The holidays are a wonderful opportunity to get together and catch up with family and…
How to Avoid Alcohol Relapse During the Holidays
For a recovering alcoholic, relapse is always on the mind. Addiction recovery is an ongoing journey, and although an alcohol relapse doesn’t erase all of the positive progress you’ve made, it is certainly an unpleasant bump in the road.
And perhaps no time of year will test you quite as much as the holidays. From late November to early January, social gatherings abound. Of course, they almost always involve alcoholic drinks.
You’ll have to be prepared to exercise good self-control, to not reach for a glass, to not cave to peer pressure and to recognize when it is time to leave.
To keep an alcoholism relapse at bay during the holidays, follow these tips:
- Lean on your support network as often as you need to. Go to a few extra AA meetings, check in regularly with your sponsor and don’t hesitate to ask for advice or support from a trusted friend.
- Develop healthy ways to deal with stress. The holidays can be a stressful time of the year, despite the festive mood. Maybe your family always gets on your nerves after a few hours or you struggle to juggle the extra social commitments this time of year. Recognize your stress triggers, whatever they may be, and plan ahead to know how to deal with them in a way that does not involve alcohol.
- Pre-plan your exit strategy. In order to avoid an alcohol relapse, you need to know how to say no. Come up with a few firm lines that you can use when Uncle Bob is trying to get you to have a beer or your co-worker is insisting you taste an exotic cocktail. You don’t need to reveal that you are a recovering alcoholic if you don’t want to. If someone won’t take a hint, say something like, “Even a little sip could react poorly with some medicine I have to take.” People generally back off if they get the impression that a drink is dangerous to your health. And for someone trying to stay away from an alcoholism relapse, it really is!
- Recognize when it is best for you to leave. Sometimes being around a lot of alcohol is too much temptation. When you feel your willpower beginning to slip even just a little bit, you need to leave. Even if you have to leave suddenly and risk appearing rude, get away from the bar area and call your sponsor.
- Attend parties with a sober friend. Parties are much more fun when you can enjoy them with another sober person, especially if everyone around you is drunk. Plus, your friend can help keep you accountable. Your friend can help you leave when necessary and can even step in if someone is continually nagging you to take a drink.
Now that you are in recovery, you can enjoy the holidays without being in a fog. With just a bit of forethought, you can also increase the likelihood of avoiding an alcoholic relapse this time of year. Enjoy the time with your friends and family, and if in doubt, always do what is best for you and your health!