Many people are able to enjoy the occasional drink or drug use. In fact, holiday celebrations often include alcohol. They may include marijuana and other drugs. If you struggle with addiction or substance misuse, then this time of year can be especially challenging.

After all, there are a lot of triggers during the holiday season. From wine at the Thanksgiving dinner table to champagne for the New Year’s toast, there are so many risky situations at the end of the year. It helps to have a strategy in place to keep yourself safe and sober.

Avoid the Worst Triggers

You do not have to attend every holiday celebration this year. Some situations are just too triggering, especially if you are early in your sobriety. It is perfectly acceptable to skip the celebrations that will put you most at risk.

Schedule Sober Festivities

If you want to see your loved ones but don’t feel safe attending their holiday celebrations, consider scheduling your own activities. You might have a party of your own at home or another safe environment.

Alternatively, you might opt to meet up with just one or two people at a time. Schedule sober daytime activities with them. For example:

  • Go holiday shopping together.
  • Meet up for a breakfast date.
  • Visit an ice rink.
  • Attend family-friendly holiday events in your area.

Your loved ones might be used to activities that include alcohol and drugs. However, that doesn’t mean they won’t enjoy these other options if you suggest them.

Bring a Sober Friend

If there are events that you want to attend, bring a sober friend with you. This will help you resist peer pressure and the urge to imbibe. Moreover, with their permission, your friend can be a reason to excuse yourself early. Furthermore, leaving with them gives you a chance to debrief the experience.

Plan Sober Activities at Holiday Gatherings

If you are sitting around with everyone who is drinking at a party, then your sobriety is at risk. However, if you find things to keep yourself busy, then you may find can still enjoy these gatherings. Make a list of things that you can do during celebrations, especially lengthy family gatherings. You may want to try the following:

  • Chopping vegetables and other meal prep activities in the kitchen
  • Chopping firewood and other help outdoors
  • Playing an instrument or leading a sing-a-long
  • Playing board games or tossing a ball around
  • Spending time with children at the party

Plan Pat Responses

Unfortunately, some loved ones may feel uncomfortable with your sobriety. They may feel as though it makes their own alcohol or drug use look bad. Therefore, they may try to sabotage your efforts.

When they say, “come on, just one won’t hurt,” having simple, pat responses will help you avoid getting sucked in. You can simply say, “No thanks, I don’t drink anymore.”

Repeat that often enough and they will eventually stop bothering you. Don’t engage in a debate about it or feel as though you have to defend your sobriety.

Practice Self-Care All Season Long

The biggest triggers are usually not the events themselves. Sure, those can be challenging, if you’re unprepared you may definitely struggle. However, you’ll find that there are things you can do daily to help bolster your efforts to stay sober. Therefore, it is critical to practice these vital self-care habits all season long:

  • Eat well, avoiding caffeine and sugar
  • Get enough exercise every single day
  • Get enough quality sleep
  • Reduce your workload and other manageable stressors
  • Try to get fresh air and enjoy activities out in nature
  • Schedule downtime for quiet activities and relaxation
  • Practice meditation, mindfulness, prayer, or creativity rituals
  • Attend meetings or see a therapist regularly

Remember too, that therapy can be a critical support system amid the pressures, obligations, and expectations of the holidays. Experienced counsel will encourage you to identify triggers, strategize cooperatively, and work through tough moments in a safe place. Together, you and your therapist can ensure that holiday celebrations are a successful bridge to a new year of continued sobriety and fulfilled goals. I’m here to help. Please consider making an appointment today.

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