A quick helpful guide for being new to recovery on the holidays
Christmas and the rest of the holiday season can be a stressful time for anyone. Families come together to celebrate, alcohol is flowing freely, tempers and flare and old wounds can be opened. The holidays can be a stressful time, especially for someone in early recovery.
For someone just leaving an inpatient rehab and entering “back into society” or someone currently enrolled in and receiving treatment in an intensive outpatient (IOP) addiction treatment center, dealing with Christmas and other holiday stress can be difficult. Although an addict or alcoholic can no more be “triggered” by Christmas stress as they can by the stress of waking up and facing the day, there is no doubt that stressors become more abundant and more intense during the holiday season.
Therefore, with Christmas and New Year’s fast approaching and the stress of the holiday season already upon us, here are some quick helpful tips for someone new in recovery to deal with the holiday season:
- Surround yourself with other people in recovery. It is vital to get support from people in recovery that have dealt with these issues before and have experience that can help guide you through stressful holiday situations.
- Have a plan. Make sure you have a list of meetings in your area. During the holidays Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous and other 12 Step fellowships will often hold meetings around the clock. Find out from your recovery support system what recovery events are taking place. Plan your schedule, making sure to be there for your family during holiday events but also making sure to make time for meetings and fellowship. Have numbers (sponsor, supports, your therapist in treatment, etc.) that you can call.
- If you’re in outpatient treatment, make sure to speak with your primary therapist. Ask them their advice and recommendations in creating a plan for yourself. Speak in group treatment settings if you have fears or concerns. Learn from others in your group.
- Be transparent. Transparency of feelings, emotions, fears and concerns is key for anyone in order to achieve a sustainable recovery. During the stressful holiday season, for someone new in recovery, this transparency is imperative. Speak to your family. Speak to your therapist in treatment. Speak to your sponsor and friends in recovery. Be honest about how you are feeling and if you’re scared or concerned that the holidays will be difficult. Allow them to help you form a plan, direct your actions towards what you should be doing. Realize that you probably don’t know what is best for you right now and allow those with experience getting through these situations to guide you.
- Don’t run. Do not avoid your family or holiday festivities. You probably have been absent from many a holiday event for years or if you were there, you were probably not present. Maybe your actions while drunk or high ruined past dinners or parties? Speak with your therapist, sponsor and friends to do what needs to be done for you in order to show up for your family and be an active participant in the holiday season. Do not expect your family to not drink because of you. However, if the subject does come up and they say that they are willing to not have alcohol or other substances because you are newly clean and sober, you can feel okay in telling them you would prefer that, if that is how you feel. If they offer a sober Christmas, you can take them up on that offer. However, do not have expectations that your family or friends should change their behaviors to suit your new sobriety.
The holiday season should be one of family, feasting, festivities and fun. You deserve to be part of that good time and your family and friends deserve the new clean and sober you. Take the necessary actions you need to in order to be a part of the festivities and participate with your family during Christmas and the holiday season. Being clean and sober does not mean being lonely or sad or somber during the holidays. It means being able to have fun and enjoy the holidays that you hadn’t been able to enjoy for many years past.
We hope you and yours have a Happy Hanukkah, a Merry Christmas and a wonderful holiday season.
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