How to Celebrate New Years Eve Sober. Tips for Recovering Addicts.
The holiday season for most recovering addicts can be the hardest time of the year, especially on New Year's Eve. Holidays in the United States are quite often characterized for their excess. Excessive partying, binge drinking, even excessive spending and worrying about debts and other responsibilities can cause a great amount of stress during this time of year.
As the year comes to a close, Christmas decorations are coming down and many people in recovery may be experiencing stress about the biggest party night of the year: New Year’s Eve. For many it is a conundrum of questions: avoid parties altogether? Or risk experiencing loneliness, guilt and shame by staying home alone? While there is no clear cut answer for these questions that would be suitable for everyone in recovery, there are positive and negative aspects to both of those strategies. Each one can release a unique set of triggers, so the best thing you can do is be prepared for either scenario.
Have a Plan to Stay Sober:
If friends are asking you to go to parties for New Years Eve, you may be fearful that the champagne toast at midnight may be too much temptation for you to resist. Maybe you’ll run into an old friend who you used to get wasted with. Or you could see a past lover for the first time since your newfound sobriety. Either way parties can set you up for temptations and triggers that many in recovery programs are not ready to overcome yet.
If you have plans to stay home alone for the big night, this could be a potentially stress-inducing situation as well. Leaving yourself alone and isolated when everyone else is being social and celebrating can cause negative thoughts and emotions, which can be triggers in and of themselves. The loneliness can lead toward guilt and shame, which is no fun to experience alone. Many tend to either romanticize their past substance abuse, only remembering the good times or beat themselves up over their past mistakes, suffering alone in grief while everyone else seems to be enjoying themselves.
Again, preparation is essential so you are not caught off guard, without a plan. While many people experience major FOMO (fear of missing out) on New Year’s Eve, there are plenty of alternatives to celebrating with alcohol and drugs. Think about how good you'll feel on the first day of the new year, if you aren't in bed all day, nursing a nasty hangover. While that sounds like a positive plan, you should be mindful of your strengths and weaknesses in your recovery. It is a good idea to keep yourself away from potentially dangerous situations, so let’s explore some alternatives to celebrating the new year without alcohol or drugs.
Enjoy a night on the town.
Plan a night out with a close friend or relative that positively affects your mental stability and health. Go out to dinner, or a movie and enjoy time away from the house. These are good options because in these scenarios, drinking alcohol isn’t the primary focus of either of these activities. You could also go to an amusement park, grab a cup of coffee, or go to a fun kid’s attraction like miniature golf or a video game arcade. Many of these places don’t serve alcohol, but even if they did, you wouldn’t notice because the activities there are so much fun. Hanging out with people who understand your struggle and your desire to remain sober is key.
Enjoy a night at home.
You don’t want to isolate yourself alone on New Year’s Eve, so take the chance and invite people over to your house to play games, watch movies or even eat some really good food. Staying in with friends or family will definitely help you keep your mind off of partying on the biggest party night of the year. Just make sure you have good company to keep your night a positive one. If you do not have anyone to come over, make a plan to have someone to talk to if you need it. This could be a sponsor, friend or relative who cares about you.
Volunteer for a local charity.
If you don’t have anyone to come over or spend your evening with, this would be a great opportunity to help your community. You might even meet other like-minded people in the process. Volunteering your time can have a very positive impact not only on your community but on your mind and soul as well. There’s nothing as rewarding as helping someone who is less fortunate. If you love animals, many animal shelters accept help with people coming to walk dogs and pet cats. These activities help the animals maintain social skills while they await adoption. Spending time with pets is also going to make you feel good as well.
If you do find yourself going out with friends to a party, or any place where alcohol is served, there are some things you can do to help you get through the night sober. Bring your own drinks to the party and always have a non-alcoholic beverage in your hands. This will greatly help reduce the temptations that may come up at a social gathering. Being prepared with an exit plan is another good strategy to help keep you sober during the new year’s celebration. It is important to remember that you are responsible for your own sobriety. If triggers surface at the party or a bar, do not be afraid to simply leave.
Being honest with yourself and your needs throughout your recovery journey is essential to continue working the program. Having a plan is an essential component of any successful sobriety. Be mindful of relapse and have a relapse prevention plan in mind. Let your friends and family know when you need help. Devise a comprehensive relapse prevention strategy and do not be overcome with temptation.
