How the Holidays Affect Those in Recovery and What You Can Do to Stay Clean and Sober

December 13, 2021 4:42 pm Published by Leave your thoughts


For many, the holidays are a time of celebration and joy. For others, the season brings added stress, frustration and sadness. For those who are struggling with addiction, the holidays are often the most difficult time of year to stay clean and sober.

How the holidays affect recovery

The holidays can impact recovery on several fronts. First, if someone has lost family members due to addiction, illness, death or conflict, the holidays may bring up feelings of regret, sorrow and loneliness. For those who have turned to drugs and alcohol to numb these emotions in the past, it can be tempting to turn to those sources again.

The holidays also present many tempting situations for those who are trying to abstain from alcohol. Work and family parties, community festivals and other festive occasions almost always involve alcohol of some sort. It may be hard to resist joining in the imbibing when everyone else seems to be enjoying it without consequences.

How to stay clean and sober during the holidays

Fortunately, it is possible to stay clean and sober during the holidays. Others have done it, and so can you. It helps to be prepared with some proactive steps you can take when the holiday season hits. Try the following:

  • Know your limits: You know your friends and relatives and how interactions with them will probably go. If you have an uncle who will encourage you to drink or a friend who stresses you out and makes you want a drink, limit your exposure to them. Surround yourself with people who will encourage you and help you stay clean and sober instead.
  • Grab a glass: As soon as you arrive at a holiday party, grab a non-alcoholic beverage. Keep this drink in your hand so others won’t offer you something else to drink. It’s simple, but it works.
  • Beef up support: Make meetings and calls to sponsors a top priority. Maybe you make a call before an event and right after. And if you’re traveling for the holidays, find meetings to attend wherever you are, or try a phone or video meeting.
  • Try new traditions: Create new ways to celebrate that fit with your clean and sober life. You could host a sober gathering or volunteer at a support group. Focus on giving. If there are old traditions that involve triggers, don’t continue them. Try new traditions that will encourage you and help you stay clean and sober.
  • Maintain your priorities: Sobriety is your top priority—not holiday parties. Maintain the philosophy that any event is optional, while sobriety is not. It’s okay to politely decline any invitations to parties that you don’t think will be healthy for you to attend.
  • Make other healthy choices: The holidays are often a time of overeating combined with little activity as you’re stuck indoors. You don’t have to say no to every Christmas cookie, but be mindful of what you eat and how you take care of your body. When you’re full of sugar- and fat-filled foods, you probably won’t feel too great, which can make it easier to indulge in other vices, too.

Get support

If you’re looking for more tips on how to stay clean and sober during the holidays, contact Apple Valley Counseling Services LLC. We offer safe, personal and affordable counseling for those dealing with substance abuse and domestic violence. We’re available 24/7 at 509-452-1000.

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