Clean and Sober Holiday Recovery Guide

The holiday season can be a great time to reconnect with family and friends. But the holidays can also be a stressful time for some people. This is especially true for recovering addicts, alcoholics and their families during the early days of sobriety. The office Christmas parties and family gatherings can present unique challenges for people navigating the stresses of early recovery and sobriety.

So, I’m offering a Clean and Sober Holiday Recovery guide to help recovering addicts, alcoholics and the people who love them keep on track, minimize stress and enjoy the holidays. Here are eleven tips to help you enjoy the season in recovery:

Self-Care:
For this Holiday season, give yourself the gift of self-care. Go only where you want to go. Eat only what you want to eat. Leave other people's expectations behind and do what works for you. In the busyness of the Season, don't forget to do the things you normally do to take care of yourself.
 
Planning:
Sit down with your recovering family member and talk about what can be done to help them feel more comfortable, what challenges they foresee and what sorts of things may trigger cravings.
 
Relax:
Hovering around your loved one to keep them from drinking/using, or constantly checking to see if they're 'okay' just adds more stress.
 
Reasonable Expectations:
Some people may be happy to see the person in recovery, others - not so much.
 
Emergency Action Plan:
If the person starts to relapse, confront and take action - call person's sponsor, take them to a meeting. If s/he is out on a pass from rehab, bring him/her back to the rehab facility. Don't panic - it's a slip, not the end of the world. Be gentle and loving.
 
Have a Recovery Kit that Includes:

  • Phone contacts, including sponsor and backup contacts.
  • Reading material - Big Book, Affirmations/Meditations,
  • Meeting schedule.

Book-ending:
Arrange to call someone before and after you go into a challenging situation.
 
Arrive Early, Leave Early:
Get there early before the party revs up - most drinking and using become more prevalent as the party wears on. Don't worry that your early departure may offend someone - this is about taking care of yourself.
 
Bring Your Own Beverages:
This gives you more control of what you consume and cuts down the possibility that someone might spike your drink as a joke.
 
Have an Escape Plan:
If there's a lot of drinking/using and people are pressuring you to have 'just one,' or there is some family situation that makes you feel tense, or you feel uncomfortable and triggered to drink or use - get out, leave. Go to a meeting or someplace safe.
 
Support the Escape Plan:
If you're at gathering and the addict/alcoholic wants to leave, support that decision. If you drove that person to the event, be willing to leave immediately if they need to. Don’t make them wait while you check in with your favorite uncle.