The holidays are one of the most difficult times of the year for those in recovery, whether in Colorado or elsewhere. Temptations can be frequent and can seem to be everywhere: parties where alcohol may be served, family members who can trigger memories of previous trauma or be “sandpaper people” who still cause stress today, and expectations that can make you feel guilty for not being happy and joyful.
Holiday Enjoyment is Possible
You can enjoy the holidays sober by observing a few simple–but not necessarily easy–principles. The first thing you can do to make the holidays more enjoyable is to keep things in perspective. If you make the holidays all-important, you will give them too much power over you and it may lead to poor decisions. Yes, it is true that you only live once (YOLO), but do not use that fact to justify doing things that you will later regret, like relapsing.
Making a plan is the next step to enjoy holidays in recovery. Unexpected situations can lead to impulse decisions, so it is important to think through your responses to possible scenarios like being offered alcohol or drugs at a party or discovering that a gathering you thought would be safe actually includes substances you are trying to avoid.
Your plans may need to include a ride if you need to leave an event suddenly or an escape plan if things get too hard to handle. You can also plan what you will tell people who ask why you are suddenly abstaining from using substances you once used regularly so that you can express yourself in a way that you will be comfortable with later.
Bringing a sober friend with you may provide much-needed support, and if you are feeling particularly weak or vulnerable, you may want to skip events at that time, especially if they are likely to include triggers, stressors, or substances from which you need to stay away.
Having the Tools You Need to Succeed
Remember back when you were first in treatment and the urge to use was strong all the time? Chances are, you learned some useful tools to control your urges and to cope with triggers and stressors. The holidays are a perfect time to review these tools so you are ready in case holiday situations trigger the same kind of strong urges again.
If you do come up against unusually strong urges during the holidays, do not let it discourage you. This time of year is often a perfect storm for triggers and stressors that can make sobriety more difficult to maintain than at other times of the year. Just do what works to stop urges, even if it feels like going backward in your recovery.
If you do relapse over the holidays, The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake is a Colorado alcohol and drug rehab can offer treatment to help you get back on track quickly so you can move forward. Contact us for information about our inpatient and outpatient programs as well as aftercare to give you added support to continue your sobriety.