Let’s face it: Staying sober through all of the holidays and celebrations during the year can sometimes be difficult. In fact, a Fourth of July barbecue, office Christmas party or other holiday festivities can cause excess stress and anxiety that may lead to a drug addiction relapse.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports between 40 and 60 percent of drug addiction patients will suffer a relapse. Meanwhile, various stressors may make it difficult for a drug addiction patient to stay sober during a holiday or celebration, resulting in long-lasting health issues.
For drug addiction patients, it is important to plan ahead for holidays and special events. By doing so, you can improve your chances of remaining calm, cool and collected throughout.
Now, let’s take a closer look at some of the biggest holidays, and how you can stay sober during the festivities.
If you had your heart broken, Valentine’s Day may bring up painful memories of love lost. While friends and family members celebrate love on Valentine’s Day, you may be tempted to isolate yourself and dive headfirst into alcohol, drugs and other harmful substances to overcome the pain of spending Valentine’s Day alone.
As Valentine’s Day approaches, emotional, physical and even financial stressors tend to rise. These stressors are frequently connected with expectations about the way that things “should” be. But if you set realistic expectations for Valentine’s Day, you can lower your stress levels and improve your chances of maintaining a positive attitude.
For example, dining out with your single friends on Valentine’s Day may help you avoid the stress and anxiety commonly associated with loneliness. You and your friends together can commemorate Valentine’s Day by showing love for one another, which is something that may benefit all parties involved.
St. Patrick’s Day
St. Patrick’s Day serves as a “drinking-centric” holiday. If your friends host St. Patrick’s Day parties, you may experience overwhelming peer pressure to consume alcohol.
Fortunately, there’s a simple process that you can use to overcome peer pressure at St. Patrick’s Day parties:
- If friends ask you to consume alcohol, respond with this simple, declarative statement: “I am not drinking tonight.”
- Next, change the subject and ask about them. This answers your friends’ questions and gives them the opportunity to talk about their favorite subject: themselves!
Also, if you need extra help to combat peer pressure, don’t hesitate to reach out to your sober support network. Bring a sober buddy to a St. Patrick’s Day function. Or, you can always “bookend” your party by calling your sponsor before you go and after you leave.
Fourth of July
Fourth of July celebrations give you the chance to enjoy tasty barbeque, watch spectacular fireworks displays and spend time with family members and friends. At the same time, these celebrations may feature beer, wine and other alcoholic beverages that can put your sobriety at risk.
Attending a drug addiction support group meeting before your Fourth of July celebration is ideal. Support group meetings are available in many cities and towns at multiple times throughout the day, and these gatherings can provide you with the guidance that you need to maintain your sobriety.
In addition, you can show up early for a Fourth of July celebration, meet with family members and friends and leave early. This will enable you to fulfill your social obligations and avoid the temptation to consume alcoholic beverages as the celebration—and the peer pressure associated with it—grow.
For many people, Christmas can be the best—or worst—time of year. Christmas enables you to celebrate the holiday season with family members and friends that you might struggle to see at other times during the year. Conversely, Christmas can cause unresolved feelings and resentments to surface.
If a Christmas celebration gets out of control, it is important to remember that the only person’s behavior that you can control is your own. Therefore, you should try to keep things “light and polite” at Christmas celebrations. If conflicts surface, this simple acknowledgement of the obvious can help you diffuse a heated situation:
“We all have issues, none of which we can resolve right now. For today, I am focusing on the positive and enjoying our time together. Perhaps we can make time in the new year to talk through [the issue that was brought up].”
New Year’s offers the perfect opportunity to forget about past mistakes and look forward to the future. However, a New Year’s celebration may feature a champagne toast that puts your plans for a sober new year in danger.
You can still participate in a New Year’s toast by substituting champagne for club soda with lime or grape juice. This will enable you to toast to a bright future without the risk of sacrificing your sobriety.
Maintaining your sobriety can be an ongoing challenge, one that requires you to work hard and remain focused on immediate and long-term goals. To stay sober, you’ll need to take care of yourself day after day as well.
Meditation may prove to be exceedingly valuable for those who want to maintain long-term sobriety. This practice will enable you to reduce anxiety and stress consistently.
One of the best stress-relieving activities is slow, diaphragmatic breathing in and out through the nose. This type of “mindful” breathing can last for as little as 45 seconds and resets the nervous system, lowers the heart rate and blood pressure and restores a sense of centeredness and calm.
Physical activity also is an essential part of self-care. Engaging in physical exercise triggers the release of soothing chemicals like dopamine and serotonin in the brain to help you feel relaxed and confident.
Lastly, your support group network likely will play a key role in your sobriety. Ask group members for the phone numbers of those who are willing to take a support call. You can even make a commitment to call one or more individuals in your support group network daily. Being accountable to others is a great motivator.
When it comes to sobriety, it is important to stay the course. The path to continuous sobriety is filled with hurdles and roadblocks, particularly during holidays and celebrations. If you understand how to manage challenges, you can get maintain your sobriety throughout any holiday celebration the year throws at you.