The holidays are a time to eat, drink, and be merry. But what if you’re a recovering addict? The season for cocktails, parties, and good times can be a tough one to navigate.
“The holidays are a stressful time, and many people find that using a substance is a way of coping with stress,” says Kate Rhine, a licensed clinical social worker and certified addiction counselor in Denver.
Ramped-up family time also can be emotional for many, especially those recovering from addiction, Rhine adds. For people without close family ties, loneliness may set in.
You don’t need alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to make your holiday season festive, but you do need this go-to guide to stay clean:
1. Start Each Day With a Plan to Fend Off Addiction Relapses
“An alcoholic needs to wake up each morning thinking about how to stay sober that day,” says Peter R. Martin, MD, a professor of psychiatry and pharmacology and director of the Vanderbilt Addiction Center at the Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee. “Once they have a plan, they should be fine for the rest of that day.” The key is staying focused on your goal of sobriety.
2. Evaluate Each Situation
Rank scenarios as low, medium, or high risk for you. In early recovery, spend more time in low-risk situations and avoid high-risk, Rhine says. If you’re further into recovery and will be in a situation that is medium- or high-risk, such as a party with an open bar, rely on your plan. Arrive early and duck out a bit early, she suggests. Drive yourself so that you can leave when you’re ready.
3. Bring the Party With You
Take along a food or safe drink that you enjoy. For instance, if champagne is a big temptation for you at a New Year’s soiree, bring a flavored, sparkling water to sip as the clock counts down.
Read more about ways to avoid Holiday Addiction Relapses at everydayhealth.com