6 Tips To Help You Stay Clean And Sober Over Labor Day Weekend

For many, this Labor Day weekend will include some type of gathering or celebration with family and friends.  But for those recovering from addiction, weekends like this can be a time of worry, stress, fear, and triggers that can lead to relapse.

If this is your first holiday experience, sober, it can be an overwhelming one. In active addiction you may have said and done things that not all family members have forgotten, or forgiven. Seeing them for the first time might bring up feelings of guilt, shame, and anxiety. Remember although these feelings are uncomfortable, they will pass.

You’re a changed person, but your friends and family, are still the same. With a little time sober, it’s easy to recognize unhealthy behaviours in other people. You may have a family member or two, who drinks too much. If you find yourself taking their inventory, stop. Use the tools you’ve been given. Remember, although you’re powerless over their behavior, you’re not powerless, over your own. I know it’s tempting to want to save people, but learn how to walk first, before you try and help others.

Getting and staying clean and sober requires accountability, commitment and awareness – while maintaining a structured lifestyle.

Below are 6 tips that will help you stay clean and sober over this holiday weekend.

Avoid high risk situations. Know your triggers. Stay away from your old using friends. Recognize certain family members may set you off. Have a backup plan. Talk with your sponsor or recovery coach, before you get there. Commit to checking in with your support on a daily basis. If you’re travelling out of town, check out the meetings in your area and go to them.

Surround yourself with like-minded people. Bring a buddy with you. Families are less likely to recreate unhealthy dynamics, with a stranger in the house. If you can’t find someone to go with you, phone a friend, or go to a meeting. Having someone that you can honestly tell your thoughts and feelings to, will greatly relieve any stress you might feel.

Take a time out. Go for a walk, and clear your head. Remind yourself of all the reasons you quit using. Focus on the scenery around you. Get up early and watch the sunrise. Feeling good first thing in the morning will bring a smile to your face.

Help out the host. Make yourself useful. Do the dishes, sweep the floor, and notice things that need to be done. In past gatherings you were either absent or too busy using or thinking of ways to use, to be helpful. Now that you’re sober, here’s your chance to make those amends. Don’t tell people you’ve changed. Show them!

Hang out at the kids table. Hanging out at the kids table protects you from seeing and smelling the alcohol being consumed, at the grown-up table.  The children will love you, but more than that, it’s a great way to engage in play and feel like a kid again.

Play the tape ALL the way through. Being in a celebratory atmosphere, it’s easy to forget how bad your addiction really was. You might think having a glass of wine isn’t such a bad thing; after all. But don’t kid yourself. No matter what your DOC, having a glass of alcohol is a really bad idea. Once you’ve broken your sobriety it’s easier to do it again and again. It won’t be long until you’re right back where you left off and it will get worse, from there. Cravings are normal. They pass in a few minutes. Personally, I find drinking a glass of water helps.

Relapse doesn’t just happen. It’s a gradual build up of unvoiced resentments and self-pity. If you find you’re feeling resentful, chances are, you’ve taken the easier softer way by avoiding an uncomfortable conversation. Or maybe you said yes, when you really meant, no. Either way, nothing is worth using over. Find the courage to be honest about the way you feel, and if that doesn’t work, you can always leave.

Remember: Labor Day was designed as a day of well-deserved acknowledgment for the contributions that American workers have made to our country. It’s also a chance to put everything you’ve ever learned about staying clean and sober, into practice. No matter what you’re experiencing, say thank you. It wasn’t long ago that you were feeling ashamed and hopeless. Rather than indulging in self-pity, celebrate in gratitude.

Have a safe and sober holiday. Happy Labor Day to you and your family!