12 Tips for Staying Sober During the Holiday Season

tips for staying sober, holidayRemaining sober can be especially challenging during the holidays.  Family gatherings, holiday parties, and other social occasions can be very difficult for someone who is in early recovery.  Thoughts of past holidays can bring up memories of celebratory drinking or drugs.

Although it seems hard to get used to the idea of a sober holiday season, especially if friends seem to be having a great time drinking or using drugs, completing treatment is an accomplishment that you should be proud of.

Here are some helpful and practical tips to make staying sober easier:

  1. Write yourself a letter – “How I stayed sober over the holidays:” The act of writing your ideas on paper is a very powerful to reinforce your intentions. Think about your values write down all the activities that will help you have healthy, happy and sober holiday season.
  2. Plan each and every day of your holiday season:  Plan to spend the majority of your free time with friends and family who are supportive of your recovery. Likewise, plan downtime for reflection and rejuvenation.
  3. Keep a daily gratitude list: The quickest cure to get you out of the holiday blues is by counting your blessings and being grateful for what you have every morning.
  4. Sober community support: Come to Gateway’s holiday celebrations in addition to your recovery group get-togethers to share your experience, strength and hope with others. Check out Gateway Foundation on Facebook to find schedules for recovery groups, alumni meetings and special events hosted at our treatment centers.
  5. Tell your family and friends how they can support you: Those who are truly supportive of your recovery will be happy to help you throughout the holidays.
  6. Create a contact list: Make a list of 10 people you can call. You are always welcome to call a counselor or confidant at Gateway Foundation. Carry your cell phone and list of names at all times.
  7. Don’t skimp on exercise: Regular exercise is an essential component of any balanced recovery program and will help you weather the stresses that often accompany the season.
  8. Avoid unhealthy hangouts: There is no reason to ever check out your former favorite establishments—no matter who is in town.
  9. Begin for new traditions: Start an annual bowling tournament or flag football game with fun awards and prizes. Host a cookie baking party and trade cookies with your guests. Use your imagination, be creative and have fun.
  10. Volunteer for a charitable organization: There are many people in your community who are less fortunate than you. You will be helping not only the needy but yourself!
  11. Avoid H.A.L.T. (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired):  If you are hungry, get something to eat. If you are angry, talk to somebody about it. If you are lonely, go to a meeting or call a friend. If you are tired, get a good night’s sleep.
  12. Take one day at a time and enjoy your sobriety: Stay in the moment and live one day at a time. Never mind about what happened or what could happen. Enjoy today. Live today. Celebrate your sobriety.

Take this opportunity to celebrate not only the holidays, but also your new life of sobriety, which is something really worth celebrating. If you find yourself struggling during the holiday season, please remember that you are not alone. Help is only a phone call or meeting away. 877-505-HOPE (4673).

Staying Sober This Summer

stayin sober this summer, alcohol abuse, alcoholismAt Gateway Foundation, we understand the summer months can be a challenging time for people in early recovery. Those who have struggled with alcohol abuse may encounter more drinking going on outside—from festivals and ball games to concerts and beer gardens—and come face-to- face with temptation.

Remember, it’s okay to be tempted. This is normal. When it happens, observe the craving and respond by reminding yourself of your values and goals that are far more important to you than drinking, such as being a healthy, reliable and productive individual.

If you are early in your recovery, it is an especially important time to honest with yourself, especially when it comes to accountability. If accountability is in question, situations that have the potential to trigger a relapse must be avoided.

Here are some helpful reminders to keep your recovery on the right path:

  • Stay connected. It’s important to surround yourself with supportive people who understand your new path. Attend Alumni events/meetings, 12-Step recovery meetings and talk to your sponsor often.
  • Drink plenty of water. The heat and sun is dehydrating, and thirst can intensify cravings for alcohol.
  • Embrace life. Take advantage of the great weather and explore new adventures, such as kayaking, hiking, cycling bike paths, practicing yoga in the park or joining a running club. And, you will be more likely to befriend others with healthy lifestyles along the way.
  • Skip it. If you don’t have accountability, then you should decline the invitation to a wedding or barbeque. If you do decide to go, you should either bring a sober buddy, have someone on standby that you can call, or decide to stay for a set amount of time and promptly leave as planned.
  • Be realistic. If you are confident you can refrain from using, you still should expect to be offered drinks or drugs by the people around you. Rather than be offended, you should be prepared with a polite response or to avoid an invitation for a drink altogether, holding a club soda usually works!
  • Family ties. If your family is supportive of your recovery, then you may find spending time together is more enjoyable now than ever. For those whose families enjoy drinking at celebrations—it’s okay to bow out of a barbeque or birthday party. If you’re ready to be accountable, bring a supportive friend along and limit your stay. To avoid hurting anyone’s feelings, it is polite to let your hosts know ahead of time you will be bringing a guest and leaving early.

Remember, if you ever need to talk to someone who understands what you are going through, you call your sponsor and counselor. If you are worried about relapsing, you should contact your treatment center right away. Click to contact Gateway Foundation or call our 24-Hour Helpline at 877-505-HOPE (4673).

Stay Informed About Substance Abuse and Addiction

substance abuse, drug useDon’t stay in the dark about drinking and drugs—the more you understand about the facts, the greater your understanding will be about what someone’s going through, and how he or she can overcome it.

If you’re not sure what kind of drug an individual is using, or whether one has an addiction, education will help you recognize certain behavior patterns or health issues an individual may have that are associated with different types of substances and addictions.

Determine If You Are Safe

Sometimes people can behave unpredictably when they drink or take drugs. Their moods and actions can become erratic, which at best can be embarrassing or frustrating for friends and family, but at worst can become aggressive or violent. You have the right to put your safety and the well-being of your family first.

If you’re living with a person whose substance abuse or addiction behavior puts your safety at risk, consider having a back-up plan. That plan may include arranging with family or friends to stay with them, or knowing where you can go in your community if an emergency arises.

Talking to Someone Who Is Abusing Drugs or Alcohol

Perhaps you feel upset, angry, frustrated or even ashamed about someone’s problem. Whatever you’re going through, it’s okay to feel the way you do. What’s more, it’s often worth talking to the person about your feelings –being honest may even encourage one to open up to you about underlying emotions, too. When you talk with someone about drinking and drug use, listen and respect what he or she has to say. It may also help the individual to face up to the problem. If someone shuts you down initially, it may be more difficult to get him or her to open up later. Just listen.

Substance Abuse is a Disease

It is important to realize that substance abuse is a disease. The person who is truly addicted is not able to take control of this problem without professional help. As a loved one, you cannot stop the individual’s substance abuse. Families can, however, avoid covering it up or doing things that make it easy for the person to continue the denial. Encourage your family member or friend to get the treatment needed through a professional licensed treatment provider or family physician.

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