Surviving the Holidays Sober and In Recovery

by Dick on November 29, 2014 · 4 comments

in Addiction, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Alcoholism, Recovery, Relapse

holiday-drinking1

So here we are two days after Thanksgiving. Did you make it through in one piece?

For many people in recovery and who are actively drinking, this is the hardest time of the year to get through. Thanksgiving — Christmas — New Year’s. Hey, it drives “normal” people to throw punches at Walmart over big screen TVs, so we can only imagine how hard it can be for people in recovery! That said, here are some of my thoughts about getting through the holidays sober:

  • Load up on recovery meetings. Now is a great time to increase your recovery meeting attendance, whether it’s AA, SMART, or other program. I am currently going to one meeting every day and it definitely helps!
  • If you have not attended a recovery meeting yet, there’s no better time than now! In AA, we see quite a lot of newcomers coming in this time of year, so you are in good company and there are people who will welcome you with open arms and understanding.
  • Don’t be afraid to make tough, unpopular decisions. In my family, we typically go to two Thanksgiving events, one for lunch and a long drive to another for dinner. This year, I opted to skip the dinner event. I went to an all day Alkathon meeting instead to get some recovery medicine. It was the right choice for me. Don’t be afraid of saying “no.”
  • Take your own car to events so you can arrive late and leave early.
  • Have your sponsor and recovery friends on speed dial in case you need to make an emergency support phone call. 
  • Be very cognizant of the emotional toll of the holidays. I’m a big fan of the saying “prepare for the worst, hope for the best.” In recovery, we cannot underestimate the emotional toll the holidays take on us. You are not immune from the stress. Respect it.
  • Work on your spirituality. The holidays are a great time to focus on your spirituality. Isn’t that what they are all about anyways? Attend Midnight Mass. Go caroling. Spin dreidels with the children. Get comfort from being with another human being.
  • Watch out for the post holiday relapse effect. Just as dangerous as the holidays is the emotional hangover which often occurs after the holidays are over. I have personally relapsed after the holidays because I thought to myself, “I deserve a drink after getting through all that stress!” Don’t do this! Stay on the beam, keep going to meetings, working on your recovery, straight through January until you feel back on solid ground.
  • The best gift you can give your family for the holidays is staying sober! Remember this. Your recovery comes first!

For more reading, here is a great list of articles from Hazelden about staying sober through the holidays.

Good luck!

P.S. my apologies from going AWOL from this blog. The truth is that the last year has been a struggle but I never left recovery, never stopped going to meetings and working on my sobriety. I just had too many more important things to do both in my recovery and personal/professional life than write on this blog. But I would like to make the effort of getting back to blogging because it does help my recovery.

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  • Jon

    Great post, great ideas.

  • Sara

    Hi “Dick” — I am also a sober lawyer, thinking of starting my own anonymous blog. I have had a non anonymous blog for a while but it feels too confining–there’s a lot of thoughts I’d like to share where I don’t want to worry a) about breaking MY anonymity b) about breaking THEIR anonymity c) about losing my job d) about offending my friends and family (see b). Wonder what your thoughts are on this? Is it possible to be truly anonymous? Do you tell your sponsors and family that you write this?

    • Dick

      Hi Sara, a few people know I write this blog. My family does. But I don’t think they even check it. They are busy with their own lives. :) It doesn’t matter to me anymore. Perhaps you start yours anonymously, don’t tell anyone and then if you want to tell people as you go along do it. Or tell people. Whatever is most comfortable to you! The important thing is to do something to further your recover and being a lawyer, writing down thoughts, etc. is huge! That’s what we do best, right?!

  • Dick

    Hi Sara, a few people know I write this blog. My family does. But I don’t think they even check it. They are busy with their own lives. It doesn’t matter to me anymore. Perhaps you start yours anonymously, don’t tell anyone and then if you want to tell people as you go along do it. Or tell people. Whatever is most comfortable to you! The important thing is to do something to further your recover and being a lawyer, writing down thoughts, etc. is huge! That’s what we do best, right?!

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