The holidays can be a wonderful and memorable time. But, it is important to remember that the holidays can also be difficult, especially for those of us who are in recovery. However, there are many ways to navigate the holidays in recovery that can ultimately make the season a special time for everyone involved.
Spending the Holidays in Recovery
It can be easy to forget that the holidays are not the most wonderful time of the year for everyone. When we are surrounded by images of happy families and advertisements that represent the type of celebration that no reality could ever live up to, we can forget that some of us have very different associations with the holidays.
Some of us have experienced some trauma associated with the holidays. This may come from adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), or they may come from the experiences that we had while in active addiction during the holidays. These associations don’t merely go away simply because we are now in recovery, and they can ultimately lead to a relapse.
Then there are those of us who don’t have any trauma associated with the holidays but are worried that this time of year has all the trappings that could also cause us to relapse. These are because, for some of us in recovery, the holidays can be filled with “triggers.”
The Holidays in Recovery: Avoiding Triggers
There is a concept often discussed in 12-Step recovery referred to as “people, places, and things.” This represents the three primary things that may trigger us and lead to a relapse. Also, this idea is often supercharged around the holidays.
The holidays have long been intrinsically linked to alcohol and even alcohol misuse. There is this idea that not only is it okay to overindulge in alcohol, but that it is expected. This is most certainly a trigger of the “things” variety.
Then there is also the reality that the holidays often put us in situations with people that we may not otherwise like to spend time with. For those of us in recovery, being around these people can bring about emotions and resentments that could challenge our sobriety.
Lastly, it is not uncommon for the holidays to put us in places that may feel uncomfortable. For some of us, this may be at a bar for a hometown holiday reunion with old high school friends, it could be at a work party where there is heavy drinking, or at a holiday party thrown at our home where we feel as though we are obligated to attend. These are the “places” that could trigger a relapse. But, by staying connected to others in recovery, there needn’t be any concern.
The Holidays in Recovery: Staying Connected to Others
Having a healthy sober network is one of the best ways that we can ensure that we will not be stuck in a situation or around people that may jeopardize our recovery. A healthy sober network ensures that we will have someone to talk to when we are feeling uncomfortable.
Also, it can be a lifeline if we need to leave someplace that we fear may imperil our sobriety. Even if the person on the other end of the line isn’t available to come and rescue us from an uncomfortable situation, they may know someone who can, or they may offer some options such as helping to pay for a car service. They will also be able to remind us of the tenets of recovery, one of which is “acceptance is the answer.”
The Holidays in Recovery: Acceptance Is the Answer
There is something that is often said at the beginning of 12-Step recovery meetings. It is known as the “Acceptance Statement,” and it reads, “And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation – some fact of my life – unacceptable to me. I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.”
Now, this does not mean that we must “accept” any type of pressure or discomfort around the holidays. No, it means that when we accept that some things around the holidays make us uncomfortable, then we can move forward and find some alternative ways to spend the holidays. We can throw a party with our friends in recovery. Have a sober gift exchange. Bring our own beverages to a party and not worry about what other people think. We can even just accept that the holidays aren’t our favorite time of year and move on from there. That is a gift of recovery; we can be our own person now.
Helping People Recover Year-Round at Lantana Recovery
Here at Lantana Recovery, we understand that the holidays can be tough. But, we know that by doing the right things year-round, we can make them go a little bit smoother.
Even around the holidays, it is important to remember the maxim, “One day at a time.” Because one day at a time is the best way to remember the blessings of recovery, and recovery is better than any other holiday gift we could hope for.
The December holidays can be a very trying time for many people, especially for individuals in recovery. Events such as work parties, going back to a hometown, and family dinners can be very triggering. However, there are some tips and techniques on how to stay sober and avoid relapse over the holidays (such as knowing when to walk away, bringing your own beverages, calling someone, “hitting a meeting,” and pausing when agitated). If you feel like you or a loved one is struggling with issues of addiction, mental health, or both, we can help. For more information on spending the holidays in sobriety, please reach out to Lantana Recovery today at (866) 997-2870.