Safeguarding Your Recovery Around The Holidays

The holidays can be a difficult time if you are in recovery. Even normal drinkers get into trouble since there are so many opportunities to over-indulge.

Stay Connected To Your Meetings!

12 step programs such as AA, and Al-Anon are great at providing support since the risk of relapse is high around the holidays. Alcoholics Anonymous helps those wanting to get or stay sober, and Al-Anon gives support to the families and friends.

It's free and available in most cities. There are also online and phone meetings. Marathon meetings are available 24 hours a day during on the holiday so you can stay connected.

These meetings provide a much needed safety net during when dealing with family and the added pressure to drink is a bad combination. Throw in unpleasant memories and adjusting to the holidays sober is a huge adjustment.

Prioritize Your Recovery & Pick Wisely  

Just because you've always gone to Aunt Mary's for Thanksgiving doesn't mean you have to this year. Recovery is about choices. You may feel obligated to go to family events and try to act like nothing has changed. But everything has! 

I'm not suggesting to avoid family gatherings. It's learning how to recognize high risk situations and plan accordingly. You have to decide what events you can handle and which ones are too overwhelming. This is an important decision to bring to your Higher Power and your sponsor. Once you've made a plan, sandwich the holidays with meetings.

There will be times in your recovery when you can't go to meetings. You have to work late or you're sick. Recovery podcasts gives a quick attitude adjustment when you're starting to sink emotionally.

Check out Sobriety First and Stories of Recovery for a variety of recovery podcasts. There are several in iTunes too.

Manage Your Relapse Triggers

Knowing the situations that could trigger a relapse is important. If you have relapsed before, write out what was happening at the time they contributed to using. That way the slip serves a valuable lesson.

Knowing what your triggers are ahead of time gives you a fighting start. Here are some common triggers.

  • Being with old friends that still drink and use
  • Going to any family or social event that focuses on drinking
  • Ignoring stress and difficult feelings 
  • Hiding or pretending you are not an addict 
  • Old family hurts that aren't healed

The Power Of Sponsorship

Helping others is a vital part of recovering from addiction. It is a "we" program for a reason. Trying to work the program alone doesn't work. It's too easy to convince yourself you don't really need to attend meetings regularly or get a sponsor. 

Sponsoring is like having your own private mentor. They walk you through the 12 steps and give you individualized support. When you are the sponsor it gets you out of yourself and your problems. You'll find yourself saying things to your sponsee that YOU need to hear.

We don't sponsor because we have to - we sponsor because we need to remember the principles of honesty, humility, powerlessness and surrender. As we support a fellow, we are in turn reinforcing that recovery for ourselves. I can't tell you how many times a sponsee has called me and I feel better after that call! 

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