Between parties and family get-togethers, staying sober during the holidays can be a challenge. Interacting with old friends and family members may stir up hard feelings, bad memories, difficult conversations, and tempting situations. But by following these tips, it’s possible to thrive—not just survive—this holiday season.
1. Have a plan in place.
Before going to a party or spending time with family, think about what will happen. Have a team of friends and accountability partners to provide support. Here are some questions to ask:
- “Who is going to be there?”
- “What feelings will this bring up?”
- “Am I even ready to go?”
2. Let the family know.
Families often get together and drink this time of year. Anyone in recovery from alcohol addiction should tell their family beforehand that they are in recovery and won’t be drinking alcohol this year.
3. Invite people over.
Going out to an event venue or with a group may be too much of a temptation. Instead, consider asking people over and hosting a party.
4. Have healthy conversations.
Holding everything in will make things worse. Begin to have authentic conversations—it will feel uncomfortable at first, but it will bring healing. Being honest and real will inspire other family members to feel open enough to share.
5. Make amends.
Addiction is a family disease. But most families don’t even realize how addiction is connected to the family system. Getting together with family can be a time to forgive others, as well as to ask for forgiveness.
6. Continue to go to recovery meetings.
Don’t stop going to meetings just because family members want to do activities together. Spending time with family is important, but recovery should still be a priority. If something interferes with attending a recovery group, set boundaries and learn to say no.
7. Watch out for triggers.
Whether it’s a person, place, or thing, there will always be the temptation to relapse. Look out for these. Find ways to work around these triggers by looking for healthier ways to cope and do things to inspire sober living. For example, painting—or a similar activity—can help calm stress and anxiety.
8. Start new traditions.
If family and friends have always had certain Christmas traditions, they may expect everyone to participate. And for a person in recovery from alcohol addiction, putting sobriety first may feel selfish. One way to put recovery first is to start new traditions. Perhaps invite an entire Life Recovery Group over to watch a Christmas movie together.
9. Remember, the old is gone, and the new has come.
The Bible says, “The old life is gone; a new life has begun” (2 Corinthians 5:17). There is nothing more encouraging than having a new year to start over again. The old life is in the past, and a new life is here!
by Corey Busk
Excerpted from Life Recovery Today with Stephen Arterburn.