Many of us who suffer an addiction to alcohol or drugs, find holidays particularly tempting. Everywhere we turn, someone's engaging in some form of substance abuse. So, how do we enjoy the office, friends and family while staying sober? Honest, you don't need a treatment center, just some common sense and an awareness of the stage of your recovery.
This is the most important thing to understand when the holidays roll around. At the beginning of recovery, the temptation is at it's greatest, so you have to be real careful to avoid situations that are tempting. One of my mentors told me, "If you don't want to slip, stay away from slippery people." So, for the early stages, maybe the first year or more, it's probably best not to be anywhere alcohol is being served. It isn't uncommon for those beginning recovery to spend almost every day of the holiday season at a 12-step meeting. As you've gone longer without a drink and realize it isn't as much of a temptation as before, you may find you can visit the more formal and controlled events around the holidays without a problem. Use common sense and listen to those who have been around before venturing there, though. Also, it may be a good policy to visit a 12-step meeting immediately after you've been to an event where you believe there may be some drinking, like office parties and family events.
These used to go on right in the office and, in years past, have been known to get quite wild. In my white collar experience, this seems to have been replaced, somewhat, with the more formal and controlled lunch or dinner party. If you're invited to an office party, try to find out more about it. If alcohol is provided or it's BYOB, be very careful...there will be lots of people out of control and it will probably be best not to attend. If it's a more formal arrangement, like lunch or dinner with a bar available, this will be much less of a temptation, so, if you've got a couple years of sobriety you'll probably not be bothered much. With friends and neighbors it's a different story.
These are sometimes the biggest challenges to staying in recovery. That's because they're far more tolerant and accustomed to drinking with you. In fact. one of the first things a newly recovering alcoholic should do is let those who used to drink with them know this won't be happening any more. If they care more for you than the booze, they won't drink in front of you. If they don't, well, maybe they weren't your friends after all. After I quit drugs, none of my addict friends wanted to be around me any more. I now realize what a good thing that was, but at the time, it hurt me, deeply. If your friends won't refrain from drinking around you, don't be around them, even at the holidays.
This is the hardest to avoid during the holidays. Like
friends, if they care, they won't drink in front of you. Unlike friends,
it's more difficult to avoid family during the holidays. Also, since
addiction runs in families, there are usually alcoholic relatives who haven't
found the need to quit, quite yet. As if we needed another complication,
most families are dysfunctional. Alcoholic families make dysfunction an
art form. As hard as it is, if you feel your stress level going up just
thinking about another family holiday, it may be better to drop the gifts off
and be at a 12-step meeting during the festivities. I know blood is
thicker than water, but alcoholic blood is quite thin and quite volatile.
Each family is different, so, if you don't sense any problems, have a great
time. The more years of sobriety you have, the easier it is to be tolerant
of your family dynamics and maybe even overlook some outright offenses.
The Holidays can be especially hard on alcoholics. It's a time when all the emotion and dysfunction combine with heavier drinking by many around us and unusually nasty weather to make it very difficult to stay sober. Knowing this in advance, though, can help us prepare, by having 12-step and other positive activities scheduled so we're not brought down. The millions who have gone before attest to the fact that the holidays don't have to be alcohol-i-days for us.
If you want help and healing from alcoholism for you or a loved one there is someone who can do it. You can get this healing from God. He can do it. If you want His help, go to Healing From God.
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