Looking at your recovery during times of celebration can help you maintain your sobriety and keep you away from drugs and alcohol. If you need help throughout any step of the process, do not hesitate to call us. We are here for you 24/7.
Tips For a Recovering Addict During the Holiday Season
You’ve heard of black Friday, but what about blackout Wednesday? That’s right, the holidays are often the most inebriated times of the year for many Texans. Overindulgence is common and the holiday season presents a unique challenge for people who are recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction. As people get into the holiday spirit, they often pay little attention to how much alcohol they are consuming. Many former drug addicts are faced with temptation as they go home for the holidays. It is a time of year where you may run into an old friend whom you used to use with. Many people make the excuse that: “I’ll just use this one time, it’s a special occasion!”
With more parties occurring between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, it is no wonder overindulgence is commonplace.
While the holiday season can be fun and festive, it can also be the source of a lot of stress for many people. The stress can be attributed to financial responsibilities conflicting with the generosity of the season or the stress of dealing with family members and friends you may not have the best relationships with in the past. Many people also experience SAD, or seasonal affective disorder, which is due to the lack of sunlight and warmth with the shorter days. This has physical and psychological implications for a multitude of reasons in different types of people.
As a recovering addict, it is a difficult time of year to watch family and friends indulge in alcoholic beverages and in some cases prescription and illicit drugs. If you are in recovery, there may be a sense of guilt or embarrassment associated with your past substance abuse. You may feel that your loved ones will think of you differently, and judge you for your personal struggles. This may be the source of a lot of stress for a person in recovery around the holiday season.
As your past has likely shown you, using drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism to deal with all these sources of stress may be a familiar, easy way out. As you feel the temptation and see others indulge, (or overindulge) just know that you are your own source of strength. Perhaps you’ve just made it through a period of time in sobriety. Your own resistance to temptation will be tested and you have the power to remove yourself from difficult situations or simply say no to a friend or family member who presents you with an opportunity to use again.
There are simple, effective ways to deal with these temptations and prevent a potential relapse.
You can avoid the relapse mentality with a set of specific techniques and ideas that we hope will keep you safe and sober this holiday season.
- Avoid the “just have one” mentality. This is a slippery slope that many in recovery know they can’t handle the just have one drink, one line, or one hit without reverting to a full blown substance abuse.
- Limit the likelihood of experiencing depression or loneliness. Sometimes when surrounded by your close friends and family can make you feel the most alone. Especially for someone struggling with substance abuse. In a lot of cases the toxic relationships with family members was one of the causes of your addiction. Many people simply do not have happy memories with their families. This can be a great source of pain that is brought up around holiday time as you make plans to see them again. Perhaps your family dynamic is what led you to abuse drugs or alcohol in the first place. If this is the case you should limit your exposure to anyone who was a negative influence in your life. Tell them upon arrival that you will not be able to stay long. This way if a problem arises, you can make your exit without feeling an obligation to stay to make someone else happy.
- If you happened to have a problem with alcohol specifically, you should bring your own beverages to any party or gathering. Having a drink in your hand at all times is an easy coping mechanism to deal with the temptation to indulge in alcohol again. You shouldn’t leave it up to the host to cater to your special needs. Bring your own beverages. Maybe it could be a fancy coffee drink, or your favorite type of juice. Whatever you decide, make sure you have one in your hand at all times. This way people won’t ask to get you a drink and you wouldn’t be tempted in those passing moments.
- Don’t go it alone. Take a friend or family member with you who understands your struggle and can help enforce your limitations. Make a plan early and discuss the plan with them. If a strong temptation arises have a signal that it is time to leave.
- Offer to be the designated driver. If you think you can handle people using substances around you, this is a good way to help not only your friends, but also your community as a whole. There is a major increase in traffic accidents and DUI’s during the busy holiday season. If you can handle being around those who are drinking or possibly using drugs, offer them a safe ride. This will also give you a greater sense of purpose that may be just enough to help you resist temptations to indulge yourself.
- Sweet treats are a common pacifier to help calm cravings. Sugar triggers the chemical reward system in the brain and can help you navigate temptations during family functions and parties. Exercise is another way to boost endorphins and help you minimize cravings.
The holidays should not be an excuse to relapse or let go of all your hard work in recovery. If you know someone who is struggling with addiction in Texas, look up More Than Rehab or a treatment center in your area to find out what programs are available to help you or your loved one. The holiday season is one of the most common times that relapses occur. Let’s help each other make it through this season, sober.