(See Part 1 of our sober holidays tips.) For people in recovery, the holidays can be tough. Seeing family, visiting old friends, having unfulfilled expectations, maybe missing a loved one you lost this year -- it can all lead to tension and sadness, as well as thoughts of using. Plus, temptation seems to be everywhere, given all the holiday parties you might be expected to attend. Don't let those fleeting feelings sneak up on you! Start planning now for how you'll get through the holidays happy and sober.
Sober Holidays Tip #16 It’s okay to tell people you are now in recovery. There is a lot less stigma these days to being in recovery. Nearly everyone knows someone who is in recovery and very open about it. It’s your choice whether or not you want to tell people. One good reason for being open about it: If your friends don’t know you’ve given up alcohol, they may lead you into temptation without intending to. Another reason: When you let it be known that you don’t drink, you offer support and encouragement to others who are thinking about sobriety but are afraid of taking the leap. You just might be the catalyst that gets someone else started on recovery.
Sober Holidays Tip #17 Make a plan for staying sober at parties. Decide in advance that there’s no way in the world that you will drink or use drugs at the event. Ask for help from your Higher Power, because you may need it. Know and rehearse exactly what you will say if someone asks, “Would you like a drink?” or “Want to do a line in the bathroom?”
Sober Holidays Tip #18 Stay sober at the party: Serve yourself. If you can, bring your own water bottle or glass full of soda, so you don’t even have to go near the bar. If you don’t bring your own, when you arrive head straight to the liquid refreshments and help yourself to a safe option such as sparking water. Keep your beverage in your hand for the rest of your time at the party (refill it as needed). That way you won’t have to keep turning down offers of something to drink. People won’t be asking you, and unknowingly tempting you. If you set your drink down while you’re dancing or when you step into the bathroom, get a new one when you return. Don’t take a chance on anyone having accidentally switched drinks or good-naturedly topped yours off, or even worse, slipped a drug such as Rohypnol (the “drug rape” drug) into it. Sober
Holidays Tip #19 Stay sober at the party: Don’t go it alone. Think of yourself as swimming in deep swift waters, and take an AA buddy or a hired sober companion. Or take someone at the party into your confidence (the host, a good friend, even a waiter); candor will serve you better than pride, embarrassment, or guilt. Tell them that you can’t drink, and enlist them as bodyguard. It will make the event easier for you, and will keep you from winding up in a relapse. If you can't take someone with you in person, arrange to text with someone throughout the evening. Or arrange to call your sponsor every hour on the hour. Build in some accountability, however you can.
Sober Holidays Tip #20 Stay sober at the party: Curb resentment. You’re almost sure to run into someone who’ll say, “Do you mind if I have a drink?” Your automatic answer will most likely be “Oh, no, I don’t mind.” The truth is you probably do resent it. You’re as good as the other guy. If he can drink, why can’t you? If you feel resentment building, make your excuses and find your sober buddy, slip out to a meeting, or head to the hallway and call or text your sponsor. Whip out your phone or tablet for a quick check-in with a recovery app, or a mobile meeting or recovery forum app. Or head home and go to an online meeting (they can be lifesavers in the middle of the night). See Find A Meeting.
Sober Holidays Tip #21 Stay sober at the party: Be ready to leave. Keep your car keys or taxi fare in your pocket. Should drugs appear, or if you suddenly feel overwhelmed by temptation, leave immediately. Do not try to test yourself.
Sober Holidays Tip #22 Stay sober at the party: Take inventory the next day. The day after you go to an event with alcohol you may well fall into self-pity mode. “Why can’t I have fun like those other people?” Don’t let those feelings and ideas simmer. If they do, they can push you right over the edge into a relapse. Plug right back into your recovery program. Call or text your sponsor, double up on meetings, and read your literature. Be honest about any feelings that arose from being around the drinking and using scene.
Sober Holidays Tip #23 Try not to stress about holiday gifts and expenses. Try not to worry too much about giving the “right” gifts, or having enough money to buy gifts. For the people who matter, just your love (and your sobriety) will be enough. Really. Try not to get stressed out about spending lots of money on travel and other holiday expenses. Set a budget and stick to it.
Sober Holidays Tips #24 Be ready to return to your regular routine. Be prepared for a return to work or school. Schedule time to decompress after travel. Try not to feel let down by a return to the normal old “routine.” Remember that you have another brand new year to have a wonderful, sober life.
[Thanks to Bill Borchert for the following tips!]
Sober Holidays Tip #25 Stay in touch with sober friends. Make sure your phone is filled with the numbers of AA members and call them frequently to stay in touch.
Sober Holiday Tip #26 Find an Alkathon. Many AA groups and clubhouses host Alkathons where meetings are held around the clock, starting on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve, and run throughout the day. Drop by.
Sober Holidays Tip #27 Find a meeting! Okay, we've said it before. But it bears repeating. Because it works. Find a meeting. If holiday gatherings with family or friends become drinking parties, head for the nearest meeting. No one will miss you and the social drinkers will understand. See Find A Meeting.
Sober Holiday Tip #28 Give thanks. Stop by a church or some quiet area like the seashore, a lake or a park, and spend a few minutes thanking your Higher Power for your sobriety and the new way of life you have found.
Sober Holidays Tip #29 Wish others Happy Holidays. Even if you’re a bit shy (and it may take an effort), smile and wish those around you happy and healthy holidays. It will lift your own spirits and create a warm glow inside.
Sober Holidays Tip #30 Reach out to newcomers. Take a newcomer to lunch or dinner and then to a meeting. If you’re a newcomer, take a newer newcomer. If you can’t afford lunch or dinner, how about coffee and a doughnut?
Sober Holidays Tip #31 Remember your last drink. If the thought of a drink occurs, first think it through. Remember your last drink. Then call your sponsor or AA friend.
Sober Holidays Tip #32 Don't get hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. Don’t get hungry, angry, lonely or tired, no matter how long you’ve been sober. Alcoholism is cunning, baffling and powerful. Again, constant vigilance can bring great joy and happiness to your sober holiday season.
Sober Holidays Tip #33 Recite the Serenity Prayer. Often. Make sure you have copies of the Serenity Prayer in your shirt pocket, your purse, your pants pocket, your coat pocket, and your phone, and pasted on the mirrors in your bathroom and bedroom. Pause for a moment and read it to yourself. Repeat.
GOT IDEAS? We'd love to hear your tips as well.
Please add your thoughts in the comments below or on one of our social media pages. Or send your tips to us at TheRecoveryBook@gmail.com (we're happy to credit you or post them anonymously).