In Recovery: Difficult Holiday Situations and How to Deal with Them

Holidays and Addiction Recovery: Difficult Situations and How to Deal with Them

The holiday season has officially arrived and, along with the traditions, music, and celebrations come some potentially difficult challenges if you are in recovery from drug or alcohol abuse. There may be some gatherings you’re really looking forward to and others you entirely excited about. You may have to navigate certain relatives or workmates, and you may have to handle offers for drinks or drugs. All the while, you may worry about the approval of others. How do you deal with holiday stress, stay sober, and enjoy the holidays?

Holiday stress can be reduced by planning ahead. Get out your calendar. Which events are you planning to attend? Consider each event. Where will the party be held? Who is going to be there? Will a meal, dessert, and/or drinks be served? Are you supposed to bring gifts or food to share? Are you looking forward to the party? How do you feel about those you’ll spend time with? Do you anticipate any obstacles?

Many holiday celebrations are known for feasting and drinking. If sobriety is your priority, these simple steps can help you feel more comfortable and better prepared.

  • Set your intention for sobriety. “I will go to the party, I’ll stay sober, and I’ll have a great time.”
  • Prior to the event, talk with one person who will also attend – someone who supports your sobriety. Bring phone numbers of at least two supportive friends and a sobriety hotline. If things get uncomfortable for any reason, step away for a centering chat or a reassuring call.
  • If you know that an event will be emotional, stressful, or triggering, go early and make a polite appearance.
  • Arrive early and leave early. Heavy drinking usually happens later in the party.
  • Drive yourself to the event so you can leave whenever you want.
  • BYOB! Bring your own non-alcoholic-beverage. Try a festive, flavored, sparkling water. Bring enough to share.
  • Eat something. Hunger can cause irritability, increase anxiety, and trigger impulsivity.
  • If you’re offered alcohol or drugs, say, “No, thanks,” and sip your sparkling water. You do not need to explain. If it’s uncomfortable, excuse yourself and shake it off. Reach out for help if you need it.
  • Pre-plan a fun, sober activity for after the party – something to look forward to as a Plan B. Go to a movie or meet up with other friends or family.

If you get stressed, if you get triggered to drink or use drugs, use your tools. Take a break. Go to the bathroom and look in the mirror. Repeat your intention. Talk to a friend or call a hotline. If you’re having a really tough time, it may be time for Plan B.

It is possible to enjoy the holidays and stay sober. If you’re struggling with alcohol or drug abuse this holiday season, call Wasatch Crest. Our compassionate, professional staff are here to help.


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