The idea of staying sober, much less serene during the holidays, may be foreign to you if you’re a person new to recovery. Many people in America have trouble with the holiday season. Some people feel left out because they have roots that have nothing to do with the commercial holiday season. Others had less-than-ideal childhoods that bring painful memories around this time of years. Some people have feelings of guilt or shame or worry that they have harmed their families and aren’t worthy to celebrate.

If you’re stressed and unhappy this time of year, you’re not the only one who has trouble with the holiday season. Even non-addicted people feel a large amount of stress during the holiday months, and it’s perfectly reasonable to do so. Holidays, while fun, also bring up a lot of memories and put us in touch with people we don’t usually see. They can bring up a lot of feelings, some good and some bad.

As a clean and sober person, you now have to learn to cope with your issues when the holiday season comes up.

Dealing with Drinking or Drug Use

If people invite you to a party and they will be using your drug of choice, the best choice is to simply NOT GO. You have no reason to be at a party where you’re miserable and uncomfortable. Being around people who are using your substance will only normalize it and make you feel left out.

If there is drinking at a party, be prepared to say no and have an answer that makes saying no FEEL OK. You don’t have to tell everyone you encounter about your recovery, but it’s perfectly fine to tell people that you don’t drink. If a party includes a lot of drinking or any drug use, it’s better to skip it.

Turning invitations down may make you feel like you’re missing out, but if you genuinely want to see people who would be at these occasions, make plans that are more intimate. Go out to dinner or see a move together. There are plenty of holiday-oriented activities that don’t involve drugs.

Coping with Feelings and Triggers

How can you deal with triggers that don’t involve drugs use? The answer is simple: be prepared for them.

Are there people around that sometimes make you feel bad? Are there going to be family members that you have a complicated history with?

Prepare to have answers that will help you avoid negative interactions and conflicts. One simple answer when dealing with family is, “I’m not really ready to talk about this here and now. Can you text me and we can set aside another time?”

Plan to go to a meeting before and after your holiday event. Stay in contact with your sponsor or a sober friend every few hours to let them know you’re okay.

If you’re having a miserable time, you don’t have to stick around. It’s okay to leave a party early.

No matter what time you leave the party, plan to call or text your sponsor both during and afterwards. Check in regularly, and have a plan to get to a 12-step meeting, if possible, after you leave the party.

Getting Help If You’re Struggling With Addiction

This time of year can be hard when you’re in active addiction, too. If you or somebody you know is struggling with alcohol or drugs, you’re not alone. There is help available for anyone who needs it. You deserve a chance to reclaim your life! Learn more by calling us at 1-877-228-2401.