The holiday season is often thought of as a time for joy and celebration; spending quality time with friends and family, and relaxing on vacation. However, for many, the holidays can be a stressful time, especially for those suffering from addiction to drugs and alcohol. Many people rely on addiction forming substances to get them through the stress and anxiety of parties and social gatherings. For people struggling with addiction, these social interactions and stressors can be a major trigger and make maintaining sobriety extremely difficult.
Maintaining sobriety during the holiday season can be achieved, but it doesn’t all have to fall on one person. For those suffering from addiction, there are tips and methods for avoiding triggers. The other piece of the puzzle is educating friends and family on how to be supportive during the holiday season. Let’s examine some ways in which both parties can create a positive and supportive atmosphere that promotes smart, healthy decisions.
Tips for Addiction Sufferers, to Help Maintain Their Sobriety
- Bring Your Own Alcohol Substitute – Drinks like sparkling water can be a great substitute for party beverages like champagne or beer. You can still join in with the “cheers” and celebrate, plus having a safe drink in your hand will help deter people from offering you an alcoholic drink or asking any unwanted questions.
- Rehearse Your Responses – Whether you choose to disclose the reason behind your sobriety or not, you will want to pre-plan some of your responses. By knowing exactly what to say to a triggering situation, you can reduce stress and anxiety and feel comfortable saying “no”.
- Create a Plan – Understanding and planning for potential triggers can make a huge difference when you are around addiction hazards. Think about where you are going, who will be there, and what potential issues could arise. This will help you avoid dangerous people and situations or help you think of creative ways to deal with possible triggers. This can also extend to knowing if you should even attend a party or event. By understanding potential pitfalls and your own limits, you will be better equipped to make healthy decisions
- Strategic Timing – Arriving to a party early and leaving late can be a helpful tactic to avoid addiction triggers. By arriving early, you can better gauge the atmosphere of an event and any potential addiction hazards. By leaving early, you can avoid temptations like escalating drinking or post-party bar hopping excursions.
- Communicate With Your Support System – Whether you have a sponsor or a friend that you lean on in tough moments, have a list of people that you can contact if you find yourself in a difficult situation. Talking it out can give you perspective and the support that you need to make healthy choices.
- Eat Healthy – Improper nutrition can lead to increased anxiety and stress. In a situation that is already high-stress, not eating enough can increase the temptation to join in or self medicate. If the event doesn’t have sufficient food, you can bring some snacks to keep you full and focused.
- Manage Your Stress – Knowing your social limits is essential to maintaining sobriety during holiday parties. If you feel like you are becoming overwhelmed, remove yourself from the situation temporarily or permanently. There is no shame in taking a break or going home to avoid addiction temptations. If you don’t want to leave, but you need a break, you can step away and take five or ten minutes to focus or meditate.
Tips for Supporting Someone Who is Struggling with Addiction
As a good friend or family member, we want to support healthy sobriety goals. Understanding what can trigger addiction and how to provide support can be crucial for addiction sufferers during stressful holiday moments. By educating ourselves on triggers and support methods, we can help our friends and family enjoy the festivities and avoid addiction pitfalls.
- Be Aware – If you know or think that a friend or family member has addiction issues, you should avoid subjects or activities that could be a trigger or source of anxiety. It’s courteous to offer someone a drink, but you need to be aware if you are offering an alcoholic drink to an addiction sufferer. Try offering a drink that is a suitable alcohol replacement like sparkling water. They will feel included, but not pressured into making an unhealthy decision.
- Communicate – If you know that a friend or family member may be struggling or dealing with addiction triggers, you can ask them how you can help. What makes them feel comfortable or anxious? What do they need to maintain sobriety? You can also tell them what to expect at a party or event; if there will be triggers or unexpected stressors.
- Create A Friendly Environment – Try to minimize addiction triggers and encourage habits that support sobriety. Your support can make the difference in high-stress holiday party situations.
New Year’s Resolutions
As the holiday season comes to a close, New Year’s resolutions are a great opportunity to reevaluate our recovery goals and redefine them for the next year. Resolutions can come in a variety of shapes and forms and can directly or indirectly affect your recovery path. Additionally, resolutions don’t have to be just for recovering gentlemen, resolutions are also a good time for friends and loved ones to reflect and get involved.
These are the types of New Year’s resolutions that speak directly to addiction. They can range from a goal to not drink on weekdays or to completely cut out an unhealthy habit. Whatever goal you choose, be sure that it is well-defined and obtainable. Resolutions that are too broad are easier to cheat on and can become a slippery slope.
Indirect resolutions should be implemented with the goal to improve your life and sustained happiness. They can be as small as making the bed every morning, to furthering your education, or volunteering in community activities. By being active, involved and a positive force, you can help fight the underlying causes of addiction like depression and isolation.
Support is Here
Whether you struggle with addiction or you want to help your friends and family with sobriety, it’s important to be vigilant during the holiday season. By identifying potential issues, planning ahead, and creating a strategy that fits your needs, we can all enjoy the holiday season together!
If you have any questions or need help managing addiction, our team is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We can provide helpful tips, connect you with support groups, or just be a friend during a tough time.