The upcoming holidays are often a difficult time for anyone. Add being in recovery and it becomes more difficult. If it’s your first time around, it can be overwhelming: parties, holidays, friends and plenty of temptations. And, of course, there’s nothing that can push our buttons more often than our own family. How can I have a good time if I’m in recovery?
First of all, especially for someone who is new in the program, look for the book Living Sober. It is published by AA Services, but the advice is easily applicable to anyone in recovery from any addiction. The book has several chapters on how to stay clean and sober during the holidays and other events where we may find ourselves tempted. If not this book, then there are others available that your homegroup can recommend to help you through those difficult first months. The holidays are especially fraught with times where liquor is flowing in large quantities and when people step outside for a smoke, it may not be just tobacco that is burning.
Be prepared. Drugs and alcohol permeate our society. You can’t nor are you expected to hide yourself away forever from the world. If this is your first time going through a holiday season clean and sober, talk to your sponsor or a trusted friend in your program. Ask them how they made it through that first holiday season, ask them for suggestions and recommendations. My sponsor does a lot of role playing so that his sponsees can get used to the language of sobriety as well as to the possible scenarios that may occur.
Perhaps we only go to part of a gathering and not stay until the end like we were likely to do in the past. Some fiestas we may want to miss all together because we know who will be attending and we know they may be a trigger for us. Bring along a friend you trust who knows your are in recovery. Have an escape plan to fall back upon if it is getting too difficult. It’s okay to admit there are times when we are weak. There is no shame is stepping back from the action. None of us is made of stone; in early sobriety we might not yet know our limits so we need not lead ourselves into temptation.
Like everything else in recovery, these events become easier to handle as time goes on. But everyone still has to maintain their guard. Keep an eye on your glass. Just recently I refused a soda at a party because it smelled a bit “off”. I’m sure it was fine, but I am not willing to take the chance. It was easy just to sent it down on a table and then talk with folks and casually leave it behind as I joined another circle of friends. My recovery is my number one priority. I won’t risk it to please a host. Fortunately, a good host won’t care if a guest doesn’t imbibe. You may even make new friends by becoming the designated driver.
Be careful during this season. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Peer pressure and family pressure may seem like a lot at the time, but it will alway lessen. If you don’t go to the company Christmas party, there’s always one next year when you will have more experience at living sober in party world. January will arrive and things will get back to normal again.
Enjoy the holidays clean and sober.