During the Sober Vacation season, more people drink to excess, and often drive impaired, adding up to a dangerous season. There are more social occasions, and more stress as social and financial obligations and deadlines for shopping mount. The holiday season can seem like a minefield for those in recovery from alcohol or chemical dependence.
Those in early recovery may be most at risk for relapse, but Sober Vacation stress can trigger anxiety, depression and even relapse for many. How to survive and even thrive through it all takes a little planning. Not all coping strategies are right for everybody. Some people in recovery will need to ditch the family traditions altogether, while others can bring new traditions to supportive family settings.
Are you worried about going to a party where there is alcohol served and many guests will be drinking? Non-alcoholic beverages are always available, even if it is water
, so you can graciously accept the offer of a drink without alcohol. If alcohol has “taken the edge off” anxiety in past social situations, and you are in recovery, plan to attend the event with someone who is a good psychological support, often someone in successful recovery. If you know the event will act as a trigger, you don’t have to attend.
1. Plan Each and Every Day of Your Holiday
Plan to spend the majority of your time with friends and family who are supportive of your recovery. If you are required to be present for a social gathering where alcohol is being served, bring a fellow AA member with you. Plan fun events and outings to replace your old drinking rituals.
2. Find an “Alkathon” in Your Area
During the Christmas season, some AA groups hold a marathon of meetings called an “Alkathon.” It is a time when the members of Alcoholics Anonymous gather together to celebrate their recovery from alcohol addiction. Many AA groups have meetings on the hour every hour to share their experience, strength and hope. If you are a member of the fellowship or think that you might have a problem with alcohol, you are welcome to attend. Check the local papers for an “Alkathon” in your area.
3. Ask for Support from Your Family and Friends
Those who are truly supportive of your recovery will be happy to help you throughout the holidays. Be up front and tell them your concerns.
4. Have a List of at Least Ten People you can call if you feel the Urge to Drink
Make a list and check it twice. Carry your cell phone and your list of names at all times. The urge to drink is very powerful and can happen at any time.
5. Don’t Forget about Regular Exercise
Regular exercise is an essential component of any balanced recovery program. If you have extra time on your hands, it is a great idea to get out and exercise
. Examples include running, skating, cross country skiing, stretching, yoga, Tai Chi, Pilates or water aerobics. Instead of napping on the couch after dinner, go for a walk around the block.