Getting through the Holidays Sober

Christmas and New Year’s Eve is right around the corner. It’s often a time focused on friends and family, celebration and reflection. While many are excited about this time of year, there is a demographic of people who may not be looking forward to this time of year so much. People in early recovery from drug addiction and alcoholism often find it hard to enjoy the Christmas season. To the laymen it would seem that being around family and celebration would be a great thing but to those early on in recovery it can cause tremendous anxiety. 

When people initially enter recovery their relationship with their family is usually extremely damaged. Even if someone in recovery is doing well for months in a row, there is still very high tension and fear on both sides. So when it comes to the time of year when families get together from all around the country, anxiety hits many in recovery. Things that cause anxiety include:

  • Seeing family
  • Being away from family
  • Triggers that can cause cravings
  • Financial stress
  • Feeling inadequate
  • Feeling unwanted
  • Being pressured into doing something you don’t want to do

The list could be continued a lot more but you get the idea. Holidays can be very hard for many from all different types of avenues. So what can you do? Fortunately, there is a lot you can do to prepare. 

Have A Plan

No matter where you may be this Christmas season, you don’t want to just wing it. You never know what during the day can set you off and put you into a funk. Having a plan includes:

  • Knowing where to go for a meeting by you
  • Having people you can call at any time necessary
  • Having the right attitude
  • Have an escape plan on the day

As far as meetings, there are many places for both NA and AA that hold marathon meetings. That means that there will be a place the runs meetings for 24 hours straight and sometimes more on the day of a holiday like Christmas or New Years Eve. This means if it’s midnight and you are feeling really uncomfortable, you have a place to go that can make you feel more comfortable. I have gone to many of these meetings in my life and there is always a special energy about those meetings. 

Shift Your Attitude

It is really easy to get caught up in your head and about all the small things this time of year. I have a habit of only thinking about now and about me at times and it really can be crippling. Like is all about perception, if you are not happy about something you need to talk about someone with it and they can help you change perception. Something I was told that really shifted my perception my first Christmas sober was that not every Christmas would feel like this. 

My problem was that I was away from my family and really was sad that I was. I was 6 months sober and just assumed that I would fly home for Christmas now that I was sober, that wasn’t the case. My mom just wasn’t comfortable with it yet and she had every reason to feel that way. That didn’t keep me from being really upset though. I had my sponsor make it clear to me that what I was doing was making sacrifices during that Christmas to ensure the rest of my holiday seasons in the future would be everything I wanted them to be. He was right. 

My first sober Christmas I went to an event my treatment center had been holding and I got to share the day with people who were all in the same position as we practiced gratitude together. It was nothing extravagant, but it was a day I’ll never forget. As I was going through the day and completely accepted things as they were, I knew I was going to be okay in life as long as I stayed on the path I was on. It was a very important day for me.

This holiday season, do what you can to make it the best you can no matter your situation. If you are around family and are worried about that, go out of your way to let them know how much they mean to you and how grateful you are to have them in your life still. If you are along and stranded from family, go help somebody else. There are plenty of people having a worse holiday than you I promise. Like I said, this isn’t forever, it will get easier. The greatest gift you can give yourself this Christmas is another day sober. 


About the author:

Daniel is a writer in recovery and believes absolutely anyone can get sober provided they are ready to take action.