Your First Holiday Season in Recovery
Are you newly in recovery from a substance use disorder? Congratulations!
You have reason to be proud of what you have accomplished. But you are probably all too aware that the risk of relapse is real. And you may be particularly concerned about navigating the holidays as a newly sober individual.
That concern is reasonable. The holiday season offers plenty of challenges for a person in recovery. Maybe there are challenging family interactions (politics over Thanksgiving turkey, anyone?). Maybe all the sugary holiday treats are amping up your cravings. Maybe you are worried about the amount of alcohol that will be flowing on New Year’s Eve. Maybe you have always found this time of year challenging, and suspect that being in recovery will just add an additional layer of difficulty.
Gift Yourself a Plan
Given these challenges, it is probably a good idea to have a plan that you can stick to for navigating the holiday season while maintaining your sobriety. You could think of that plan as a series of gifts—gifts you give yourself to help ensure you start the new year sober and headed in a good direction.
Gift Number One: Give Yourself Permission to Say No
For a time that is supposed to be about gratitude, peace, and love, the holidays sure are hectic. And the mounting demands—come to this party, attend my kid’s concert, join us for an all-day bake-athon—can really cause problems for a person in recovery. So it is essential that you give yourself the gift of saying no to some—or even all—of the invitations and demands that come your way. By politely opting out of activities that are going to add to your stress while draining your energy, you protect your sobriety.
Gift Number Two: Give Yourself Space for Simplicity
Does the thought of setting up a Christmas tree raise your blood pressure? Would you rather have some really good burgers than a big turkey dinner on Thanksgiving? Would you prefer not to participate in the cookie exchange, the office Secret Santa shenanigans, or the neighborhood caroling adventure because you don’t want to bake, shop, or sing? Choosing to keep things simple is your prerogative and a great way to give your mental health—and by extension, your sobriety—a boost.
Gift Number Three: Give Yourself a Set of New Traditions
Sometimes we feel obligated to stick with family traditions for no other reason than that we have been participating in them for a long time. But if your family traditions don’t serve your sobriety well, it is time to let them go and to replace them with new approaches to the holidays. For example, maybe the big family get-together is simply too chaotic and stressful. If that’s the case, reframing a holiday as a celebration with a smaller group—maybe just your immediate family or two or three close friends—can be a great way to ensure your sobriety is not at risk. You may get a little pushback from folks who truly love tradition—but if they truly love you, they will understand that you need to make a change.
Gift Number Four: Give Yourself a Break
It is pretty easy to feel as though you are doing the holidays all wrong. After all, there are whole industries devoted to beating us over the head with an idealized vision of this time of year. But here’s the thing: If you come out the other side of the holiday season with your sobriety intact, you have done the holidays perfectly. Don’t let anyone tell you—and don’t tell yourself—otherwise.
The First Gift You Should Give Yourself Is Sobriety
If you are struggling with a substance use disorder, you probably do not feel like celebrating much of anything. But at French Creek Recovery Center, we can help you give yourself a gift you truly need: your renewed sobriety—and the resources, strategies, and support necessary to maintain it over time.
We are wholly devoted to employing our expertise, experience, and compassion to create a personalized treatment plan that addresses your specific needs—including any co-occurring mental health disorders. We will see you through medically supervised detoxification and a robust rehabilitation program that includes both individual and group therapy. And our commitment to a continuum of care ensures that you can start your recovery journey with confidence knowing that we are here to support you when the going gets tough.
Sobriety truly is the gift that keeps on giving—not just during the holidays, but all year long.