Holidays are a tough time of year in general and for those in Recovery can be exceptionally trying.
For starters there is the additional exposure to alcohol both with family events and dinners and of course socially. Combine this with the publicly excepted surge in heavy partying and sale of/exposure to illicit substances and you have a recipe for disaster.
While the above serve as vehicles for relapse, the triggers that push one to use are found in abundance during the holiday season. Family events pit recovering addicts against discomfort and feelings of social rejection and judgment. Seeing others with family and friends can often trigger feelings of loneliness and isolation. Watching others engage in partying and other festivities as one had done in the past can serve as a trigger, and the feeling that one can no longer engage in these experiences can bring up feelings of hopelessness and frustration.
So how can one navigate the holiday season without falling prey to the spirits or losing spirit (catch the pun?)
1. Plan ahead:
There is no reason the holiday season cannot be enjoyed in recovery, it just takes some foresight. There are thousands of incredible sober events nationwide that are accessible, fun, and safe so search for them in advance and make sure your schedule is full. Planning your own events can be awesome as well and can be done in a fairly cost effective manner, and google is the master of holiday planning links. Replace champagne with sparkling cider, and a bar for your friends house and you are well on your way.
2. Avoid the craze:
Avoiding the obvious hotspots is obviously an optimal choice. There is no reason to exposure yourself more then you have to. That being said, if you can’t pull off number 1 then find some of the exciting events that leave you the least vulnerable. Pick the concert over the rave, the barbecue over the bar hop and you are on the right track. This is known as harm reduction. If there are no “lesser of two evils” then you will need some help, which is a good idea either way.
While some things are better off when done alone, the holidays aren’t one of those. Find a friend (or friends), family member, sponsor, Significant other, someone in long term recovery or the like to join you on your holiday excursions or even suggest some of their own. Consider them, even empower them, to be your “Jimmney Cricket” and keep you on track. This can be highly effective at family events as well taking some of the focus off of you and also giving you an exit strategy and defensive line.
4. Find your meaning:
While the holidays may trigger memories of uncomfortable family situations and parties, finding meaning in the holidays is a wonderful way to align yourself with a solid path through. Researching the meaning behind the holidays and using the time to connect with yourself and your higher power, as well as taking an accounting of your past year and developing goals and aspirations for the new year can be incredibly therapeutic and put things in a positive perspective throughout the season.
For more information on supportive Recovery services as well as events and education on addiction contact The Detox Center of Los Angeles; 888-767- 5692