Holidays can be a difficult time for people in recovery. Whether it’s a birthday, Thanksgiving, the Fourth of July or even St. Patty’s Day –most addicts and alcoholics associate holiday celebrations with drinking and drugging. The first few years of sobriety can be especially challenging during these times because people who once associated these celebratory occasions with booze and binges find that they haven't the first clue how to go about enjoying a sober holiday. This is particularly true during the last two months of the year when Thanksgiving, Christmas and News Years parties abound.
The trick to having fun on holidays is to practice the most basic premise of recovery –that we stay clean one day at a time. When you think of it this way, it becomes a rather simple task. Remembering that days like Christmas and Halloween are nothing more than “another day” will help you stay in the moment and do what’s right in front of you. All you have to do is stay sober for the entire day...one full 24-hour period...that’s it!
Yes, this concept may seem simplistic, but that is another component of a successful recovery program –keeping it simple. But because we all know 12-step programs provide a simple plan for complicated people, we've created a quick and easy list that will help you protect the recovery time you have already earned, stay sober one more day and, most importantly, have some fun during any –and every –holiday.
Enjoying a Sober Holiday, Top Five Tips:
1.Remember that just because someone invites you to their event doesn't mean you have to go. Holidays have a tendency to bring old friends (and habits) out of the woodwork. Some of your buddies from “back in the day” may call you and invite you to their barbeque, pool party or Halloween shindig. It may seem tempting, but it's trouble. Any other day of the year, you would remember that returning to the people, places and things we once associated with our addiction/alcoholism is not a good idea. The same applies on special occasions.
2.Hang out with other recovering people. Most 12-step groups have something going on during holidays, whether it’s a dance, bingo night or even a drag show. If there’s not something at your home group, chances are, someone is hosting a fun event at their house. There is always something to do on the holidays. Make sure you include yourself. Being around other people, even if you don’t feel like it, will help you learn how to celebrate and enjoy a sober holiday.
3.Go to a meeting. If you are traveling for a holiday, be sure to do your homework before the trip. Before you leave, make certain you know where the meetings are. Arrange for reliable transportation to get you there and back…whether it’s a cab, a friend’s car or the bus. Attending meetings in other places can be exciting and hearing a spiritual message from an unexpected source can catapult any holiday experience to an entirely new level of adventure.
4.Stay close to your sponsor and support group. Sponsors work 365 days out of the year. Meetings happen 365 days a year...and, whether you like it or not, you are an addict 365 days of the year. That means, no matter what day it is, you should be working a program of recovery in your life. If you don’t have anyone to spend a holiday with, call your sponsor and tell him or her you have no plans for Christmas/Thanksgiving/New Years. Either you will be invited to hang with your sponsor, or he or she can recommend an event being hosted by someone else in your support circle. No matter what, don’t allow yourself to attend your own pity party. Go to a meeting or work on some steps, Be productive and stave off any sense of loneliness.
5.Talk about where you're at. Holidays bring out different feelings in different people. Some people don’t think of special occasions as anything other than regular ole days of the week and don’t pay any attention to them whatsoever. They get through them with no problem, sobriety in check. Others get depressed and want to isolate. Many recovering people have a great time celebrating holidays by getting into the spirit of the occasion and going to sober parties or events. No matter which category you fall into, be sure and share where you’re at with others. Being honest about your feelings surrounding a holiday will help you stay clean and have some fun in the meantime.
Remember, no matter what the occasion is, it's just another day. Not only can you make it through without having a drug or a drink, you can also learn to celebrate and enjoy yourself. Contact us, we can help you with enjoying a sober holiday.