Triggers. Temptations. Pitfalls. They exist in copious amounts during the holidays.
And they run the gamut!
Diets are destroyed, political barriers are blown away, norms are tossed out the window, and a lot of that is accepted – even joked about – during this time of year.
This sort of attitude toward temptation can be doubly horrid for someone who is on their sobriety or recovery journey.
Addicts run into all manner of additional temptations during the holiday season, made worse by the fact that traveling, socializing, sleeping in guest rooms, etc. can all have a detrimental effect on the body and mind.
We’ve put together a few tips to help you ensure that a Thanksgiving and Christmas season entered sober can be gone through and exited sober as well.
Give Yourself Some Time
Traveling and/or hosting/entertaining is exhausting, whether you love that sort of thing or not. Make sure that you give yourself time; time to rest, time to recover, time to maintain a strong mind and body. Do not let the habits that have kept you healthy fall away. If you take a run every day to clear your mind, don’t give that up – family and friends will understand!
Whatever your sobriety habit is, whatever keeps you centered, make time for it. And make time for self-care as well.
Make a Plan for That Big “Thing”
Whatever it might be, the holidays always bring some “thing” that is certain to offer temptation.
A return to an old neighborhood, and thus memories, and perhaps meetings, of those who helped to enable your addiction; an uncle who just does not understand that you do not want a beer; stress in many forms; an old friend who doesn’t know about your sobriety journey and how hard you’re working to maintain recovery from the addiction that once bonded you both together; alcohol sitting out everywhere with loud invitations to “take whatever you want!” every time someone asks or someone comes in the front door; all of this and more can make a happy holiday scene not-so-happy for an addict who is working hard to stay sober.
Acknowledge that these things will happen and have a plan in place for when they do. Rehearse that plan until you feel comfortable within it. Stay strong and understand that all of the potential temptations and triggers are under your control. Your knowledge and understanding of your situation and what you need to continue successfully on in your recovery from addiction is what you will need to maintain sobriety.
Bring Your Party With You
Familiarity. That’s a massive part of the addiction to recovery journey. Thanksgiving equals football, food, and beer, right? Without all three of those things, something feels wrong.
In this case, bringing with you a satisfying substitute for the temptation that will be present is an excellent idea. Love beer and football, but hate how that will destroy your sobriety? Bring a beer substitute with you. And it doesn’t have to be a borderline horrid substitute either. O’Douls does not own the market anymore. Craft breweries and bigger breweries are all making excellent alcohol free options.
If your temptation is something beyond alcohol, bring something that will occupy your mind when those cravings hit.
A craving will last for about 20 minutes before the body naturally dismisses it and moves on. During that time, any of these holiday coping skills, or any of your regular coping skills, will help you move through the craving successfully.
Don’t forget to lean on your support system as well if things feel like they’re getting a little out of hand. You are surrounded by family and friends – utilize them. They will care and they will help. Keep your sponsor’s number handy, they will have wise words and experience to pass along.
The holidays are a grand time full of many varied traditions across millions of families. Your holidays may be a bit different now that recovery has become a focal point, but that does not mean that they will be any less fun.
The most important thing during the holidays is to find your joy. Center yourself there and no amount of temptation can move you.
All of us at Compass wish you and yours a very happy, joy-filled Thanksgiving!