Tips for Recovery Over the Holidays by Alice Kuhns, AMFT
Sobriety and the recovery process are challenging as is. Add holidays to the mix, and it becomes a whole new ballgame. Suddenly you are surrounded by an influx of emotional and physical triggers. If you are in recovery, especially early recovery, attending alcohol centered holiday events can stir up feelings of anxiety, sadness, anger, and isolation.
As a therapist in recovery, I have put together some tips that have helped me navigate sobriety during the holidays. Whether you practice abstinence or moderation management, remember that recovery looks different for everyone. Please take what works, and leave the rest.
Acknowledge your progress - Before engaging in anything action-oriented, validate how difficult this time of year can be. It is not an easy feat, and you should be proud of yourself for making it this far.
Create a structured support system - Designate a trusted friend, colleague, or family member, who will be at the party (or reachable by phone), that can operate as your recovery buddy. Have an open talk with them about what your triggers are, and what kind of support you need.
Attend meetings (if that is what you like!) - AA is not for everyone, but if you are needing support, there are hundreds of meetings out there. Specifically, there are marathon AA meetings during the holidays, which can last all day or night. Reach out to your local chapter for more details.
Local meetings - https://lacoaa.org/meetings.php
Have a non-alcoholic drink in hand - If you can find a mocktail, soda, or juice, having a glass in hand can help avoid strangers bugging you to have the "I don't drink" conversation.
Leave the party - Worst case scenario, there is no shame in leaving a party early to take care of yourself. If you find yourself experiencing intense cravings, head home and take the night for yourself. Grab a cup of tea, take a bath, read a book - whatever you need to make yourself feel grounded and cared for.
Connect with your “why” - This does not only apply to holidays, but consider writing a letter to yourself explaining the reasons “why” you started your recovery journey. You can reference this letter when you find yourself looking back on past use with rose colored glasses. Be honest and gentle with yourself.
If you have a loved one who is sober, and want to provide support, simply extending the offer directly and non-judgmentally can reduce that sense of isolation. Let your loved one know that you are there for them, and that they can lean on you. If you want to go the extra mile, you can accompany them to holiday parties sober as well. As always, make sure you are checking-in with yourself, and honor your own boundaries.
Alice is currently accepting clients. To learn more about her schedule and availability, call/ text/ or email her at 424-625-9921/ Alice@pacificmft.com.