Addiction isn’t something where you can just wake up and say, “Okay, today I am no longer an addict.” For those of us who are struggling, or have ones in our lives that are struggling, we only wish this could be true.
But the sad reality of addiction is that it will always be a part of us. The most important thing, though, is how we fight it, overcome it, and keep ourselves from falling back into old, self-destructive habits.
The holidays is a time of reconnection, of family, of friendship, of happiness, and of celebration. But for recovering addicts, it can also be a time of extreme stress. There is the pressure of being reunited with loved ones, of living up to expectations, or simply being surrounded by temptation.
1. Give yourself permission to be selfish.
“If you start your day by doing what helps you feel centered (journaling, working-out, a spiritual practice) you are more likely to bring that energy into the rest of your day.”
It’s okay to take the time you need to be alone, to separate yourself, or to say no to a certain function. When it comes to recovery, sometimes you have to put yourself first.
2. Limit the amount of family or social activities you have each day.
“It’s not selfish to do what you need to in order to be the best while you are with your family. Spending too much time with them can sometimes generate escalating emotions or desires to use.”
Though family and friend time can be fun, sometimes situations are tempting and can distract you from recovery in a negative way. Find a happy medium and talk to your loved ones so they understand you might need to pull back at times, and that this doesn’t have to do with them, but with what you need.
3. Stay in touch with your sponsor.
“For anyone who has cravings, it is a huge help to have an accountability partner during the holiday season.”
Your sponsor is there for you, unconditionally. Don’t be afraid to check in with them, or update them at the end of the day. This does not, and will not ever make you weak; in fact, this is surrounding yourself with positive support, which makes you strong.
4. Establish boundaries before you even arrive.
“Families are our greatest allies and also seem to be the people that can get under our skin the most. Therefore, consider playing it safe and communicating ahead of time just how much time you have to be with them during your gatherings.”
There’s nothing wrong with being upfront and honest. There’s nothing wrong with keeping your distance when presented with a situation that gives you the urge to use. You know yourself best. And in the end, it’s much better to be able to show up at family functions with a smile on your face than be distant because you are uncomfortable.
5. Try to arrange activities that don’t involve drinking or other temptations.
“Be the leader in your family on what fun can look like outside of partying and food.”
Whether or not you struggle with an alcohol addiction, being around a substance in a highly emotional setting can be detrimental. Communicate with family and friends about where you are in your recovery and what you need, and see if you can encourage your loved ones to support you in something that is fun, but won’t hinder your progress.
In the end, communication is key. Be open and honest. Don’t be afraid to speak up. And don’t lose faith in yourself. You are a work in progress, but you are strong. And despite where you are, you can still enjoy this holiday season with those you love.