With Christmas just around the corner and festivities already underway, many that are in recovery from alcoholism may feel anxious as to how they are going to achieve a sober Christmas.
Even if this isn’t your first Christmas in recovery from alcohol it is likely that some anxieties will arise.
Christmas is a time of overindulgence and excess – excess spending, excess eating and excess drinking.
The period of time leading up to the big day can often be very stressful and perhaps the thought of spending a whole day with drunken family members fills you with dread.
Step by Step Recovery understand that Christmas can be a very testing time for those that are in recovery and so have come up with some helpful do’s and don’ts to ensure you get through the festive period safe and sober. We can also offer advice and guidance on help with alcohol or drugs.
1. Don’t People Please At Christmas Parties
This is probably the most important tip of all as it covers so many situations that arise. You may find yourself being invited to works parties and christmas parties where there is likely to be copious amounts of alcohol and drinking.
Please remember that it is okay to say “NO” if you feel uncomfortable. It is okay not to go or to leave early.
Most people in recovery feel immense relief when they go to a christmas party or an event with an exit plan in place. This may mean going before you find the drunkenness to much to bare or setting yourself a limited time to stay.
2. Don’t Overstay
Don’t force yourself to stay longer at an event or gathering than you are comfortable with. If you do, there is a high chance you will only end up resentful and worst case be in danger of relapsing.
The don’t overstay rule applies to family also. If you find their behaviour intolerable as the day goes on and the alcohol flows, politely make your excuses and leave.
Most individuals once merry or drunk will give little thought to someone leaving the party early.
3. Do Reach Out To Others In Recovery
The power of being with like minded individuals who are also in recovery has proven to be invaluable in terms of being comfortable in your own skin. Others that are in recovery from alcoholism or addiction are very likely to be thinking and feeling a similar way.
If you are part of a 12 Step fellowship or another such recovery group, ensure that you stay in contact over the Christmas period and attend meetings and groups to help reinforce and enrich your recovery.
4. Do Remember There Is More To Christmas Than Alcohol
Christmas isn’t just about alcohol, it’s about the spirit of giving and family. For those that belong to a religious denomination (and even for those do not) getting involved with your local church can bring much joy.
If you do not have any family there is no need to spend christmas alone. Volunteering at your local homeless shelter or salvation army can really make christmas count. Helping others is a great gift that recovery brings and can be rewarding in so many ways.
If you are following a certain recovery programme or engage in religious or spiritual practices such as prayer and meditation, it is important to keep these practices up during the festive period. This will help you stay present in the moment and not wander into morbid reflection, which for someone in recovery can be very dangerous territory indeed.
5. Do Buy Yourself A Gift
In active alcoholism and addiction, self care and self love are two things that are lost. In recovery we encourage you to show yourself love and compassion. By treating yourself to a gift at christmas, even if its something small, you are reaffirming that you are worthy. It may be the way to a sober Christmas.
The better you feel about yourself, the less likely you are to be tempted to sabotage what you have built and gained through being sober.
6. Don’t Seek Approval
All too often people can get themselves in enormous amounts of debt over the christmas period. Spending money you cannot afford or taking out credit cards and loans to buy gifts for others is rarely a wise idea. By doing this you are setting yourself up for financial stress once the christmas period is over.
Try to keep in mind the true spirit of christmas and that it is only one day. Do not get yourself in debt or financial difficulty. It can be tempting to do so to gain the approval of those you have hurt or upset during your drinking days.
The best gift you can give children, loved ones, family and friends is your presence and sobriety.
7. Do ask for help in achieving a sober Christmas
If at any point over the christmas period you find yourself missing alcohol or thinking about taking a drink, please do ask for help and support of others. This help may come from a family member or friend that you trust, someone from a recovery group, staff at a rehab or even through calling the Alcoholics Anonymous helpline on 0800 9177 650.
There is no shame in admitting you are struggling. It is better to admit this than to risk relapse.
We hope that by taking these do’s and don’ts on board that you will be able to relax and enjoy the true meaning of christmas without jeopardising your sobriety. In recovery you have choices – always choose recovery first above all else.
Alcoholics Anonymous : https://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk
National Helpline : 0800 9177 650