The holiday season is usually a time for families to come together to celebrate with the ones they love. It’s also a time when many families have loved ones visiting from out of town and kids coming home from college for the holiday break. While this time of year is fun for most, for those recovering from alcohol addiction, the holidays can be a difficult time.
Challenges at work, family dysfunction, financial obligations and many other things can make stress levels go through the roof, and it’s not uncommon for extra holiday stress to drive people in recovery to relapse.
At Enterhealth, we understand that this period can also be one of the most trying times of the year for those in recovery. That’s why we’ve put together this list of helpful tips that can help during the holiday season:
Tip #1 – Plan Activities Other Than Sitting and Talking
For many families, getting together for the holidays means sitting around chatting and drinking, and if that sounds like your family, we encourage you to investigate other options now. Simple things such as trips to the movies, museums, holiday concerts, skating and many more activities can help pass the time and limit stress. If cold weather prevents outdoor activities, try things that will keep everyone focused and busy indoors, such as decorating holiday cookies, playing board games or watching old movies.
Tip #2 – Stay Sober at the Party by Serving Yourself or Bringing Your Own (Non-alcoholic) Drinks
To avoid even having to go to the bar, bring your own beverages (such as a bottle of water or soda) and set them up somewhere that’s not by the bar. If it’s not possible for you to bring your own, go straight to the refreshments and fix yourself a safe drink.
Keep your drink in your hand throughout the party and refill as needed. This will prevent you from having to keep turning down offers of something to drink, and no one will unknowingly be tempting you to drink alcohol.
Tip #3 – Find Ways to Manage Your Stress Without Alcohol
The best way to manage your drinking problem is to properly manage your stress and avoid the things you know to be triggers to drink. One of the biggest priorities in recovery is to find other ways to deal with stress, such as talking with a friend or family member, exercising, or setting aside time in the day to relax. While it can be tricky, try not to worry about giving the “best” gifts or having enough money to buy gifts for everyone. For those who really matter, your love and sobriety should be enough.
Tip #4 – Treat Yourself
It’s hard for many to stop drinking, especially during the holiday season. You can benefit from not yielding to the temptation of drinking by rewarding yourself when you don’t drink. Reward yourself with a small gift, a tasty treat or anything else that brings you happiness.
Tip #5 – Have a Backup Plan and Be Ready to Leave
When battling an addiction, it’s important to have a plan just in case you find yourself in an environment where there is alcohol present and you cannot handle the temptation. Having a plan and knowing how you’re going to handle the situation will help you significantly.
Tell a family member and/or close friend about your recovery process and call them in case of an emergency to help you in those situations. Keep your car keys or taxi fare in your pocket, and if you suddenly feel overwhelmed by temptation leave immediately. Don’t try to test yourself.
How to be Sensitive to Family Members in Recovery
If you or someone you care about is a recovering alcoholic, your family needs to understand that no alcohol should be served at any family gatherings or celebrations. We recommend that patients in recovery wait at least a year before being around alcohol use.
Consider having an alcohol-free beverage station, which doesn’t have to be boring or bland. Check out these fabulous “mocktail” recipes from Town & Country Magazine: https://www.townandcountrymag.com/leisure/drinks/g3122/christmas-mocktail-recipes/.
You want the family celebrations and bonding to happen in alcohol-free environments, and people in recovery already get enough temptation from commercials, social media, other family members, etc. If family members cannot abstain from alcohol to support a family member in recovery, perhaps that person should consider whether or not he or she may have a problem with alcohol.
How Enterhealth Can Help
More often than not, it takes more than tips and family support to remain sober during the holidays, and we’re here to help. Enterhealth offers customized, medically based addiction treatment that can reverse the effects of substance abuse on the brain. Our physicians, psychiatrists and other clinicians are all trained in the latest addiction treatment techniques and therapies to give our patients the best possible chance at a successful recovery.
To learn more about how Enterhealth Ranch (our inpatient facility in Van Alstyne) and Enterhealth Outpatient Center of Excellence (our outpatient center in the Park Cities neighborhood of Dallas) can help you or a loved one get over their addiction this holiday season, please call 1.800.388.4601 for more information, or visit our website at enterhealth.com.