Maintaining our sobriety is always a challenge, but it can be uniquely so during the holidays because we tend to associate holiday celebrations with using our drug of choice, and we create holiday rituals around it. Our drug use becomes an important pastime for us and is linked to how we spend time with loved ones. Once we do achieve sobriety, the holidays can feel incomplete, hollow and boring without our drug of choice. We can feel as though we’re missing something. We remember our drug use with nostalgia, we develop a blind spot when it comes to our addictions, and we have selective memory around them. We tend to forget all of the suffering, the hangovers, the disappointment, and regret. We remember only the thrill of being high, the parties, the comradery, and the fun. Staying sober during the holidays means creating new associations for ourselves, as well as finding new ways to celebrate.
Where we once associated the holidays with our drug of choice, now we can create associations around new and enjoyable activities and rituals that commemorate the holiday. We learn that there are countless ways to have fun and celebrate. We see that we can create holiday rituals around spiritual practice and self-care, such as enjoying solitude, decorating our homes, cooking and baking with loved ones, attending a house of worship, practicing prayer and meditation – beneficial things that have nothing to do with our drug of choice and everything to do with feeling truly happy and at peace within ourselves. The holidays begin to take on new and deeper meanings for us. They start to be associated not with debauchery but with genuine peace and contentment. We feel healthier and more alive. We don’t wake up the next morning filled with remorse and regret. We can enjoy feeling clear-headed and present and begin our day feeling hopeful rather than ashamed of ourselves, unable to make sense of or even remember all of the events that took place the night before.
Prioritizing sobriety around the holidays can mean changing who we spend the majority of our time with. The holidays are a great reason to connect with people we might not have seen in a long time. We start to see sober loved ones more, people from whom we may have grown apart because our addictions caused them to distance themselves from us. We develop connections with people who are similarly committed to their sobriety, and this helps us to stay on track with the goals and intentions we’ve set for ourselves, especially around the holidays when we might feel more occasion for temptation arise.
Riverside Recovery is committed to helping you get back the life you love. Our treatment programs include multiple forms of therapy, family workshops, and mindfulness-based relapse prevention education. Call (800) 871-5440 for more information.