20 Nov Recovery and the Holidays
Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash
The holiday season is upon us. Hello, Starbucks Pumpkin Spiced Lattes! But also, hello, spiced bourbon and cinnamon toddies (*sigh*). Okay, we’re not trying to trigger anyone here so please keep reading because we promise this post is geared toward solution and NOT toward glorifying those toddies. Besides, if you’ve spent any time in recovery, it’s doubtful that you reflect back longingly on your monster hangovers and pulsating headaches. “I love praying to the porcelain Gods at 3 AM,” said no drunk, ever. We’re just sayin’, it’s really easy to associate the holidays with drinking (and drugging, particularly come December 31st).
Holidays do unfortunately happen to be quite triggering for many addicts, and while this is a good thing to be mindful of, it certainly doesn’t need to be a time of dread. Holidays provide the perfect opportunity to spend time with family and loved ones, bust out your ugliest light-up Rudolf or menorah sweater, and snuggle up by a warm fire. And for those without families or those with family dynamics that just don’t work, you have your recovery community to fall back on. Even if you haven’t made tons of sober friends in recovery yet, there are recovery meetings going on all the time, whether you attend AA, NA, SMART Recovery, or any other number of fellowships. It really is like having an instant network of friends wherever you go. Even if you’re on a family vacation, more often than not unless you’re in some really obscure part of the world, you should be able to find a meeting.
For those who’ve been in recovery for a while, the thought of being around booze (or drugs) is likely no big deal, but if you’re in early sobriety, it’s a good idea to be mentally prepared. Pay attention to your triggers and make sure you have a pretty open line of communication with your sober fellows, your sponsor (if you have one), and take care of YOU.
Let’s take holiday parties, for example. No one is going to force you to stay at a party that’s alcohol-heavy if you’re feeling uncomfortable. Make sure friends and loved ones are aware that you’re not drinking and consider taking your own car to parties if you’re able to. This way, if you need to leave early, you can politely bow out. You can even sneak out if goodbyes make you uncomfortable or you don’t feel like explaining yourself. If people are drinking and socializing, they’re most likely not even going to notice and if they do, you can explain to them the next day that you were tired. Or, simply tell them the truth if you’re comfortable doing so. At the end of the day, your sobriety is more important than what anyone thinks or does. Also, close family members and true friends should totally understand and be supportive.
Non-alcoholic fizzy beverages (the cranberry soda decoy)…
If you’re still not comfortable sharing that you’re in recovery with people, you can always opt to keep a non-alcoholic fizzy beverage in hand at all times. Cranberry sodas are perfect because they LOOK like cocktails, and can help you avoid the ever-awkward question about why you’re not drinking. Of course, you don’t want to have to resort to tricks like this forever, but we find the decoy cocktail can be ultra-effective in early recovery, particularly during the holidays when people are getting sauced.
Own your recovery – relish in the fact that you’ll wake up bright-eyed the next morning…
At some point, it’ll just get easier to share openly with people that you don’t drink or use anymore. By the same token, you don’t really owe anyone an explanation at all. “No thank you,” is a perfectly acceptable answer if someone offers you a drink (or a line of cocaine). If they keep pressing about why you’re not drinking or ingesting any powdery party favors, you can choose how you’d like to respond. Just know, however, that it’s really no one’s business why, and anyone who’s truly bothered by the fact that you’re sober may have a drug or alcohol problem themselves that they don’t want to look at. People who have a “take it or leave it” attitude when it comes to drugs and alcohol most likely won’t even notice that you’re not partaking. We know that it’s not always comfortable for everyone to be this straightforward in these types of situations, or to have an “it’s none of your business” attitude. As you move through your recovery, though, this is a really good mindset to ultimately adopt.
Your recovery is never something to be ashamed of. If anything, you should be incredibly proud of yourself for staying clean throughout the holidays and just in general. They say that those (if they are, indeed, true-blue addicts) who make it past day one in recovery are miracles. That’s right, you’re the exception and not the rule. If you’ve put down the bottle (or the drug, or set aside any other compulsive behavior) for any length of time, you deserve some serious self-love. So, give yourself a big hug, you miracle, and just know that over time, the holidays will get a whole lot easier. You might even grow to love them more than ever before. After all, those pumpkin spiced lattes are pretty divine (and don’t forget pumpkin pie, fresh baked cookies, and all of the other non-alcoholic yumminess that comes with the holidays). ‘Tis the season to be super proud of your recovery because, well, it’s beyond awesome, and so are you!
Kembali is here for you
If you or someone that you know and love is struggling to get or stay clean, Kembali Recovery Center can help. Contact us today to learn more about our Residential Treatment Program and our Recovery and Beyond Program. You never have to do this alone.