The holidays are joyous time of year, but they can also produce anxiety—especially for people in early recovery. If you’re newly sober, the season may present a host of high-risk situations—from holidays parties where other guests are drinking heavily to family gatherings with relatives who cause you stress. The amount of stimulation may feel overwhelming, and the key is to prevent your brain from reacting to those stimuli in a way that produces cravings. The best way to stop your mind from going there is to set up points of accountability for yourself. Here are four tips to help you steer clear of your cravings zone:
- Volunteer to be the designated driver. If you’re going to a holiday party, tell your friends, family members, or colleagues that you’ll give them a ride home. Knowing that people are depending on you can keep your mind from going to the place where cravings begin.
- Don’t show up alone. Other people at the party might not know that you’re in recovery, so bring a friend who understands your situation. That person can watch out for you and hold you accountable.
- Touch base with your recovery community. After the party, go to a meeting, go out with a sober friend, or call someone in your support group. Taking these steps can help you reinforce your commitment to sobriety.
- If you can’t manage tips 1 through 3, skip the shindig this year. If you don’t have a buddy who can join you—or a meeting to go to afterward—it’s probably not safe for you to go to the event at this early stage of your recovery. If it’s just too hard to put together these supports on your own, set up an appointment with an outpatient counselor who can work with you to develop the tools you need.
When it comes to avoiding triggers over the next few weeks, it’s all about prevention. Get your support team in place, so when it’s time for that company party or your friend’s New Year’s bash, you’ll be well prepared. The most effective way to alleviate worries about relapse is to plan ahead.
VP & Clinical Director
Phoenix Houses of Florida
Blog Editor’s Note: For more tips on how to navigate the holidays, click here.
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