Managing Sobriety Over the Holidays

Holiday Madness

Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Advent, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s Eve are just a few of the holidays celebrated in the US during the two-month period from October 31st to December 31st. All of them are laden with expectations – our own, our family’s, and whatever the cultural norms are for any given holiday. Maintaining your sobriety during the holiday season is a challenge to put it mildly.

Maintaining sobriety during the holidays is a victory, especially if this season is triggering for you. Staying sober and taking care of yourself is the ultimate act of rebellion against everything that caused you to seek comfort in the substance with which you had an unhealthy relationship. You can maintain your progress in managing the illness that almost won, but you have to have a plan to do so.

Achievement Level Maintained

Having a plan in place, and maybe even plans A, B, and C available, may be the most effective way to manage your sobriety during this potentially frenetic season. Let’s look at some ways that you can care for yourself:

  • If you know an event will be especially triggering, skip it. A headache, strained muscle, or an unexpected work deadline will allow you to avoid a dreaded event or family member.
  • If the substance that is your Achilles heel will be prevalent at an event, you can choose not to go or to take a support person with you.
  • Make sure your support system is firmly in place. A sponsor, therapist, trusted friend or confidant are examples of people who are all on your side, rooting for you to stay sober.
  • Practice extra self-care. Eat well, exercise, meditate, or journal more frequently than normal.
  • Create joyful experiences for yourself. Choose a movie to watch every night of the season, get a new book in which you can immerse yourself, listen to your favorite or a new musical artist, take a walk and enjoy the holiday decorations in your neighborhood.
  • Set boundaries. Create a scenario in your head around relationships or interactions you find stressful. Script your responses to words or events that are likely to trigger you.
  • Make an exit plan. If you have to be in a situation that has the potential to be difficult, make a plan to leave it. For example, you can arrange to send a text to a friend or sponsor. When they receive it, they can call and express an immediate need, giving you a reason to leave the difficult situation.

Most importantly, if you have an underlying mental health condition, maintaining your treatment plan is imperative. Many people in recovery have coexisting mental health conditions, including:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • ADHD
  • Bipolar disorder

Maintaining your medication protocol and seeing your mental health clinician as scheduled are two critical elements of maintaining your sobriety over the holidays.

Support During the Holidays and Beyond

Meisel NP Psychiatry is located in the Park Slope area of Brooklyn, NY. We also provide support and treatment to those living in other areas of New York city, New York state, New Jersey, and Connecticut. We provide diagnosis and evaluation, therapy, and medication management for people of all ages and we provide care for the LBGTQIA+ community in a safe space. Contact us at 740-777-6184 or [email protected] so we can help you manage your sobriety and maintain your achievement level.

Disclaimer: The information contained here was not written by a medical doctor and is intended for informational purposes only. This is not a substitute for medical advice.

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