The holiday season is a great time to catch up on needed rest, spend time with friends and loved ones, and eat until you can’t walk for several hours. This time usually sees an increase in alcohol consumption and drug use, both as a part of the celebrations as well as a coping mechanism for people waylaid by stress and despair.
This time can be particularly harrowing for people undergoing recovery who face temptations and pressure from all sides to imbibe alcohol, use drugs, or participate in unsavory activities. Finding a way to celebrate and enjoy the holiday season without breaking sobriety or triggering a relapse can seem an unsurmountable task, but that is not so.
At Monroe Street Housing in Kokomo, Indiana, we provide a safe environment and resources for you or your loved ones to maintain sobriety after treatment. Below are some tips and sober activities to enjoy and stay sober during the holiday.
What Does Sobriety Mean?
Sobriety means a lifetime commitment to not being impaired or influenced by alcohol or drugs. Sobriety goals can be short-term or long-term, depending on the person’s reasons and needs.
Sobriety is beneficial in the following ways:
- Improved physical health. Sobriety can reduce the risk of organ damage, infections, injuries, and chronic diseases caused by the effects of alcohol and drug abuse, and it can assist your efforts at weight management, improve the quality of sleep you get each night, and boost your energy levels.
- Improved mental health. Being sober can greatly improve your mood, cognitive functions, memory, and general behavior. It can also help you better cope with life’s stresses, anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. Sobriety goes a long way toward increasing your self-esteem, confidence, motivation, and sense of self-worth.
- Improved social and personal life. Staying sober can improve the way you relate with your family, friends, and community. It can also greatly ease the process of hunting for and keeping a job, pursuing education or hobbies, and fulfilling your daily responsibilities and goals.
Statistics On Being Sober
Substance abuse makes maintaining sobriety a challenge for many people. Recent statistics show that:
- Approximately 10% of American adults admit that they are in recovery from an alcohol or drug abuse problem.
- Around 33% of recovering addicts in their first year will maintain sobriety and remain clean.
- Beyond the 5-year mark, 85% of recovering addicts stay clean.
- Substance use disorders (SUD) suffer a relapse rate of 40 to 60%.
- Alcohol and drug addiction are prominent public health problems that affect not only the addict but also their family and community.
Holidays That Challenge Sobriety
Many holidays can make it hard to maintain sobriety from alcohol, especially if they involve drinking as part of the tradition or celebration. Some examples of such holidays are.
- New Year’s Eve. Heralding in the new year with some good champagne or other alcoholic drinks is a tradition as old as glass. Literally. Both started around 2000 BC.
- Patrick’s Day. This one is unsurprising. St. Patrick’s Day and alcohol go hand-in-hand like a burger patty and a good slice of American cheese. Many people celebrate Irish heritage and culture by drinking green beer or other Irish drinks.
- Fourth of July. Also known as ‘Murica Day, people celebrate American independence and patriotism by having barbecues, picnics, or parties with beers and other alcoholic beverages.
- Halloween. Adult Halloween parties have risen exponentially in popularity, with the focus, rather than being on candy, on drinking and participating in other forms of debauchery.
- Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a time when people gather with friends and family to share a huge meal that is usually preceded, accompanied by, and chased with various forms of alcohol. Family dynamic also plays a big role in drinking during Thanksgiving, with many people seeing alcohol as the only means of surviving and coping with encounters with their families.
- Christmas. Modern-day Christmas is about exchanging gifts with loved ones and toasting three days of not being hounded at work by your boss. This holiday is also often a day of nostalgia, sadness, or guilt, which can lead to emotional drinking.
This short list paints a picture that most holidays incorporate drinking in some shape or form. But what’s the reason?
Why is it Staying Sober Over the Holidays Such a Struggle?
Staying sober over the holidays can be hard for many reasons. Some of them are.
- Feelings of stress, loneliness, or depression by the expectations, obligations, or memories of the season.
- Increased temptations and peer pressure to drink or use drugs at social events or family gatherings so you can cope or just fit in.
- Trouble keeping up with your routine, self-care, or support network that helps you stay sober.
- Facing the aftermath of the pandemic has added more anxiety, isolation, and uncertainty to the holiday season, which can push you to break your sobriety.
- Having to deal with the TSA.
How to Stay Sober During the Holidays
Here, now, is the crux. Temptations and pressure to drink or use substances are buffeting you from all sides, but there has to be a way through, right? Of course, there is. Maintaining your sobriety through the holiday season is rewarding and possible. Feel free to employ the following strategies to stay sober and sane:
- Plan. Take a closer look at situations or people that pose a risk to your sobriety and recovery and how you can avoid or address them. Make sure you have a sober buddy or sponsor you can call for support. Bring your non-alcoholic drinks and snacks to parties, if you feel you must attend, and always have an exit strategy in case you feel uncomfortable or become overwhelmed.
- Set boundaries. You’re allowed to decline invitations or requests that may jeopardize your recovery and you are not obligated to explain or justify your decisions to anyone. What are they going to do? Pshaw.
- Practice self-care. The holidays are usually stressful and exhausting, and it can become easy to self-neglect and forget about taking care of Number 1. Get enough sleep, eat well, exercise, meditate, relax, and do things that spark joy in your life.
- Seek support. You are not a ronin, recovery is not a solo journey. Reach out to people who understand and motivate you, such as friends, family, counselors, or recovery groups, and share your feelings, challenges, and achievements with them.
- Celebrate your sobriety. Make it your personal goal to be grateful and proud of yourself for staying sober during the holidays. Acknowledge your progress and achievements, no matter how big or small, and reward yourself with something meaningful or fun.
What You Can Do in Case of a Relapse
A relapse is when a person falls back into substance use after a sustained period of abstinence. Relapsing is a common and expected part of the recovery process, but don’t take it lightly. Below are some steps to follow in case a relapse occurs:
- Seek medical help. If you are experiencing withdrawal symptoms, or have overdosed, call 911 or run to your nearest emergency room. Medication or other treatment may be required to stabilize your condition.
- Reach out for support. Reach out to your sponsor, counselor, therapist, or recovery group and inform them of what has transpired. They are there for you and can offer you guidance, encouragement, and accountability.
- Be honest with yourself. Do not disown, undervalue, or justify your relapse. Recognize that you made a mistake and that you must take action to prevent it from happening again. Do not project blame for your relapse, but rather focus on what you can learn from it and how you can improve your coping strategies.
- Make a plan. Pinpoint the triggers, conditions, or emotions that triggered your relapse and challenge yourself to avoid or manage them going forward. Examine your recovery goals and strategies and make necessary changes. Seek professional help if it becomes necessary for you to adjust your medication or treatment plan.
- Celebrate your progress. Relapsing does not erase all the hard work and achievements you made during your recovery treatment. Identify your strengths and soundness and reward yourself for getting back on track.
Receive the Help and Support Needed at Monroe Street Housing
Millions of Americans have successfully maintained their sobriety during the holiday season by following their set plans to manage and avoid triggers. Monroe Street Housing is a sober living facility that provides extensive recovery resources to the community.
Contact us today for treatment and help to overcome addiction and reclaim your health and fulfillment. Our admissions team is ready to walk you through the enrollment process, and our other professional staff are available to discuss your treatment options with you per your preferences.