Persons in recovery from addictive disorders such as drug or alcohol addiction, gambling addiction, internet/gaming addictions, as well as those recovering from the effects of a relationship with an addicted individual, tend to be especially vulnerable to emotional upsets during the holiday season beginning with Thanksgiving, and continuing through Christmas, Hannukah, and the New Year observances. These emotionally trying times can lead to relapse into active addiction, if not prepared for. Here are some ideas that may be helpful:
1) A holiday need have only the emotional impact that you allow it to have. In other words, the individual has a lot of control over how he/she thinks about the holiday and the resulting emotions. Begin thinking about the particular day, for example, New Years Eve, as just another 24 hours of recovery during which you need to stay abstinent, sober, or emotionally balanced.
2) The recovery tool that I believe to be very helpful here is living one day at a time or just for today. There is no need to give a day that hasn't yet arrived any control over your thoughts or actions. You can, as I said in Item 1), think of upcoming holiday events as just another 24 hour segment that you do not drink, use, gamble, or fret.
3) In regard to attending events where there may be alcohol or other drugs or emotionally stressful situations, remember that you always have the choice to not go to the event. In early recovery (six months to a year), it may be advisable to put distance between you and the first drink drug, or other addictive behavior, and not attend the event.
4) If you choose to attend an event that may be a trigger for your addiction, prepare yourself emotionally, remind yourself that there is no valid excuse to pick up a drink or drug or engage in any other relapse behavior, give yourself permission to leave at any time that you begin to feel your recovery is at risk, and have your own transport or an individual willing to transport you at any time.
5) Increase your recovery supports such as 12 Step meetings attendance, communication with recovery sponsors (mentors), hanging out with recovering individuals and those supportive of your recovery, recovery coaching, and therapy, and rededicate yourself to other recovery tools such as prayer and meditation, church or other religious institution.
6) Remember that regardless of any emotion (loneliness and alienation are big ones), happening, or behavior by others, you do not have to take a drink, drug, or engage in any addictive behavior.
These are only a few recovery tips for the holidays. As always, I invite comments from others. Jan Edward Williams, www.alcoholdrugsos.com, 12/02/2013.