How to Survive the Holidays Sober
The holidays may have used to be a time to always have a drink or a joint in your hand with your friends and family. It may be hard to admit that those days are over and that you will have to find other ways to have fun. It is important to realize that alcohol and drugs are not what should make the holidays enjoyable but to be thankful for how far you are in your recovery and to not let one night ruin all of your progress.
Before you make any plans for the holiday, give yourself as much sleep as possible so that you can start the day feeling refreshed and energized. Being tired can mean you will give in easily to your cravings and will make your brain lazy. When you are tired, you tend to make snap decisions and will take what you can get to liven yourself up. Being tired should give you the opportunity to get out of bed and do something with your day. You should also avoid sitting at home and moping. If you have nothing to do, you will spend all of your time thinking about how much you want drugs and alcohol. You will think that indulging in abusive substances is the only way to enjoy yourself during the holidays.
The best way to stop thinking about your cravings and your unhappiness is by staying busy. Making plans for the holidays can be time consuming and give you something to do. You can look around your area and see what kind of events or festivals are occurring during the holidays like a carnival, concert, movie night, dinner, etc. You can make your own party where you invite others to dinner and create a potluck so that everyone can try the dishes of others. You can also go to your local party store and buy decorations to fill up your house. Make treats that fit in with the holiday theme where you can find inspiration on Pinterest or Tasty apps. Make a list of what needs to be done and prioritize so that you can fill up enough activities to last throughout the day. Volunteering your time to help others is another way to spend the holidays as addiction can make you only think of your needs and not others. Volunteering will show that you are headed in the right direction with your recovery.
If you go to a holiday party, it is best that you do whatever it takes to plan ahead before going. For example, if you have a certain friend or relative who is known for getting a lot of drinks to the party or only prefers to go to drinking parties, it is best you stay away from those people as you do not want to be tempted to start again. Holidays like Halloween, 4th of July, and Labor Day are known for big drinking celebrations so you should come up with a list of alternative activities you can do that do not involve drinking. For example, on Halloween you can make your own costume party, make a barbeque on the 4th of July, or have a picnic during Labor Day. If you go to a party and the host proposes a toast with an alcoholic drink, bring a drink of your own. If the host is toasting with champagne, use 7Up or ginger ale instead. If they are toasting with red wine, use cranberry juice.
You know what you can and cannot handle so it is best that you do not lie to yourself that you will try to be in control if you know you are not ready yet. If you need to leave the party because you feel too overwhelmed, you do not have to tell anyone that you feel like relapsing or anything about your addiction. You can let the host or a friend know that something came up like an appointment, running an errand, need to buy something, an emergency, etc.
If you ever feel the need to do drugs again during the party, have a list in your pocket ready for you of all of the reasons that you quit bad habits and what were to happen to you if you relapsed. This will help motivate you to continue on your journey of recovery. Bring a sober buddy with you to the party who will understand your need to not drink alcohol and will be a safe and reliable driver to take you home. Also find ways to distract yourself during these parties to avoid thinking of drugs like playing non-drinking games or socializing with new people at the party. Give your sponsor a call if you feel triggered to relapse. Never feel like you are bothering your sponsor as it is their role in your life to help you through these intense moments as they have been through them before.
If you have nowhere to go for the holidays, you should go to a 12 step meeting near you. You will be surrounded by people who have been in your shoes before. You can all contribute ideas as to how to feel comfortable at parties and sober activities that can be fun to do. Do not let any holiday be a holiday from your recovery but a time to appreciate how far you have come and to keep it up.
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