This topic of discussion may seem redundant by now, but when you find yourself in a situation you are not prepared for, these tips will come back to you, and hopefully become very handy. The holidays are a time to eat, drink, and be merry. But what if you’re a recovering alcoholic/ addict.
The season for cocktails, parties, and good times can be a tough one to navigate. Check out the 8 tips we have to staying safe, being prepared, and knowing when a situation would negatively impact your recovery:
“The holidays are a stressful time, and many people find that using a substance is a way of coping with stress brought about by family and loved ones.”
1. Lean on Your Support System
This is our go to, must have always, a solid support system. If you're part of a support group, make time to attend a few extra meetings during the holidays to stay on track. Stay close with your sponsor, if you have one, your friends in recovery, family if they are part of your support group. It’s those you have met during your recovery journey, that have become your support system, that understand the best all you are going through. Stay close to these people.
2. Know Your Triggers
Addicts should know their triggers for relapse and how to manage them, it is a very important part of the addiction cycle to understand.The most common triggers: HALT- when you feel hungry, angry, lonely, or tired, take a minute to take care of yourself, mentally and physically. Staying ahead of HALT is your best bet.
3. Evaluate Each Situation
Rank situational scenarios as low, medium, or high risk for you. In early recovery, spend more time in low-risk situations to avoid as many high-risk ones as possible. If you’re further into recovery and will be in a situation that is medium- or high-risk, such as a party with an open bar, rely on a sober escape plan. For example of it becomes to much you have a plan in place to leave. You may arrive early and duck out a bit early. You may drive yourself so that you can leave when you're ready. There are many plans, just make sure to have one.
4. Rehearse Responses
If you’re not ready to share the fact that you're in recovery with every aunt and cousin at your family holiday dinner, use a discrete strategy for turning down alcoholic drinks or other substances. You could create a script that you can use to decline off-limits offers, this will help you prepare for any scenario that could be coming your way.
5. Don’t Forget to Eat
Low blood sugar can leave you anxious and irritable. This, in turn, can make you feel impulsive and tempted by substances. Have a nutritious meal or snack about every three hours.
6. Bring the Party With You
Take along a food or safe drink that you enjoy. For instance, if champagne is a big temptation for you at a New Year’s soiree, bring a flavored, sparkling water to sip as the clock counts down.
7. Distract Yourself
Bring along a buddy who doesn’t drink, smoke, or use drugs to help you stay sober at holiday parties, dinners, functions, etc. This will keep you accountable, and help you be more comfortable being around alcohol and partying.
8. Learn to Move Past Your Cravings
A craving only lasts about 20 minutes, so if you can stay strong for a short period, the urge should pass. Move to a different setting, meditate, or breathe deeply. Talk yourself out of acting on your urge, play that tape through, and connect with the risk you would be taking by giving into that craving.