#8. Avoid your personal relapse triggers to the best of your ability.
If you know Thanksgiving dinner is going to be triggering because your family will be guzzling wine and fighting loudly, limit the time you spend there. Go for the meal and take off. If you know meeting up with friends at a local dive bar after Black Friday shopping isn’t the best idea, skip out on it. Some triggers might be unavoidable; if this is the case, be sure you have a meeting lined up afterwards, or make a phone call in preparation. Practice honing your relapse prevention tools before the holidays (for example, playing the tape through, reaching out, or engaging in 15 minutes of mindfulness meditation).
#9. Make sure you have several sober supports on speed dial.
People are usually busier than normal over Thanksgiving and the remainder of the holiday season, but you will undoubtedly find a few people who are willing to answer your call no matter what time of the day or night. If you are going to a particularly stressful event, like a work party or a family dinner, be sure a couple of your sober support know your whereabouts and will be available to take a call if need be. for help and processing your emotions over the phone (or simply venting) can mean the difference between relapse and continued sobriety.
#10. As far as family goes, know your limits.
Maybe your family is functional and super supportive of your recovery, and spending time at home over the holidays is something you look forward to. Maybe your family is harshly dysfunctional and you are counting down the hours until your drunk uncle makes a scene at the dinner table. If you feel obligated to spend time with your loved ones but you know you can only handle their insanity in small doses, make an excuse to leave early. Remember to prioritize your sobriety and your mental and emotional health, and try to avoid biting off more than you can chew.
Getting Sober Over the Holidays
If you have been struggling with a substance use disorder of any severity and you have been considering reaching out for help, you might be tempted to wait until the holiday season is over. You might think, “My family will miss me if I’m in rehab over the holidays, I can’t do that to them.” Or, “I’ll just wait until after New Years, my resolution this year will be to get clean and sober.” In reality, the best gift you can give your family is your sobriety and your safety. Rather than putting your loved ones through the wringer for yet another year, seek professional help as soon as possible. Addiction is a progressive medical condition, meaning related symptoms continue to worsen in severity the longer they are left untreated. There is a good chance that if you attempt to make it through the holiday season before reaching out for help, the consequences of your addiction will only get worse. Yes, your loved ones will miss you, but they will be comforted knowing you are laying a solid foundation for lasting sobriety, so future holiday seasons are nothing but happy, joyous and stress-free.