Holiday Spirits: Alcohol, Recovery, and the Holidays

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The holiday season is fast approaching, a time of year for festivities and celebrations. Along with the holidays comes a …

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The holiday season is fast approaching, a time of year for festivities and celebrations. Along with the holidays comes a significant rise in alcohol consumption. With so many alcohol-fueled celebrations, sobriety during the holidays may be challenging, especially for those in recovery. Even people who don’t normally consume alcohol are more likely to drink past their limits during this time of year. From Thanksgiving to New Year’s and every holiday in between, it’s crucial to prepare yourself ahead of time to maintain sobriety during the holidays. Head into the holiday season with a plan to ensure relapse prevention for the holidays. Increased isolation along with the usual holiday stressors can tempt you to turn back to alcohol and other substances. Take some of the following steps to control your triggers and ensure relapse prevention for the holidays!

Substance Abuse and the Holidays

Drinking during the holidays is commonplace and often expected. Some of the top drinking days of the year are coming up in the next few months. Research shows that rates of both casual alcohol use and binge drinking skyrocket during the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. There are glasses of wine with Thanksgiving dinner, cocktails at holiday parties, flutes of champagne on New Year’s. It doesn’t matter whether you’re with family members or friends or coworkers; everyone seems to have a drink in their hand. Unfortunately, increased alcohol consumption during the holidays has led to deadly results in the past. The National Safety Council (NSC) revealed that people in the United States are more likely to drink and drive on holidays like New Year’s. And 42% of traffic fatalities during the New Year’s period from 2007 to 2011 resulted from driving under the influence. Alcohol abuse affects everyone whether they’re consuming the drinks or not. It’s no surprise holidays in recovery can be difficult. With such alarming numbers, even people who don’t struggle with alcohol abuse could benefit from being aware.

Holiday Triggers and Substance Abuse

Holiday triggers and substance abuse are connected as there can be several triggers during the holiday season including dealing difficult family members, making it through a particularly boozy event, and fending off seasonal loneliness. There are many reasons that taking a drink may sound like a good idea. The more prepared you are to handle any potential triggers and ensure relapse prevention for the holidays, the better.

Difficult or Strained Family Relations

Holidays tend to be a time that you gather with both your immediate and extended family. Many people travel during the season to connect with their relatives. This time of year also amplifies any difficult or strained family relations you might have. For example, you may not be able to see your immediate family, or maybe you don’t get along well with one of your grandparents. Whatever your specific situation, strained family relationships can make the holidays a hard time. Counter this trigger by connecting with friends or family members you do get along with. There are plenty of people you can reach out to for support during the holidays.

Alcohol-Fueled Gatherings

During the holidays, there are likely to be gatherings where alcohol is served. Some people in recovery feel fine around alcohol, but plenty of others prefer not to be around it. Navigating a gathering where people are drinking heavily will feel challenging for many. If you’re attending a gathering where you know alcohol will be a part of the celebration, prepare yourself ahead of time.

Isolation and Loneliness

Loneliness is a huge trigger for most people in recovery. Even for those who prefer alone time to large groups of people, too much alone time isn’t a good thing either. Loneliness is at an all-time high with the increase in isolation this year. Recognize the high potential for feeling lonely as you head into the holiday season and stay as connected with friends and family as possible.

Mental Illness

Mental illness is another year-round trigger that the holidays often amplify. Some people experience seasonal mental health troubles such as seasonal affective disorder. If you have an existing mental illness or know you’re prone to seasonal depression, alert those closest to you. Managing your mental illness during the holidays is crucial to keep your symptoms from getting out of hand.

Protecting Your Recovery During the Holidays

Holidays in recovery don’t have to be as daunting as they seem. There are steps you can take to keep your recovery in check throughout the season. If you don’t have some ideas in mind to get through these next few months, the following tips will help you find ways to enjoy the holiday season sober.

Host a Small Holiday Gathering

Hosting a small holiday gathering with some family or friends and asking them to leave any alcoholic beverages at home is a good way to maintain sobriety during the holidays. You could even hold a gathering of friends in recovery to ensure everyone’s on the same sober page!

Have Your Favorite Drinks On-Hand

If you must attend an event where alcohol will be flowing freely, bring your own drinks with you. Having a drink in your hand will keep people from asking you what you’d like to drink. It also limits your temptation to seek something out when you already brought something you enjoy with you.

Connect with Others in Recovery

During the holiday season, make sure to connect with others in recovery to help ensure you maintain sobriety during the holidays. Don’t try to get through the holiday season on your own. You and your friends can help each other get through recovery during the holidays by holding each other accountable throughout the season.

Staying Sober This Holiday Season

Remember – you don’t have to deal with recovery during the holidays alone. You can always ask for additional help if you need it. Seeking alcohol or drug addiction treatment during the holidays is the best gift you can offer yourself and your family. Clearview provides specialized solutions to those battling addiction and mental illness. From residential treatment to outpatient programs, we offer internationally recognized treatment to anyone who needs help. If you or a loved one is looking for substance abuse treatment or help during the holidays, reach out to us today.

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