The holidays are supposed to be about joy and peace and love and a host of other uplifting attributes, but for many people, they’re often primarily about stress. This can be doubly true for those working through drug or alcohol addiction in recovery, which is already a stressful situation in and of itself. Combined with the various stressors of the holiday season, it can be even worse. But celebrating the holidays is often an important way to reconnect with loved ones and find a new way forward during recovery, just with some changes and alterations to allow for your new lifestyle in sobriety.
It's all about reclaiming the holidays by creating new traditions in recovery.
There’s certainly nothing wrong with some of the old traditions: carving the turkey, hanging the mistletoe, sharing gifts and singing carols. These are invaluable aspects of the holidays for many families and returning to these traditions in the wake of treatment and recovery is an excellent way to reinsert yourself into the family dynamics you may have dropped out of due to addiction and substance abuse.
On the other hand, there are probably some traditions that are best left behind for the former addict in recovery.
Many of those will involve alcohol, which can be prevalent during the holidays. Flutes of champagne proliferate at holiday parties, the egg nog gets spiked, toasts are made left and right. For those who struggle with alcohol abuse, the holidays can be a veritable minefield, where one may be able to go almost the entire holiday season without ever lacking for a drink in hand. Even the fruitcake may have alcohol soaked in.
This isn’t to say the recovering addict has to skip every holiday invitation, just to be cautious. Skip the punch bowl, just in case. Make sure you toast with something less alcoholic than those egg nog cups. Maybe stick to hot cocoa or (soft) apple cider.
Other traditions may have to be skipped for some in recovery, for various reasons. What seems like an innocent holiday game may be a trigger for the former addict. Each recovering patient will have to play it by ear a bit during the holiday season.
But the holidays are meant to be about celebrating, not dreading relapse through each and every get-together.
So it’s vital for the recovering addict to work on creating new traditions as well. If all those holiday parties are taxing, try and do something more active. Go caroling with friends, attend a holiday play at church, go to the movies on Thanksgiving or Christmas Day or add something physical to the mix, like sledding or attending some sort of holiday marathon run. Find something you can commit to and make an ongoing holiday feat for you and loved ones that doesn’t risk relapse through constant exposure to drugs or alcohol otherwise festive colors.
With help from a good rehab clinic, such as Good Landing Recovery, you can start building those new traditions for your holiday celebrations. They can give you the foundation on which to build not only new holiday traditions, but for a better future as you leave substance abuse and addiction behind.
Don’t let the holidays turn into another trap that will lure you back into the throes of addiction. Leave behind the stress of old, destructive traditions and forge new traditions that will make your holidays brighter and your future a greater one.