Resources & Education

December 1st, 2015

May Your Days be Healthy and Bright

How to Stick to Your Recovery Plan this Holiday Season

Portrait of laughing girlfriends having christmas snacks in christmas decorated kitchenThe holidays can be a comforting time of year that brings family and friends together, but for many, they can bring family pressures, stresses, financial constraints, and the temptations of alcohol and other substances. If you have been successfully committed to your substance recovery treatment plan, there is no need to fear the holiday season, nor any reason to feel that you must isolate yourself if you want to remain sober until January. Following the tips below can help you successfully maintain your treatment plan without fear of relapse during the season of excess and temptations.

  1. Recommit to your recovery plan every day. The days between Thanksgiving and New Year’s do not need to be treated differently than any other day during your recovery. To help you remain focused and remember your ultimate goal of sobriety, recommit every morning to your goals and remind yourself how good it feels to be drug and alcohol free. Reminding yourself of your current progress and ultimate goal can help you stay strong when faced with peer pressures, and feelings of depression and stress that can accompany the holiday season.
  2. Prioritize your needs first. If you know that a weekend spent with your family will leave you feeling stressed and looking for an escape, tell your family that your visit will only last one day. Remember that you do not need to place anyone else’s needs or happiness above your own. Your recovery treatment plan deserves to be your number one priority.
  3. Find a sobriety support center on the road. Even if you are traveling away from home, you can find substance abuse recovery support groups that you can attend to help reinforce your commitment to your sobriety, even when you are outside of your day-to-day routine. Remember that no matter where you go, you are never alone.
  4. Stay active and make a plan. Avoid places and people who may not be supportive of your goals. Ask family members and friends who you can trust to make holiday plans with you that do not involve drinking and partying. Consider museum tours, ice skating, snowshoeing, holiday decorating, and other events that will keep you feeling active and focused on leading a healthy lifestyle. Be sure to maintain a healthy diet, get enough sleep, and take any prescribed medications as directed by your physician. Staying healthy will reduce your risk of turning to drugs or alcohol as a form of comfort or pain management.
  5. Celebrate the holidays with those who understand your goals. Consider planning your own holiday celebration with members of your recovery support group. No one understands the challenges and temptations of maintaining sobriety during the holidays like who have made the same commitment. Together, you can empathize with each other’s struggles, and give one another the support needed to stay clean until January.
  6. Have a plan incase temptation strikes. Before you travel or attend any holiday functions, work with your counselor to have a plan to deal with temptations or cravings that may occur. Your counselor will help develop a crisis intervention plan that is right for you. It may involve calling a member of your support team, reading from a recovery book, prayer, or turning to a safe place or activity. When temptation occurs, focus on staying clean and sober for one minute at a time, then focus on two minutes, five minutes, and build your goals from there.
  7. Most importantly, be honest with those around you. There is nothing shameful about being in recovery. Rather, it deserves respect and praise. Rather than feeling like you need to keep your recovery and associated behavior a secret, tell those around you during the holidays about your sobriety goals. When friends and family understand why you are turning down offers of drinks, or parties, they can treat you in ways that support your recovery.

The holidays come with different expectations for everyone. The most important decision you can make this holiday is to remain committed to your recovery. After making progress toward a sober and healthy life, reinforce that commitment by staying true to yourself and spending the holidays with only those people in only those places that will help you stay clean and sober this season.

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