Holiday Sobriety is Possible
- Maintain a Strong Intent to Stay Sober.
- Avoid people, places and things that bring memories of previous drinking or drugging.
- Maintain emotional balance; mindfulness is very helpful.
- Whenever possible, limit exposure to stressful or triggering situations.
- Have fun – sober! Find happiness in your life.
Maintain a Strong Intent to Stay Sober
The pace of modern life is often frantic. Details can get lost in the hectic pace of everyday life.
To stay sober (especially during holidays) requires mindfulness of why you got sober – and why you want to stay sober. Concentrate on all the positive effects of being sober. Find the positive effects of sobriety that are emerging in your life. Over time, these positive effects will increase. Positive emotions and realization of the benefits of being sober are the rescue lifelines that will pull you forward toward a future of possibilities.
Others around you will drink alcohol during holidays and may engage in substance abuse. Remember strongly why you are sober now – and maintain the course toward your positive and sober future.
Avoid People, Places and Things that Remind of Previous Drinking or Drugging
Especially in early recovery, it is important to avoid being ‘triggered’ to re-engage in drinking or substance abuse.
The word “addiction” is derived from a Latin term for “enslaved by” or “bound to.” Anyone who has struggled to overcome an addiction — or has tried to help someone else to do so — understands why.
Neuroscience research has confirmed that memory has an active emotional element. Strong memories with an emotional charge can be triggered by people, places and things from previous substance abuse.
Memories evoked with attached strong emotions involving drinking or drugs are especially dangerous during the holidays.
Maintain Emotional Balance
Maintaining emotional balance is difficult – but possible!
Holidays are emotionally challenging and difficult for everyone! For those in recovery, holidays can be a gauntlet of one triggering episode after another.
Slow Down. Take a deep breath.
Notice physical and emotional cues. If you notice that you are hungry, angry, lonely or tired – take time to care for yourself!
If you need to excuse yourself from emotionally difficult situations – do so. This is self care! Yes, it may be uncomfortable to take a break from, or leave, a stressful situation. But a relapse will cause even more discomfort – and for far longer.
Mindfulness is an important tool in recovery – and in maintaining emotional balance and sobriety. With mindfulness training and practice, it is possible to ‘over-ride’ learned behaviors and dissolve cravings.
Whenever Possible – Limit Exposure to Stressful or Triggering Situations
According to a Harvard Medical School overview article, How Addiction Hijacks the Brain: desire (craving) initiates the addictive process, but learning sustains it.
Cravings contribute not only to addiction but to relapse after a hard-won sobriety. A person addicted to heroin may be in danger of relapse when he sees a hypodermic needle, for example; while another person might start to drink again after seeing a bottle of whiskey.
Conditioned learning helps explain why people who develop an addiction risk relapse when confronted with powerful memories and/or emotions.
Limit your exposure to stressful or triggering situations – especially in early recovery.
Have Fun – Sober!
For those in early recovery, a common experience is wondering if happiness will ever be experienced again. The emotions experienced during withdrawal and early recovery from addictive substances are very similar to emotions experienced during a divorce or close relationship break-up.
THE GOOD NEWS: The ‘low’ feelings of early recovery are temporary and will resolve.
YES: You will again feel hope, optimism, more energy and happiness.
Begin to discover what brings you happiness. Start small: in the beginning, a short walk outside in the sunshine could be happiness-producing.
Explore what brings you feelings of happiness while sober. Happiness is possible!
Take care of yourself by discovering what brings you happiness – and find ways to do more of those things.
New Start Recovery Solutions wishes you a sober and Happy Holiday Season 2017!
Happy New Year!
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