist a Friend’s Help

Having peer support makes all the difference, so find solidarity with others.   

  •  If you’re worried about attending a function, ask a friend to come along to provide extra accountability, compassion, and support.
  •  If you are traveling, contact friends and explain you may need additional support. Ask if they would mind you getting in touch periodically. You may even request that they reach out to you.
  • If you know someone who has struggled, make contact with them. Alcohol addiction help comes in many forms, and they may need reassurance. Try not to let loved ones spend the holidays alone. Support them where possible and if intensive outpatient care is needed, try to convince them to try a facility with a proven track record. Know what to say in advance.

If you have a strategy in mind, you’ll find it easier to cope at gatherings.

Boundaries are essential to recovery, so if you don’t want to drink, don’t explain why. You can say, “No thank you,” or “I’m not drinking today,” and leave it there.

If family or friends ask awkward questions, you can be honest or just make up an excuse. If you don’t want to lie, plan a legitimate response such as:

  • The medication or antibiotics I’m on prevent drinking.
  • I’m the designated driver!
  • Somebody has asked me to babysit later
  • It’s not advisable to drink whilst breastfeeding
  • We’re pregnant or trying to become pregnant
  • Some of us are playing tennis/swimming afterward
  • I recently entered alcohol addiction recovery – I’m happy to talk to you about it sometime in private.
  • Or ask for a soft drink. If they insist on alcohol, you or a friend can surreptitiously empty it into the nearest pot plant.

7. Choose Sober Alternatives and Keep Busy

The holidays are traditionally centered on children, so devise a game plan beforehand with activities like craft and baking projects, or board-game tournaments. Hiking excursions, going out for ice cream, bowling, mini-golf, or cornhole are options if the weather is fine.

Distract yourself from boredom and the possibility of a relapse. Prepare your itinerary if going away and plan to visit local attractions, help prepare meals, make decorations, run errands, or take walks.

Ask local churches or non-profit organizations about volunteering.

This not only keeps you intentionally busy but serving others helps us focus on the positives and feel better about ourselves.   

8. Stay Connected to Your Sober Network

Alcohol addiction help is available through support groups, which are in demand during the holidays, providing a safe retreat. Some offer holiday phone lists or crisis helpline numbers. Otherwise, online recovery groups provide options if you cannot find a group. Books and podcasts on sobriety may be helpful, and if you see a therapist, schedule a post-holiday appointment.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) Available in Fairfield, OH

If you or a loved one have questions about medication-assisted treatment or are ready to take the first step in your recovery journey, reach out to our team at DeCoach Rehabilitation Centre. We are experts in holistic, medication-assisted treatment for alcohol and opiate addiction. Our multidisciplinary team offers individualized treatment and peer coaching to help those struggling to achieve sobriety. 

Call our offices to speak with a member of our team, or reach out to us online today!

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