Whether you’ve newly joined the recovery path or have abstained for years, sober holidays challenge even the strongest will. Some experts estimate that relapse rates may increase by as much as 150%.
From troubled interpersonal relationships to financial stress to holiday blues, this time of year is the perfect storm for relapse. But you can stick to your commitments and make it through with a plan.
1. Write Down Your Strategy
Review your triggers and how you’ll respond to those triggers. Create some pre-planned responses for common scenarios such as someone who doesn’t know you’re in recovery, offering you a drink. How will you politely excuse yourself from a situation that enhances cravings?
Play out scenes in your mind. And then work through how you’ll manage them using the skills you learned in treatment.
Preparing in this way gives you the tools to use. It will also boost your confidence. Sober holidays are nothing when you’ve got the courage to make it through.
2. Earn an “A” for Attitude
For many, the holidays are stressful and overwhelming. As a result, you might start slipping into depression or experience panic. It feels like you’re the only one feeling these things, and you may fall into a victim mentality. For example, “Oh, poor me.”
But know that everyone has these kinds of sad, scary, and angry feelings. So it’s normal. Realizing this can help you start re-shaping the narrative and give you the strength to put more sober holidays under your belt.
3. Help Others
The holidays are a great time to give your time. And doing so can take your mind off out-of-control thoughts and emotions while focusing on the needs of others.
Helping serves double-duty. That’s because if you’re helping the homeless or less fortunate, it also lets you realize without judgment just how lucky you were to get sober when you did.
Additionally, you can find other ways to help. For example, if you attend a family dinner, offer to help those preparing the meal and cleaning dishes. This act not only shows you’re responsible and considerate. It also gives you something else to do if uncles and cousins are drinking around you.
4. Listen to Your Thoughts
Around the holidays, it’s easy to rationalize. Many people who have been through sober holidays successfully for a few years, start thinking things like
- “This is a special occasion.”
- “I can have just a little.”
- “This is under control now.”
- “One drink won’t hurt.”
- “There’s no way I’d slip back into old ways with how much I’ve grown.”
But it’s a trap. Deep down, you know that you don’t want to go back down that path. And it always starts with just one.
Tracking these thoughts requires mindfulness. That’s because sometimes thoughts slip through without awareness, but still impact your mood. Don’t beat yourself up if you think these kinds of thoughts. Commit to keeping rationalizing thoughts from overtaking your better judgment.
5. Reaffirm Your Commitment to Aftercare
If you’ve been skipping meetings lately, this is a good time to re-establish the habit of going at least weekly. If you don’t have a support group, then it’s time to find one. Most communities have 12-step or other support groups led by people who’ve been in recovery for many years and know what you’re going through.
If you’re able, re-establish your connection with the aftercare program at the addiction treatment center. And above all, take care of yourself around the holidays. Take care of the physical, mental, and spiritual.
How a Treatment Center Can Help
If you’re having an especially hard time this year or have already relapsed, many people admit themselves into a recovery center in Florida or join an intensive outpatient program over the holidays to get the extra support they need during this time. At Atlantic Recovery Center, we offer clients the support they need through evidence-based treatments like:
- Dual diagnosis treatment
- Group and individual counseling
- Recreational therapy
- Music and art therapy
If you’re struggling with sober holidays this year, you owe it to yourself to get the help you need. Call us at 877.432.0867 to receive that support.