As we fast approach the holiday season and Christmas time, many people in recovery start to feel the anxiety. They have a lot of spare time, they have to attend family reunions where alcohol is usually involved, and financial pressure rears its head. These are a few of the stresses that come with this time of year.
So the question is:
HOW DO WE SURVIVE SILLY SEASON?
There are a few key points we can look at.
- Being accountable / responsible
Having someone to reach out to is very important during this time. Calling a sponsor or a recovery friend before and after can be great protection if you are going to be in a high-risk situation. We have to take responsibility for our recovery and part of that is having an “escape” plan. It is suggested that if possible you have your own vehicle so that you are able to leave on your own terms should the situation warrant that. People might view this as selfish but remember that your recovery comes before anything else.
- Having realistic expectations of yourself
Don’t fall to the pressure of others and what you might perceive their expectations of you will be. Chances are your family will already know that your recovery comes first and with that, they will also more than likely try to limit your interaction with triggers and possible problematic situations.
It’s important from your side to remember the key factors that make you an addict/alcoholic.
Once you use/drink, you lose control.
Once you lose control, you hurt everyone around you.
When you hurt everyone around you, you disconnect from the vital support system you have in place.
After disconnecting you feel isolated, alone and misunderstood.
The feeling of uselessness and self-pity returns and the cycle starts again.
You have to be gentle on yourself during this time; rather not take the risk and stay clean/sober, than take the risk and land up drunk or high. Your family will understand and appreciate it when you all wake up on Christmas morning and you are present and clean/sober.
- Engage with your support system
Narcotics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, any of the anonymous programs out there are good places to frequent during this time. Staying connected with like-minded people could be the difference between a New Year filled with dread, shame and guilt and a New Year filled with renewed hope, love and possibilities. We as addicts have the ability to think that we are normal people and can engage in festive activities like normal people forgetting that just under the surface we are minutes from our next relapse. The reminders and discussions with other addicts can be used to reinforce our goals and desires for our lives, priority number one always being our recovery.
- Take time out of your day to reflect on your life and recovery.
Some might suggest meditation or prayer, but taking some time out for you is very important. Processing and reflecting on our lives gives us the guidance we need to maintain recovery. Find a space and a place where you can spend some time and evaluate what you need for yourself and your recovery. This time will pay off for those around you when you partake in your own life.
- Keep to your systems and structures as much as possible.
Experience says that addicts of any kind are not fond of change. Attempting to stay in your recovery routines as much as possible can make this time easier. Regardless if you are away on holiday or just extra busy. Most recovering addicts have a morning routine that sets their day on the right path, don’t suddenly change that routine and forget to do the thing that works for your life and recovery. Try to maintain step work if you were busy with it before the season. As stated before, continue meetings and speaking to your sponsor. Working a daily program is a key factor to long term sobriety/recovery.
These are but a few points to look at during this time. Please feel free to comment below on what you might need to do during this time, or contact us directly for advice.
The team at Bethesda wishes everyone a blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year.