Hanukkah Healing and Recovery: 8 Nights of Sobriety

Hanukkah is a time for reflection, joy, and celebration. During the Festival of Lights, we light olive oil lights or candles and celebrate with delectable foods, special games, songs, and prayer. Yet, for those with addiction, it may be difficult to maintain sobriety during the holidays. Here are some ideas to help you stay sober during this time and enjoy the holiday to the fullest.

Why Are the Holidays More Stressful?

This time of year brings stress for many – no matter what their situation is. And for some, it compounds this by having an addiction.

In fact, it’s common for the holidays to be more triggering to those with an addiction. There are many reasons for this. According to Healthline:

Holiday stress can affect anyone, even children. There are a lot of expectations around the holidays. Many people associate the holidays with social gatherings, rituals, and happy memories. These expectations can lead to stress.

Some are coping with the loss of loved ones or friends throughout the year. And we all know how hard this year in particular has been for many. All of this may lead to feelings of being overwhelmed, sad, and being stressed. The problem is, stress may lead to doing things we might not otherwise. And for those trying to stay sober, it is often more difficult during this time.

Tips on Staying Sober During Hanukkah

There are a few things you can do to help you stay sober during Hanukkah. These things work throughout the year but are even more relevant during the holiday season where stress and temptations can get the best of you.

Non-Alcohol Drinks

If you have an addiction to alcohol, the holiday season may be especially difficult. There is a way to help with that by having a non-alcohol drink in your hand at all times. Not only does this keep your hands occupied, but it also stops others from offering you a drink that may affect your sobriety. This also helps keep you away from the temptation of picking up a drink with alcohol in it. This may even help those who use it in other ways. It keeps your focus on what you are doing and keeps your hands busy.

Have a Way Out

An exit strategy is an excellent way of getting out of a situation not conducive to your sobriety. Plan a time to depart and stick with it – especially if you have family and friends who stress you out. This may be by starting drama or asking you questions that you are uncomfortable with. This allows you to leave insulting no one, too. Tell everyone when you arrive that you have to leave at a certain time or have an appointment in mind. You can even say that you’re tired or have to get up early.

No matter what you come up with, an exit strategy makes excellent sense. If you don’t want to make up a lie, just state the truth – that you’re ready to go – and leave it at that. This works especially well when you are around people who trigger you. For example, friends you used to use with or those who you’d normally go out with for drinks.

Don’t Forget Your Support System

Your support system is crucial during the holidays. Make sure they know that you may need them during this time. If you feel you are struggling, reach out to them via text or a phone call. Not only can they talk to you and give you help by being there for you, but they may also have some tips to help you stay sober. Things can get stressful fast, so reaching out to someone who understands what you are going through may mean the difference in continuing on a sober path or using or drinking again.

The Festival of Lights and Reflective Insights

As Psych Central states:

The Hanukkah story, and especially the menorah lights, are particularly relevant to those in recovery from mental illness or addiction. Hanukkah in essence can be described as the triumph of spiritual light and lasting truth over darkness, emptiness, and falsehood.

The best-known symbol of the Festival of Lights is the menorah. If you count the ninth arm of the candelabra, then it is the shamash.

Introspection and Focus

We look each candle at for at least 30 minutes upon lighting them each of the eight nights. The light is just to look upon and is not used for anything else. We can use this introspection for sobriety in several ways. One such way is living our lives in focus. Being aware of what is important. And rectifying the darkness.

Each night we light the Hanukiah or menorah. We start with the first light until all eight are lit on the eighth night. This is a time we can think about going slow with our healing. It is a way to consider that one day at a time is best for inner light and healing.

In order for the public to see the menorah, it must be lit in a window or doorway. In fact, in Jerusalem, you will find menorahs outside people’s homes. And it is a beautiful sight to see thousands of lights sparkling in the city. There are even worldwide public menorah lightings. This introspect is perfect to reflect on how important it is to have the support of more than just yourself. Being part of a community helps with recovery far better than going it alone.

The menorah is not right for the holiday unless all oil cups or candles are on the same level. This would deem it unsuitable if they are not. This is a wonderful insight into how we are all equal. We should not look down on people and staying humble is the best way to heal.

As mentioned, the candles must be in a perfect, uniform manner – or, a straight line. In your sobriety, this can signify being truthful and straight with others. Let them into your world and don’t be ashamed of your struggle.

Those who aren’t of the Jewish faith may not realize that an electric menorah, while pretty, is not suitable for the holiday’s conditions. It is essential to use candles or oil with actual flames. The takeaway from this is to be real and genuine with not only others but your own life.

During the lighting of the menorah, we say blessings and prayers. We express to God the gratefulness we have to have reached this point. This expresses the importance of gratitude and remembers who you are and where you came from.

Those songs and hymns we love are sung after the menorah is lit. This is a joy that is simple, but so important. And this shows finding the little joys in life. Those that we might overlook normally. Learn to sing, dance, play, and fill yourself with elation and joy.

It’s Okay To Find Help and Heal

As stated on Blue Dove Foundation:

For a long time, the Jewish community avoided talking about issues related to mental health. Even today, a stigma remains that prevents individuals from speaking out and seeking—or offering—help. The fact is, Jewish individuals are as likely as anyone else to be affected by mental illness and/or addiction because it doesn’t discriminate based on age, gender, education, or socioeconomic status.

In the United States, one in five people used an illicit drug. And the rate of alcohol binge drinking and heavy alcohol use is at around 6 percent. This is a serious issue that doesn’t have to be a secret. There is help for you.

At Transformations Treatment Center, we commit to providing a culturally and spiritually sensitive space during treatment for Jewish individuals confronting substance use and/or mental health disorders. We understand that it’s difficult to get the help you need but we are here for you. Our Jewish-integrated program provides a wealth of treatment care.

Let this Hanukkah season be one filled with joy, laughter, and celebration. Don’t allow alcohol or drug use to cloud your holidays or to affect your sobriety.



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