Published in Renew Everyday, November 14th, 2016. View the Article Here
Holiday celebrations are all about coming together with the expectation that we will enjoy spending time with our loved ones. From the anticipation of Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve, festivities surround us. Sounds like fun, right? Except maybe you are in recovery from addiction or you have just relapsed after 10 years. Perhaps you think you have an addiction or you recently stopped drinking or using because your life is out of control. Maybe you are thinking you may not make it through the holidays if you don’t get help now. If these scenarios are familiar, the holidays are guaranteed to produce anxiety.
Even if you are not in recovery, the holidays can rock your world. Just bringing families together can create stress. In addition to searching for the right gifts for loved ones, grocery shopping, social engagements, cooking, traveling and hosting additional houseguests, those of us in recovery need to have a solid plan to stay strong and avoid a relapse.
Although the holidays can be awesome, they can also be a recipe for disaster for someone in recovery. For example, let’s say you decide to celebrate New Year’s Eve with just a sip of champagne. After all, it is New Year’s Eve! One drink leads to three or four more, and after the celebration, you drive everyone home. There is an accident. You are arrested for DUI, and your brother’s child ends up in the hospital with a broken foot. Years ago after my sister’s wedding, a drunk driver crashed head-on into my aunt’s car, and she spent the night in the hospital along with both of my grandparents. In a split second, your entire life can change.
It is important to think ahead and have a plan in place and enough recovery support to prevent such a tragic thing from happening to you. With or without recovery, it is important to have a backup plan in life. With the additional stress, demands and expectations the holidays can place on us, it is important to also have a strong support system in place. Extra support is a good idea, too. We must stick to our recovery program as much as possible during these busy and potentially stressful times.
We belong to a recovery “family” in addition to our biological family. All of us in recovery are going through the holidays together, standing side by side. There is strength in numbers. Make sure you are being honest about what you are feeling or experiencing. Talk to your sponsor or your friends in recovery and express yourself in the meetings you will attend.