Navigating the Holiday Season

Navigating the upcoming Holiday Season sober can be both frightening and freeing. Many of us think of the holidays as a time for family, friends, and fun.  Often that fun has included substances.  For many of us, substances have been a central part of our family traditions or we’ve used them to “deal” with being around family and getting through the season.  But being sober while participating in the holidays can bring you freedom and make it possible to build those memories you have always wished for. 

To be sober and healthy while participating in the holidays requires work and I want to offer some guidance as you prepare.

First, have a plan.  It is important to have a plan walking into each situation that you encounter over the holidays.  Know what to expect.  Ask yourself how much exposure to substances  you you can handle and how long you can stay.  Plan ahead of time how you are going to leave.  Talk this plan over with your sponsor, therapist or trusted friend.  This is a perfect time for a wing person.

Second, remember that just because you are healthier does not mean your friends and family are too.  You may want to limit your time with them and also spend time with the friends that you have made in sobriety.  Making new memories helps you feel freer and more content with the holidays than you could have ever expected.

Third, if you start to feel depressed, anxious, or feelings of shame, reach out for help.  Tell on yourself.  Talk to someone about how you feel, the thoughts in your head, and your fears. Do not be an island !

Last and most importantly HAVE FUN!  Make new memories, start new traditions, be over the top about the holidays, or take a trip to celebrate.  Often shame and trauma are associated with the holidays either because of past experiences with substance use or family of origin issues. Getting sober allows you to make a fresh start and to decide how you want your holidays to be celebrated.  Remember there is so much more to celebrate now that you are sober. 

By: Leigh Belcher, Executive Director at Nashville Recovery Center