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Survival Tips for Making it Through the Holidays Sober

Survival Tips for Making it Through the Holidays Sober

Most holidays stir up intense memories for people struggling with addiction and recovery. Perhaps there are some good memories in there, but most often it is the challenging associations and relationships that feel most difficult around the holiday season. For many families, it can be the most stressful (not wonderful) time of the year. If this is you, there are ways to survive sober (and sane).

Managing Expectations

If you or a loved one struggle with addiction, it is important to explore boundaries and expectations. Most often, family members can have unrealistic expectations surrounding the holiday season. They are searching for a perfect White Christmas and time to sit around the table. This may not happen. These unrealistic expectations can lead to disappointment, frustration, and stress for the person in recovery. Many family members assume once a person is in recovery, they will stay happy and sober. The reality is far more challenging than most realize, as trying to cope without substances can be stressful, without the holidays rearing their ugly head. A little sympathy and understanding goes a long way in this regard.

Supporting a Loved One in Recovery

Family members’ fears and concerns about relapse during holidays is typical. Family members need to be balanced more this time of year when it comes to relapse prevention. Relapse prevention starts before the holidays. Families can sit down and discuss what to do to make them feel comfortable. It may help to:

  • Avoid cooking food with alcohol in it for family dinner
  • Serve non-alcoholic beverages like water and soda
  • Ban alcohol brought over by others
  • Inform family before event so they don’t feel bad and can plan ahead

Families need to realize not everyone will be happy around the person in recovery. It may be bad memories or experiences or just a general feeling of dis-ease about them amidst worries about their behavior. This frustration can bubble to the surface at holiday time. If a loved one does struggle and relapses, make sure the family is there to offer support. Act quickly to help them and make sure they feel loved.

Letting Go

In the end, there is little anyone but the person with addiction can do around addiction recovery. The most important thing is self-care. It is important to eat, sleep, and exercise as much as possible to stay healthy. Family can help surround the loved one with love and emotional support if they feel triggered by attending holiday events. To make it sober through holidays, it helps to:

  • Have a lifeline ready like a sober companion or friend
  • Attend more groups
  • Get online and connect with friends
  • Have an ‘out’ if things are too crazy at home (like texting a friend a secret word to call you to get away)
  • Bring other things to do like books and other activities that help center you if you struggle around difficult family members

Don’t stress and worry about family events. If other people are still stuck in addiction and you are sober, it may be best to take a break and visit friends or do something else for holidays, depending how you feel in recovery. Don’t let triggers get the best of you. Learn how to cope in a healthy way and you will find holidays to be a less stressful, more enjoyable time of year.

You may want to celebrate holidays but it can be difficult. It may bring up emotional challenges as well as physical ones like triggers. If you are struggling with sobriety, call us. If you are ready to get sober, call us. Our professional staff will help you navigate recovery and support your needs. Call us 24/7 at our toll-free number: 866-294-9401