The holidays are a wonderful time to get together with friends, family, and coworkers to celebrate the season. There’s nothing like the food, the presents, and the holiday lights. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to get into the holiday spirit for those of us who struggle with addiction.
The holiday season also comes with a lot of stress, and celebrations often have plenty of alcohol. Avoiding temptation can be nearly impossible when the beverages are flowing, and difficult family members can cause enough stress to make you want to go back to old habits.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re trying to avoid a relapse after a stay in a mental health hospital or you’re tackling sober living on your own, there are ways you can enjoy the holidays without ruining all the progress you’ve made.
1. Bring Your Own Beverages
As a person with substance abuse issues, not knowing what you’re going to drink when you arrive at a holiday is a recipe for disaster. You won’t want to be the only one drinking ice water while everyone else is drinking wine.
The easiest solution is to bring your own beverages. Bring along some soda, some juice, or some non-alcoholic bubbly. That way, you can ensure you have an enjoyable beverage in your hand during the holiday party. Having an interesting drink can also help you avoid uncomfortable questions from coworkers, friends, and family members.
2. Bring Someone with You to the Holiday Party
Going to a party alone can be a little scary, whether you’re trying to stay sober or not. But you might feel better if you bring someone with you.
Having a friend or family member can help you in social situations, especially in situations where alcohol and other temptations may be present.
Those who know about your addiction can remind you to stay strong. They can also remove you from dangerous situations before you make decisions you’ll regret. However, a friend who doesn’t know you have an addiction can be just as helpful. They can ensure you have a good time, so you aren’t tempted to turn to alcohol to relax and enjoy yourself.
3. Know What You’re Going to Say Ahead of Time
If you’re going to a party where alcohol is going to be present, and you choose not to drink, you can be fairly confident that someone is going to ask you if they can get you something. Others may flat out ask you why you aren’t having a glass of wine or a can of beer.
Don’t be caught off-guard. Come prepared with an answer; whatever you’re comfortable telling them. You can say that you’ve decided to stop drinking for health reasons, you can explain to them that you’ve had trouble with addiction, or you can just ell them that you’re driving tonight. The important thing is that you’re comfortable and staying sober.
4. Do Something Besides Sit Around
Many people have unrealistic expectations when hosting or attending a party. They mistakenly think that having a little food and plenty of alcohol is enough to ensure everyone has a good time. Not only is that not likely to be true, but it’s definitely not true for people who can’t drink.
Even if you aren’t hosting the party, come prepared with something to do besides sitting around. The more you just sit and watch everyone else drink, the more you will want to partake.
A few ideas for fun holiday party activities you can do with other guests include:
- Get other guests to play a game of charades.
- Bring holiday-themed mad libs to complete at the party.
- Bring a board game that you know your friends enjoy.
5. Have Someone On Call
No matter how prepared you think you are, when you step foot into a holiday party, you may find that dealing with so many people, temptations, and stress is just too much. It can be helpful to have someone on call.
When this time of year rolls around, ask a close friend or family member who understands your personal challenges if they can make themselves available to you while you’re at your holiday events. That way, you know there’s someone you can call if your holiday event becomes too much to handle alone.
6. Don’t Be Afraid to Say No to Holiday Events
Learning to say no can be hard. Many people don’t want to let others down, so they agree to things they shouldn’t. That includes holiday gatherings that will likely trigger a relapse.
It’s important to think of yourself first this holiday season. Even if it means disappointing the person who invited you to get together, your sobriety comes first. If you think a particular gathering or party will be too tempting or it will create too much stress, just say no.
Don’t feel like you have to explain yourself, either. You can even fib and say you already have something going on, even if you don’t. Saying yes is not worth giving up your sobriety.
7. Take Care of Yourself
No matter how you decide to tackle your sober holidays, make sure you take the time to take care of yourself. Do things that enable you to relax, like read a book, play a video game, or take a mental health day off work.
If you need it, remember that addiction treatment is available year-round. At Port St. Lucie Hospital, we are ready to help you start the path to recovery this holiday season. If you have questions about treatment for yourself or a loved one, fill out this contact form or call our admissions staff (772) 238-7734.