You’ve recently completed drug and alcohol rehab, and it’s just in time to celebrate the holidays with family and friends. On the surface, this seems like a great thing and everyone is excited to see you. But, behind the excitement, fear has crept in and you wonder if you’ll be able to survive this first sober holiday.
This uncertainty is completely normal for anyone in recovery, but is especially so for someone who has just completed rehab. You may have never had the opportunity to celebrate a holiday free from drugs and alcohol, so attempting to navigate through this time on your own is not advisable. We highly recommend the best way to handle your first sober holiday is by following a few simple suggestions.
Before anything else, make sure you stick close to others in the program, as they will be your best resource. Lean on them for support. After all, that is what they are there for. Be open and honest about any reservations you have and talk freely about urges or cravings. Remember, they are not mind readers.
Coming home for the holidays can be a great experience, but it can have its challenges. Here are some tips to help navigate through your first sober Christmas.
Setting boundaries is essential to a successful recovery, a key component taught in drug and alcohol rehab. While boundaries can be established on a personal level, they are also something that can be expressed to your family and friends.
If you are not comfortable speaking about your addiction with your entire extended family, this can be known. Let your parents, children, siblings, or spouse know beforehand. “Please do not comment on my addiction or stay in rehab at dinner.”
Another example of a boundary may be, not attending a family party where alcohol or drugs may be present. It is important to remember that just because you have changed, you cannot expect everyone to. If your family still chooses to engage in drug and alcohol use, you can choose not to participate.
When you set boundaries, remember that no one is responsible for holding true to them, other than yourself. If your loved ones begin crossing lines, you can choose at any moment to leave.
Do Not Attempt To Make Amends
There is a time and place for everything. Attempting to right your wrongs at a family Christmas party is not that place.
If you have just completed rehab, you are a long way off from making an official amends to any family members or friends. This is something that should only be done under the advisement and work with a sponsor, and after other steps have been thoroughly taken first.
For the time, simply showing that you have changed and are continuing to work on yourself is enough. For most, family and friends would rather see a change then hear “I am sorry.” Actions speak louder than words.
Bring A Friend
There is nothing wrong with sticking to the “buddy system,” especially in early recovery. If you know you have to attend a family party where alcohol will be served, ask a friend to go with you. Having someone there to support you, especially if they are sober too, is never a bad idea. You’ll be surprised to find how enjoyable the night will be, when you have someone there that understands.
There is nothing like feeling stuck somewhere that you don’t want to be; or worse, where you don’t feel safe. If you are planning to attend a family party, plan to drive yourself. This will be essential if you have to enact your escape plan.
Have An Escape Plan
It is important to always plan ahead. Before going to a Christmas party, make sure you have a plan in place.
What will you do if you begin to feel the urge? What if the evening gets too intense with family members? What if someone pressures you to have “just one?”
It is important to plan for these instances, as they could come up at any moment. If you are visiting family from out of town, reserve a room at a nearby hotel or search out coffee shops close by. Even taking a short car ride to clear your head will help.
No matter the situation, it is okay to make the decision to leave. Do not feel guilty about doing so, if the situation gets dicey. You must put yourself and your recovery first.
Keep Your Phone Close By
In times of early sobriety, your phone will be your most treasured asset. And no, it is not to browse the internet or scroll through social media feeds. When a craving sets in or your feelings get the best of you, you’ll want to be able to lean on your support group.
This is no different during the holidays, and there is no shame in excusing yourself to make a phone call. If things begin to get too intense, or you just need someone to keep you grounded, you’ll be glad your phone is nearby.
Search Out Local Meetings
Whether you are attending a party in your hometown or far away, there are always plenty of 12-step meetings to turn to. You may think it will be difficult to find one on Christmas or New Year’s, but it is actually the opposite.
Firstly, AA, NA, and other 12-step groups never stop holding meetings. Secondly, many groups host around-the-clock meetings on specific holidays, such as Christmas. These are known as meeting marathons and/or alkathons. Not only are there plenty of meetings to go around, but there are usually other festivities taking place. Some groups will hold dinners and dances for members who cannot be around family during the holidays, or simply as a safe place for those in need of support.
When All Else Fails, Don’t Go
This may be easier for some than others, but it may be the best decision when newly sober. It is a decision that can only be made by you.
You must be aware of your limits, boundaries, and triggers. If you feel it will not be safe to attend the annual family Christmas party, it is okay to make the decision not to attend. Yes, this may be a difficult pill for your family to swallow, but your recovery must come first. In the end, if it is your best chance of staying sober, they will understand.
And remember, there are plenty of fellowship events taking place during the holidays that you will be able to attend instead. Or, if you’d like, host a dinner for your friends in recovery, and become the safe haven that everyone needs during this time.
Contact Clearbrook Today
With 45 years of experience in treating chemical dependency, Clearbrook Treatment Centers can provide you with an opportunity to experience a life of recovery.
If you are tired of being a slave to your addiction, and you want to see what else is out there, give us a call today. Our Admissions Specialists are available 24 hours a day to assist in all of your needs.
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