Being an alcoholic or addict in early recovery can be challenging at the best of times when adverts, TV shows, movies or just a walk down a busy street can be full of triggers that remind us of just “how good” drinking and using was. Complacency and unnecessary pressure are two of sobrieties greatest enemies. Sometimes alcoholics and addicts in early recovery feel a need to “test” themselves. The old recovery saying ‘If you sit in a barber’s chair for long enough you’re going to get a haircut!” is no cliché, it’s true. So at holiday times keep yourself safe. There are innumerable tools to help with this. Try to make a plan, if you are going to be around normal drinkers, make sure you have your own transport and don’t be afraid to leave if you start to feel uncomfortable, have a good idea of where you feel comfortable and avoid being tempted to string along to “wet places’, parties or nightclubs that may be full of intoxicated people and so forth.
This doesn’t mean that recovery is dull. Often recovering people band together and go dancing and partying, keeping each other safe and having a fantastic time. Try and arrange to be in company with at least one sober friend. As obvious as it sounds hanging out with serious users or drinkers or with addicts or alcoholics in active addiction is just a BAD idea. Holiday season is definitely better spent with sober friends. It will help to have a plan for the next day too, that way you know you need a good nights rest. Arrange to go out for a meal and enjoy the food and company, this can really be one of the gifts of recovery, very few alcoholics and addicts took the time or opportunity to enjoy these simple pleasures in active addiction. Keep an eye on the film guides and give yourself options in your recreational time. Try something new to enjoy, whether it is ten pin bowling or a night at the theatre or simply a moonlit walk with friends, sobriety is meant to be fun. There is a good reason that addicts and alcoholics try to get clean, the past, active addiction, was not a great place to be, the present can be, so make a conscious effort to be kind to yourself. Don’t duck meetings, you are not alone, many fellow addicts and alcoholics are going through the same thing particularly around Christmas and New Year. Go to meetings and talk about your feelings. Go for coffee after the meeting, talk to other alcoholics and addicts and see what they are doing to stay safe.
Make sure that you are aware of any meeting closures on public holidays, if you are travelling, check out meetings in advance using the internet and put the meeting times in your plans. Use your phone before you pick up and use and drugs including alcohol! Keep a few “hot” numbers, as well as your sponsor, friends from rehab, your counsellor, people from the recovery rooms who you have heard speaking. Put these numbers on speed dial on your phone and use them. Remember that other recovery mnemonic and don’t get too HALT – hungry, angry, lonely and tired. It’s also important to ensure that you are eating regularly and properly, as well as getting the rest you need.
Living in sobriety, like any challenge is ultimately rewarding, stay aware and vigilant around Holiday times and enjoy the change that sobriety brings; addicts and alcoholics in recovery are never alone in any sense. Use the recovery tools, the phone and groups for support and enjoy sobriety not only in the Holidays, but all year round!
This article is written by WeDoRecover who provide free advice for those seeking immediate residential rehab for addiction treatment, either for the first time or after a period of relapse.