Preparing for a Sober Holiday

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person pouring lemonade to boy during family dinner outdoors

December brings plenty of opportunity for festivities, with the myriad of holidays leading up to the New Year all birthing traditions and gatherings with friends and family. Taking time to enjoy events throughout the season is a great opportunity to reconnect with others.

Holidays can also be extraordinarily stressful if you are balancing your sobriety with expectations for the holidays. Preparing for the stressors ahead of time and creating a plan to navigate the holidays with a sober mindset is crucial for focusing on your sobriety while still celebrating the holiday season.

The Stresses of the Holidays

While holidays are the source of celebration, anticipated activities can carry different connotations after you embark on the journey of sobriety. Not only can addictive substances be a common pastime for holiday festivities, but the reunion of family and friends can also bring an array of different stressors.

The presence of past destructive traditions can cause unnecessary urges or triggers to reengage with these substances. Having family and friends around who have not made the sober decision for themselves or have not internalized the importance of your sobriety can create difficult feelings that can trigger the urge to use.

Gathering with family and friends who do not understand or accept your sobriety can lead to very dangerous situations. Their presence can entice you to use again under falsified guises like “Just one won’t hurt” or other temptations of the like. However, an unwillingness to change traditions can create an incredibly high-risk situation that can threaten your recovery.

It is important to create a plan for the holidays ahead of time. This can include identifying how you intend to celebrate and knowing which individuals can help you transform these holidays from a stressful time to a time of safety.

Determining Roles for Supports

Supports play an integral role in sobriety at all recovery phases – from the first step in deciding to pursue a sober lifestyle to the continued development of sober goals and identity. However, during the holidays supports can be even more instrumental to your success.

Therefore, having roles for supports already determined can be paramount. By ensuring that you and your supports are on the same page regarding concerns, strategies, or expectations, they can be ready to implement supportive strategies during the holiday festivities.

Some supports may be aware that you are attending a holiday celebration and can agree to keep their phones with them or keep their evening free if a call needs to be made or an escape plan enacted. Others may attend celebrations alongside you to be a voice of comfort and safety. Supports can also help you stay within a certain itinerary when it comes to celebrating the holidays.

Keeping a concrete plan of expectations is a great benefit. However, compromising these itineraries by going to new places, staying out later than anticipated, or any other last-minute alterations to the outlined plan can be an unnecessary risk that may not be conducive to your continued recovery.

Creating an Escape Plan

Escape plans are another degree of safety that can help you structure your expectations. Not only can it be easier to enjoy the holidays if you are comfortable knowing that people are there to support you, but escape plans are also instrumental in prioritizing sobriety over all else. They are a necessity for navigating the complicated world of recovery from active addiction.

Having supports by their phones and ready to remove an individual from a risky situation is a testament to your priorities and continued focus on maintaining an active change in ideas and attitudes. Communicating and determining expectations allow supports to be ready to quickly mobilize and act if celebrations become stressful or dangerous.

Hosting the Party Yourself

Hosting a sober party can be the safest way to conduct the holidays. Hosting a party at home ensures that many out of control factors are eliminated, you are close to a sober support resource, and have your own safe space to retreat to. This option also makes escape from high-risk scenarios easier, while your supports are physically present and aiding in this sense of safety.

This approach also allows you to edit the guest list to those you know will be understanding, supportive, and accepting of a sober party for the holidays. There will be an understanding that drugs or alcohol will not be present and all are willing to explore new ways of celebrating.

Lastly, this approach also allows you to plan the activities for the event. Your hobbies and interests may have changed drastically from what they once were in active addiction. Introducing new traditions, hobbies, and activities can help further differentiate your present, sober self from past decisions and priorities, showcasing the power of transformation due to your commitment to recovery.

Celebrating the holidays in sobriety can be a huge change, and adjusting to the new traditions, risks, and benefits of the holidays can take some preparation. At Avalon Malibu, we understand the difficulties presented by this time of year and are prepared to help you tackle the holiday season while embracing a  plethora of new, fun, and sober-focused traditions to further build on your sober lifestyle. Located in Malibu, California, we are ready to meet you at any phase of your recovery, whether you are just looking to begin your sober journey with detox or looking to continue to build on your established sober skills in an outpatient program. Our residential treatment and partial hospitalization programs are ready to help you tend to your unique needs and goals. The holidays are a time of celebration and community, and we are prepared to help you navigate this time safely. For more information, call us today at (844) 857-5992.

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