The holidays can be trying times for people struggling with drug or alcohol abuse as well as those already in recovery. It seems like everywhere you look, people are indulging in “holiday cheer” and all of it can be a serious trigger for relapse. How can you decide if you should enter rehab to get started on the road to recovery or to protect your sobriety during the holiday season?
If getting (or staying) sober is something you’re thinking about, rehab for the holidays may sound harsh. You might be wondering, how can I leave my family during this time of year? Let’s face it: taking some time for yourself to be in rehab is never going to be convenient, and it will never seem like a good time. There will always be an excuse to put it off. This year, give yourself the gift of sobriety. Try entering a rehab for the holidays and start your recovery with a festive and strong foundation.
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All in the Family
If one or more members of your family are active alcoholics or drug users, holiday celebrations may simply be more than you should take on at this time. While you can’t stop your family members from drinking or drugging, you can choose to value a healthy lifestyle and a positive future. You may end up inspiring others in your family to get sober too.
For many people, the first few months are the hardest to stay sober. If you are new to sobriety and haven’t yet completed a 90 in 90, you may want to think about entering rehab for the holidays. Getting some strong coping skills learned and practiced without the intense stress and pressure of the holiday season may help you stay sober in the long run.
Practice Makes Perfect
Entering a rehab for the holidays makes perfect sense for folks new to sobriety. In the rehab setting, you have a great opportunity to learn and practice celebrating in a healthy and fun way without using alcohol or drugs. You’ll be around other people new to this way of celebrating, and you will have the guidance and support of the staff to help you craft new traditions and healthy holiday celebrations. It isn’t easy to go against the norm and do things differently, so learning in a safe and supportive environment is a great way to stack the deck in your favor for positive holiday experiences in the future.
All the Feels
Whether or now you’re in recovery, you know how emotional the season can get. While drinking or using drugs, you probably didn’t deal with a lot of emotional issues – with your spouse, your family and even just inside yourself. The holidays, with all the emphasis on family and love, can be a tremendous trigger for guilt, shame, sadness and feelings of inadequacy. While these feelings are normal throughout recovery, during the holidays it’s easy to become flooded and overwhelmed.
A History of Relapses
You’ve done the holiday 90 in 90, and you’ve kept your sponsor on speed dial, but you still have a rough time with holidays. If you have relapsed during the holiday season before, how better to make this year different than to protect your recovery and prioritize it above all else? Let it be different this year: check into a rehab for the holidays instead of trying to manage on your own.
One good reason to consider checking into a rehab for the holidays is if your physical safety is threatened by contact with relatives you may see over the holidays. If you have experienced incest or been sexually abused by a family member or friend you are likely to see, this may be an intense trigger for relapse. At some point in your recovery you may be ready to face this person or people, but if you are not there yet and cannot prevent contact, entering rehab for the holidays may be a wise choice. Similarly, if you have experienced physical or emotional abuse and cannot prevent contact with your abuser over the holidays, entering rehab may be helpful.
When Good Ideas Go Bad
Are there times when entering rehab for the holidays is a bad idea? Talk with your sponsor, your partner or a sober friend about your motivations for wanting to enter rehab. Are you avoiding consequences you really need to face? Are you dodging an arrest or running away from someone to whom you owe money? Are you feeling ashamed about your financial status and your ability to buy gifts for your family? Avoiding emotions or consequences of your drinking by entering rehab won’t work. All those problems and consequences will follow you – into and back out of rehab. If your drinking has created a mess, then step by step, one day at a time, you’ll need to clean up that mess.