Recovery is a long road with a variety of hurdles. One of the largest you’ll face, though, is having a sober holiday season. Relapse rates spike during this time of the year for a variety of reasons, but the only thing you need to be concerned with is not becoming part of this statistic. Stick by the following tips, and you’ll likely emerge with your sobriety intact.
1. Make Plans for Parties
You may find it difficult to avoid all holiday parties. If this is the case, you need to have an appropriate plan in place to protect your sobriety. Consider the following steps:
- Drive yourself: This will allow you to leave whenever you think it’s prudent.
- Have an escape plan: Come up with something to do (e.g. see a movie, call your sponsor) in case a party becomes too much.
- Arrive late, leave early: This allows you to make an appearance but still get out before temptation starts to become an issue.
- Take your own drinks: Bringing your own drinks ensures you have something besides alcohol to enjoy.
These proactive steps will help you enjoy a nice time with friends while also helping stay sober during the holidays.
2. Increased Meeting Attendance
Relapse rates skyrocket during the holiday season. Heroin has a 40-60 percent relapse rate and the rate for alcohol is up to 90 percent. Since these numbers go up around holidays, there are typically Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings held in increased frequency.
If you’re traveling, you can check here for NA meetings and here for AA groups. Be wary of individuals who use these gatherings to find others to drink or do drugs with after. While this isn’t a common occurrence, it’s important that you don’t let their seemingly friendly nature drag you down.
3. Offer to be the Designated Driver
One of the best ways to have fun in recovery is to offer your services as a designated driver (DD). While those who are new to sobriety shouldn’t put themselves in high-risk situations, offering your friends a safe way home is a stellar idea if you’re established in your recovery.
As a designated driver, you’ll get to spend time with friends and family in social situations. You’ll also grant yourself a responsibility that increases your likelihood of having a sober holiday. Remember that you can’t drink, do drugs or take prescription medications that could alter your mental state as a DD.
4. Find Gratitude in Your Sober Holiday
Showing gratitude is a central pillar to many recovery programs, and there are good reasons behind this. Studies have shown that expressing gratitude positively reinforces recovery. Keeping a gratitude journal is ideal, and you should fill it with everything you’re grateful for that’s related to your sobriety.
Are you happy your aunt invited you back to Thanksgiving dinner once you got sober? What about waking up without a hangover on Christmas morning? Make sure you don’t just write these things down, though; take a moment in the morning and whenever you’re stressed to review your gratitude in sobriety.
5. Stave Off Post-Holiday Relapse
Many people don’t realize it, but those in recovery are also at increased risk immediately following the holidays. Over 60 percent of people say they feel pressured into overspending during this time, and that can equate to heightened stress once you return back to your daily life.
This combines with people letting their guard down. After all, you’ve just successfully navigated a sober holiday. Time to relax and lower your defenses, right? Wrong. Sobriety is an ongoing task, and there’s no need to slip up simply because you weren’t vigilant when blindsided by delayed stressors.
The holidays might be over, but you should still be ready to fight for your sobriety if necessary.
Make it a Sober Holiday to Remember
Regardless of which cultural celebrations you observe, you’re likely to experience triggers that will test your sobriety. Don’t use this as an excuse for a “small relapse” – which is often anything but small. Keep your mind focused on the goal, and you’ll find that a sober holiday season is far more special than the others.
If you’re ready to get started on the road to recovery – regardless of the season – contact us today at Transformations Treatment Center.