The Christmas and New Year’s holiday season is a happy time to look forward to. A welcome break from the grind of everyday life and a time reflect and to celebrate with colleagues, friends and family. However for those who suffer with addiction and their families, the holiday season can produce a lot of temptation, stress, emotional upheaval and depression. Here are some tips and strategies for staying sober and getting through the holidays without relapsing into addictive behaviours.
Start Each Day With A Commitment: Those struggling with addiction, especially alcoholism should wake up with a firm commitment to stay sober. Temptations will arise, but do not allow the holiday season to undo all the hard work and emotional effort that got you clean in the first place. Keep to the commitment you’ve made. Recite it as your daily morning mantra.
Evaluate Risk and Be Prepared: Identify what events you may be attending, be it staff Christmas parties, dinner parties or family gatherings. Assess whether the event you will be attending is a low, medium or high risk event. Plan accordingly. Take along a friend who doesn’t drink or use drugs to help gently coax you into staying sober. Find an area far enough away from the bar, and strike up a conversation and stay engaged in it. Offer to help your host so that you stay busy with little tasks to distract you. If you’re not ready to share the fact that you’re in recovery use a discreet strategy for turning down alcoholic drinks or other substances. Create a script that you can use to decline off-limits offers. Perhaps arrive early to the event, stay true to the plan and leave early.
Bring or Throw Your Own Party: Take along a food or safe drink that you enjoy. For instance, if champagne is a big temptation for you at a New Year’s soiree, bring a flavoured, sparkling water to sip as the clock counts down. Try to keep your drink full at all times and others will be less likely to ask if you need a refill. Another way avoid temptations is to throw your own drug and alcohol free social gatherings.
Know Your Triggers: During your addiction treatment and recovery, you most likely will have identified the most potent triggers that make you want to abuse drugs or alcohol. Around the holidays, these are often unavoidable. They may manifest as certain friends who still use or family members who give you stress or anxiety. Sometimes places where you have often frequented during your addiction can trigger a relapse. If you can’t completely avoid these triggers, you can still minimise their impact. Spend most of your time with people who are supportive and positive rather than those who tempt or stress you out. Additionally, make sure you are not hungry, angry, lonely, or tired, these things can weaken your resolve.
Lean on Your Support System: Try not to isolate yourself during the holidays; doing everything alone makes life harder. Loneliness can often make using alcohol or drugs more tempting. Spend the holidays with good, supportive and encouraging people, be they friends or family or those you have met in recovery. If need be, take time to attend a few extra support group meetings during the holidays to stay on track. Understand that your friends who abuse substances may have to celebrate without you this year.
Most of all eat well, drink only for sobriety and focus on finding a healthy state of ‘merry’. It may not be easy, temptations will come. But if you stay strong, employ some or all of the above strategies, the temptation season will pass, a New Year will dawn and you will be on track, clean and sober, ready to embrace it fully!
From all of us here at Ibiza Calm, we would like to wish you all a very Happy Healthy Christmas and New Year. If temptation or depression is overwhelming you, please do not hesitate to call us for any help or advice. Our expert team of professionals is available at all times for any number of addictions you or a loved one may be suffering with.
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