Whether you’re new to recovery or have been clean and sober for many years, the holiday season can present a challenge to your previous addictions. Even those who feel they have the issue conquered can still experience flare-ups due to the intensity of the Christmas season.
Here are some tips for maintaining your sobriety during the holidays:
- Prepare ahead of time
Consider in advance what you will say when temptations come your way. Enticements will come along, so you have to be prepared to take them on! Have a statement rehearsed and ready to say at the first offer. Practice it multiple times before leaving home throughout the entire holiday season. That way, when someone asks if you want a drink, you are ready with your answer: “No thanks, I have quit drinking.”
- Have a strategy in mind
If you’re going out of town, stay at a safe person’s house and have them chaperone you if that’s what you need. If you’re going to a party or another social activity, have an exit strategy planned ahead of time in case you need to use it.
- Reduce your triggers
Limit exposure to the people, places, and things that remind you of using or drinking. Maybe you’re planning to go back to your hometown or old neighborhood over the holidays. Guess what? Many of your former “using” friends, the places you used to hang out while using, and other negative reminders are still there. Being around those triggers is a recipe for relapse. Consider going to a new-to-you place this holiday if at all possible!
- Be truthful with yourself
Try not to tell yourself that one time is ok, or that the holiday is a good reason to drink or use. There are plenty of healthy ways to enjoy the Christmas season that are consistent with your recovery goals. Be intentional and firm about your plan to stay sober.
Remember, you’ve worked so hard to get where you are today! Don’t let the holiday season trip you up. Now would be a great time to remind yourself of your initial reason to stop drinking or using. Go into the new year with this huge, worthy goal already accomplished!