Thanksgiving kicks off the start of the holiday season – a time for celebration and cheer. It’s also the time of year that is most often accompanied by an increase in alcohol consumption, making it a potential problem for those abstaining from alcohol or other substances.
For those recovering from addiction or alcohol use disorder, it can be challenging to abstain from alcohol or other substances when others around them are engaging in these activities.
If you are planning to attend holiday gatherings this year, it would be wise to plan ahead. Having a plan in place can set you up for sobriety success if you are going to attend parties and celebrations.
Staying Sober During The Holidays
Although people may choose to go out and socialize for many different reasons during the holiday season, they all share something in common: the desire to have and share good food together. For many people, this is one of the most stressful times of the year. Often, this stress leads to drinking as people tend to drink more when they feel stressed.
However, there are several things you or your loved one can do to stay sober this season should the urge arise.
If you are planning to celebrate Christmas this year, here are some things you should keep in mind:
1. Have your recovery support system on call
Make sure you have your recovery support system available at all times. They can provide encouragement and direction if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or tempted. If you can, bring a sober friend to a holiday dinner or gatherings with you. This will help you know that there will be at least someone there who is not drinking. It does not need to be a person in recovery, but someone who does not drink, or just someone who wants to spend the holiday sober.
2. Let Family and Friends Know You’re In Recovery
If you do decide to attend a holiday event, let your family and friends know ahead of time that you’re in recovery and may need/would like support. You don’t need to inform everyone attending if your recovery process is a personal journey, but having a few close family members and/or friends who can hold you accountable for your recovery goals and limit any external pressure during the gathering.
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3. Plan to Stay Sober Ahead of Time
Planning ahead is essential for any kind of event. The holidays are no exception. While it may seem tempting to skip planning, you want to avoid making bad choices. To stay sober, it’s important to make sure you have a plan ahead of time. How will you spend Christmas Day? Who is attending? Do not delay deciding what you will be doing until the last minute.
4. Be mindful of your environment
Make sure you are aware of the people and places around you. Avoid situations where you know you’ll be tempted to drink.
5. Prepare an exit plan
Make sure you have an exit plan for when you get there. If you plan for an early departure from any situation where others might want you to stick around, you won’t feel pressured when they ask you to stay later than you’re comfortable doing. If you can, drive yourself to the event so you don’t have to rely on others to take you back home. You can decide for yourself when it’s time to leave. Don’t let anyone force you to stay longer than necessary. To leave early, plan ahead so that you know exactly when you’re going to leave.
Additional Support During The Holidays
The holiday season can be a challenging time for everyone, but especially difficult for those in recovery. Stressful events such as family gatherings, parties, and shopping can trigger urges to drink. When these triggers occur, it can be difficult to resist consuming alcohol. If you think you might relapse this holiday season, it might be a good idea to seek a treatment program.
Riverside Recovery of Tampa provides a full continuum of care for individuals suffering from alcohol use disorder and other addictions. If you or your loved one is having difficulty staying sober on their own, our team is here to help. We will guide you through your path to recovery so you can get back to the life you love. Our admissions team works during the holidays to provide support for those in need.