Time spent around loved ones, crowded family dinners, traveling, remembering past holidays, clash of personalities, traditions, and just the hectic life of maintaining normalcy while trying to make the season a pleasant experience can be a challenge for those trying to stay sober. There are a variety of situations throughout the holidays that are stressful, and for those in recovery this can be a trying time to maintain sobriety.
For those in early recovery, there is going to be a certain level of stress when seeing family and loved ones who still see and remember the addict instead of the new person that has been created through recovery. Relationships may have been damaged in the past by active addiction and what better time to repair those damaged relationships than the holidays? An important aspect while working the steps is to repair the damage that has been caused to others because of the addiction. Most of the time the people closest to the addict are the ones hurt, this must be addressed in order to move forward in a healthy direction. After months or years of using and abusing, a simple apology may not mend all the wounds that have been made, but keep in mind actions will always speak louder than words and with patience and time there is always hope.
Some may think dealing with the family drama may be the easy part, but what about when old friends want to get together, or being at holiday gatherings/parties where drugs and alcohol may be present? There are tools that those in recovery have learned while working the steps that can be applied in these types of situations. When triggers are causing obstacles for a recovering addict while trying to maintain sobriety through the holidays, there are certain things to keep in mind to sustain all temptations: Utilizing a Sponsor When triggers are present, there is no better support than sober support. Those in recovery should always have their sponsor as first phone call when dealing with these obstacles. Attend a Meeting There are NA and AA meetings available nationwide. When temptation rears it’s ugly head, the support of those in the program will be beneficial to any recovering addict. Inside the rooms, everyone is experiencing those same uncomfortable holiday situations and can be a listening ear to those early in their journey through sobriety. Leaving the Situation or Stepping Outside There is no better way to avoid a potentially harmful situation than to leave. There are many excuses to use in order to leave an event early. There is not even an excuse needed and when the situation is serious enough to where relapse is a possibility, there is not even an excuse needed. If the situation is not so threatening that leaving the event is required, then a quick breather may be all that is needed to divert emotions and regain composure. If a conversation causes triggers, moving into another room of the party may be all that is needed.
For those who are family members or loved ones of those in recovery there are a number of things that can be done in order to be helpful during this delicate time. The most important way that family members can be a productive part of the recovery process, is to maintain a positive attitude towards sobriety, and the 12 steps. Complement and express how amazing it is that the recovering addict is making the positive steps towards change. Recovery is the best gift this holiday season, for the family as a whole. Encouragement and appreciation go a long way when dealing with a recovering addict.