Lorelie Rozzano is a guest blogger for Vertava Health.
4 Ways To Stay Clean And Sober Through The Holiday Season.
You’ve gorged on turkey, eaten too many deserts, had your fill of chocolate and drank way too many cups of coffee. You got through the awkward moments of seeing relatives for the first time since you’ve been clean and sober. You survived Christmas without taking a single drink or using drugs. But you know the hardest part of the holidays are still in front of you. Now that December 25th has passed everyone is gearing up for New Year’s Eve. It’s the biggest party of the year and the one night where getting wasted, and making a fool out of yourself, is almost a rite of passage.
You can’t turn on the television or scroll through social media without seeing young smiling faces with drinks in front of them. The message is loud and clear, ‘Drink this and have fun!’ What should be the happiest time of the year, fills you with dread. It’s hard enough to fight the urges and stay sober on an everyday basis. When you throw in the Christmas parties, get-togethers and general expectations of happiness, life gets stressful.
As you listen to friends and family make plans for ringing in the New Year, you wonder where you fit. You’re not the same person you were before getting clean and sober. You stand on shaky legs. You’re thankful you’re not using drugs and alcohol anymore, but dealing with all the holiday hype is overwhelming.
Being a person in early recovery is like being a lobster shedding its shell. You’re at your most vulnerable as you shed your old lifestyle, but haven’t yet grown into your new one. Before the new you becomes comfortable and safe, there is a period of danger that needs to be observed.
The Christmas holiday blahs may set in. You might have over-spent this year trying to make up for your past. Or the exact opposite may have happened. You might still be cleaning up your financial wreckage and not have the funds to give any gifts at all. Either way, you’re likely to feel shame, guilt and remorse. Not because you did anything wrong this year, but because it’s an old familiar feeling. Please note as you accumulate more days clean and sober, this will happen less often.
The struggle can signify lack of effort. Think about all the time and energy you put into getting high. It was a full-time job. Recovery requires the same commitment. To lessen the likelihood of relapse this holiday season you must reach out. Below are four ways to stay clean and sober through the days ahead.
- Don’t isolate – As everyone else gets ready to party, you may be feeling sorry for yourself. It’s natural to want to isolate through this period and cut off communication with friends and family. But disconnection is the last thing you should be doing. Rembert the enemy doesn’t live ‘out there.’ It lives in your head. And what goes on in your head becomes an act of relapse if not caught and confessed. When you’re not working a program of recovery your disease is free to work on you.
- Stay away from slippery places – As the old saying goes, ‘hang out in a barbershop long enough and you’re sure to get a cut.’ No matter how tempting it may be to drop by the bar and nightclubs and hang with your old buddies, don’t do it. Your intention may be to have a soda and then go, but your actions spell RELAPSE. It would be like a goldfish going for a swim in shark-infested waters. It’s a terrible idea that can undo everything you’ve worked so hard for. Even if drinking wasn’t your thing just being in that atmosphere can start cravings and wake the beast that sleeps within.
- Find your tribe – Yes you miss your old buddies. They were a lot of fun. But now it’s time to make new friends. Friends that when you share your story, say “me too.” These new friends have walked in your shoes. They know what it’s like to be enslaved to addiction. They also know what it’s like to be dope-sick. There isn’t anything you can’t tell them. Best of all, you don’t have to hide anything from them. And even if you wanted too, you couldn’t. For these new friends can see right through you. You can share your thoughts and feelings openly with them. They won’t judge you. They’ll give you direction and walk with you through these strange and new beginnings.
- Go to a recovery meeting every day. Relapse doesn’t just happen. It happens over time. It starts with loneliness, complacency and being phony. It happens when you put other people/places/things ahead of your recovery. Relapse starts with excuses, rationalizations, justifications, self-pity, and resentments. It’s easy to get stuck on euphoric recall (remembering the good times) and forget to play the tape all the way through. Going to a meeting every day will remind you of why you quit. Meetings will keep you connected to safe, supportive people and help you stay on the right path while remaining grateful for your recovery.
It’s normal to feel overwhelmed by the holidays. Bad moments will pass. The choices you make today will impact your tomorrow. If you’re struggling or looking for advice this holiday season, Vertava Health has a toll free number with a team of professionals working 24/7 who can help.
If you or someone you know needs help, please call this confidential support line for assistance. 1-888-614-2379.