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An addict’s Christmas survival guide – Tis the season to stay sober

Christmas can be tricky when you’re in recovery.

It is, traditionally, the season to eat, drink and be merry – and when drinking and/or taking drugs to achieve merriment are no longer on your wish list the upcoming festive times can seem very, very daunting.

Whether you are newly sober or have been for quite some time, Christmas is fraught with triggers.

Work functions, pre-Christmas get-togethers with friends and, of course, celebrations with family can be a profound test of will power.

On the other hand, if you are facing a solitary Christmas, for whatever reason, it can be just as hard to maintain a positive attitude and keep unhealthy coping mechanisms at bay.

So, to help you make it through the allegedly most wonderful time of the year, here are some simple yet important things to remember:

Choose your Christmas companions wisely

For many, Christmas is the perfect excuse to let loose. Pre-Christmas festivities can bleed into pre-New Year parties easily and before you know it there is a ‘reason’ to indulge every day for two weeks.

If you are recovering from an addiction you have the right, and the responsibility to yourself, to be picky about just whom you choose to hang out with over the holidays.

If you get the feeling that your work colleagues might pressure you, albeit without ill intent, to join in their Christmas shenanigans, it is okay to skip the office Christmas function.

It is up to you whether you choose to be upfront about your reasons to abstain – there is nothing wrong with inventing an alibi if it makes you more comfortable.

The same goes for any get together that might trigger your cravings.

It is probably not a good idea to see friends with whom you had regular sessions of alcohol and/or drug abuse in a party setting.

Remember, whatever makes this tricky time easier for you, goes.

Talk to your nearest and dearest

There are likely to be some Christmas-related social events that you really would like to be a part of; but you might be unsure of how to best breach the subject of your recovery and its related challenges.

In case of family occasions or celebrations with very good friends, honesty is the best policy.

It’s perfectly okay to share any worries you might have about the upcoming get-together and explain to your nearest and dearest that parties involving alcohol and/or drugs are challenging for you.

Holding back might just leave you emotionally unsupported in a difficult situation, so there is nothing to be gained from trying to tough it out on your own.

People who care for you can be amazingly supportive and understanding, if you give them a chance. Think of it as a kind of Christmas miracle.

If you’re celebrating solo – have a plan

Not everyone is inundated with invites to Christmas parties – many people face the holidays alone or prefer not to socialise in order not to jeopardise their recovery.

Whether you are going solo this Christmas by choice, because of geographical distance or estrangement – having a game plan can be critical to make it through the season unscathed.

Being on your own does not have to translate to sitting at home and waiting for Christmas to pass; in fact, that can trigger all kinds of negative feeling that might cause cravings for your self-medication of choice.

To avoid feeling down, keep busy. Whether you enjoy going to the movies, walking, going to the beach or spending hours in your favourite coffee shop reading the excellent novel you gave yourself for Christmas – getting out can be key to keeping your spirits up.

If you need to talk to someone but don’t feel like friends and family are going to be understanding and supportive, call your sponsor, recovery coach or one of the many Australian helplines operating around the clock (even, and especially, during the holidays).

Helplines you can call 24/7:

It’s okay to say ‘No, thank you’

Peer pressure is real.

It can be difficult to refuse alcohol and/or drugs when you’re virtually surrounded by them, which is often the case during the celebration marathon that is Christmas.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that your personal choice of remaining sober is not going to make anyone else uncomfortable, unless they have a problem themselves.

If someone claims that you are ruining their fun by not joining in, this is not someone you should be spending your festive season with.
In the immortal words of Dr. Seuss, it is a case of mind over matter: Those who matter don’t mind and those who mind don’t matter.

An opportunity for personal success

Yes, Christmas can be a trying time, but challenges also present an opportunity for personal triumph.

You have already taken them all-important step to choose to be drug and alcohol free. Celebrate it this Christmas by showing yourself just how strong you can be and invite those closest to you to share this remarkable achievement.

So remember:

  • It is okay to skip the office Christmas function
  • It is okay to avoid get-togethers with friends who drink and/or take drugs
  • It is okay to tell your family and friends about your situation
  • Get out and keep busy
  • Talk to someone
  • If you need to, call one of the 24/7 support services
  • It is okay to say no

Its not too late to be clean for Christmas

Remember, it’s not too late to get into recovery and be drug and/or alcohol free for Christmas. Give us a call on 1300 856 847 to have a no-obligation chat about our addiction treatment programs.

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