Every year at this time it becomes the season for an overwhelming amount of treatment center blogs titled things like “How to stay sober during Christmas” or “Reasons to stay sober this holiday season”. Frustratingly apparent in this abyss of Christmas recovery blogs is yes, the holidays can be hard for someone newly sober but also frustratingly lost in the abyss is, no the holiday season doesn’t have to be difficult for someone newly clean and sober.
The truth is that the holidays are no more difficult to stay sober than at any other time of year (which is to say, staying sober doesn’t have to be a struggle any day of that year.) Sure, they CAN be but they don’t have to be. Christmas and New Years are just as difficult to stay sober for someone new to recovery as are the following arbitrary dates that I just picked at random: March 7th, June 1st and September 23rd. ANY DAY can be difficult staying sober but just like Christmas and News Years, they don’t HAVE to be.
A little secret about sobriety that many people don’t disclose because maybe they aren’t aware or haven’t experienced it, but sobriety and recovery are not necessarily hard. If you ask an alcoholic to just stop drinking or an addict to just stop using, it will not only be hard but it will ultimately be impossible. Eventually they will always use again. And for an addict and alcoholic, the sobriety (or abstinence) between periods of active using and/or drinking will feel excruciating, like trying to hold their breath under water. They will be angry, irritable, emotional, moody, restless, anxious, bored and depressed. So if you combine those feelings with the Christmas holiday season, a time that is supposed to be cheerful and full of family and boisterous parties of socializing with good food and better drinks, there is no doubt it will be difficult for the person to stay sober. Does that sound easy? Of course not. However, the main issue is that the addict or alcoholic in this scenario is not actually in recovery, they are simply abstinent from substances. Those feelings of holding their breath while sober, waiting for the other shoe to drop, will happen on any day of the year, not just the holidays.
So what a person in recovery should do to not feel that way during the holiday season is the same thing that the addict or alcoholic needs to do not to feel that way any other day of the year. They need to be engaged in recovery, in a lifestyle that supports health and balance physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. That may mean engaging in treatment if they are in treatment, engaging with a mental health or addiction professional, engaging in 12 Step meetings and taking the actions of the 12 Steps, engaging in healthy behaviors like a healthy diet, exercise and meditation. Whatever level of recovery someone is at, they need to jump in with two feet and engage in the recovery process. What happens when that occurs? What happens is that sobriety is not hard, uncomfortable, depressing or lonely. What happens is that the addict or alcoholic in recovery does not dwell on what is wrong in their life or what they cannot do or dwell on the past when they were using and drinking, but rather they have a change in perception and being to see the holiday season as it should be: About the wonderful time with friends and family, feeling connection and love. What happens is that the addict and alcoholic in recovery isn’t trying to not drink or not use, but instead because they are fully committed and engaged in recovery, not drinking or not using occurs naturally. It just happens. They don’t have to try to not drink or not use, they just naturally don’t drink or use. This is not a Christmas miracle but rather the miracle that happens in recovery every day when the person is engaged in a lifestyle of recovery.
So how do you stay sober during Christmas and the holiday season? Engage in a program of recovery. Listen to your treatment center/therapist/sponsor/sober supports and anyone else that knows what it’s like to enjoy a sober holiday. Listen to their experience. Listen and take direction. Do what they do. Move your feet in recovery and a sober Christmas will probably be the best Christmas you will ever experience.
If you or someone you know is in need of help because of drug and/or alcohol abuse or addiction, please give us a call. Maryland Addiction Recovery Center offers the most comprehensive dual diagnosis substance abuse treatment in the Baltimore, Maryland, Washington, DC and Virginia area. If we aren’t the best fit for you or your loved one, we will take the necessary time to work with you to find a treatment center or provider that better fits your needs. Please give us a call at (410) 773-0500 or email our team at Contact us today. For more information on all of our drug addiction and alcohol addiction services and recovery resources, please visit our web site at www.marylandaddictionrecovery.com.