How to Enjoy Your First Sober Holiday Season
The holiday season is upon us! For many people, this means joyful times spent with family, friends, and coworkers celebrating the season. For those in recovery from substance use disorder, the holiday season can be extra stressful and angst-filled – but you can make it through.
For some of us, the holidays may have been ridden with our behavior in the past. It’s definitely not fun to be or admit that we may once have been the drunken relative ruining Thanksgiving dinner by barging in late from the bar or arguing with family members about politics or what-have-you. And these scenarios are only if you were lucky enough to still have some family allowing you to be around.
So many alcoholics and drug addicts are ostracized by their families or cut off to set boundaries, and while this is likely helpful to the alcoholic/drug addict in the long run, this, of course, creates guilt, shame, and loneliness while they are deep in their substance use disorder and not living in a solution of recovery. These feelings can follow us into recovery as we attempt to restore our relationships with our loved ones, and oftentimes the holiday season is where that is first tested.
Being with Family During the Holidays
If you are new to recovery and you are spending your first sober holiday season with family – that’s awesome! Whether your relationship with your family was good or not before you got sober, take some time to pause and reflect on past holidays with your family. Were you welcome? Did your addiction cause problems in the past?
Now, look at where you are today. If you are sober and continuously working on growth in your program of recovery, be proud of and grateful for your progress. Take it easy when you are at home with family and try not to have any expectations. It may take a while for your family to fully trust you again if that trust had been broken.
If you feel guilt, shame, or anger popping up while with your family over the holidays, try to remember where you were in the past, and be grateful for what you have. It may not be perfect, it may not look like you expected, but you are alive, well, sober, and with your family.
Being Alone During the Holidays
If you are not able to spend the holidays with your family, or you haven’t been welcomed back into your family unit, that’s ok too and you can still have an enjoyable holiday season! Whether you live alone, with roommates, or in a sober living you can find plenty of activities to do with other sober people throughout the holidays.
Many recovery programs or clubs offer marathon meetings, around the clock so at worst you can always go back to back meetings and fellowship with others in recovery. You can also look to see if there are sober potlucks, parties, conventions or other activities to participate in.
If these are not options for you, look where you can be of service over the holidays. Volunteer at a shelter, a food bank, or an animal rescue. See if there are any local organizations that have holiday season-specific activities where you can volunteer (such as carol singing or visiting with the elderly at a nursing home).
If you are not going to be with family for the holidays, try to stay in gratitude for what you do have. Be grateful that you are sober and on the road to recovery. Be grateful for friends and the ability to be of service. And stay hopeful for future holidays with your family as you stay on the path to recovery.
Additional Tips and Tricks
Family or no family, staying sober through your first holiday season can be challenging, but definitely doable if you are working toward your recovery goals. Check out some of our past blogs with other tips that may help you through the holiday season: