Holidays can bring up triggers for addicts and alcoholics, especially those new in recovery. Being around family if you’re really healthy or have long-term recovery can also be challenging. Why? Because it’s often the case that an addict isn’t the only one in the family with our particular DNA, and also there’s an amount of dysfunctional settings of which we came from.
So, how to navigate the waters in the high celebratory season? Give yourself permission to not attend the obligatory dinner, or attend for a short time and have a plan B with sober friends. There are 12- Step meetings, usually round the clock during holidays because we know it’s a time for heightened emotions and behaviors.
Take responsibility for your own actions. If you’re ready to go into a rehab, please don’t wait until January 1st and have a “last hurrah.” Know your limitations- if you can’t be around Uncle Joe for more than 20 minutes, then don’t. Take care of yourself. Be honest. Ask yourself why you feel obligated to stay when the rest of the family is getting hammered. Don’t get roped in. A lot of times families play out the same myth at every holiday. We may laugh later on about the 15th fight over the turkey on Christmas Night, when in reality it was truly uncomfortable and later we went home and tied one on.
Be of service- the best thing to stabilize oneself is to help others. Feed the homeless, volunteer, help a friend. It also puts us with others and takes us out of isolation so we don’t feel lonely, but are not forced or feel obligated to drink and party around unhealthy people, especially if they are family.
You don’t have to avoid the Holidays if they bring up negative feeling and thoughts. You can change your actions and recreate a new you during this time to help in your recovery from addiction.