Surviving the Holidays

For an addict, getting through this time of year can be particularly rough. In some places, the AA chapter will hold special meetings on Christmas and New Year’s for this exact reason. It feels like everywhere you look, people are drinking, and you miss that social aspect of it. But, it’s important to remember that, for us, drinking became about something completely different than just fun socializing a long time ago. And that we must stay sober to stay happy.

It’s also kind of a stressful time of year, with all the activity going on and all the things that need to get done. But, also remind yourself that while in the moment it might feel like alcohol eases your stress, it really doesn’t ease anything at all, and you will only feel more stressed and anxious if you drink.

I haven’t done a safe coping strategy in a long time (sorry!). I think one that is fitting right now is:

Think of the consequences. Really see the impact for tomorrow, next week, next year.

You might think you can have a drink or two over the holidays, just to celebrate. But, in reality, it’s dangerous for you to even¬†consider taking one sip. This is how you start down that slippery slope into making yourself think a little more is ok. Then just a little more. Then a little more. Until you’re right back where you started. Which I think we can all agree is not somewhere we ever want to go again.

Focus on your feelings, and work through them. Resist the urge to “drink them away.” If you’re feeling stressed with the amount of things you have to do, really look at your to-do list and cut out the non-essential items. Don’t worry about disappointing people or letting someone down. Chances are, you won’t. And you’re health and sanity are far more important.

If you’re feeling down emotionally, seek out other people. If you don’t have anyone in your life that you can turn to, then get to a meeting. There you will find solace. Being alone this time of year can be dangerous. Find ways to interact with people, and find things to do that will bring you joy.

We trick ourselves into feeling like this time of year means more, or is more special, than the rest of the year. But really, it’s no different than the other months out of the year. Stop putting pressure on yourself to make the time of year perfect, and just try to relax and enjoy it. Every day of your life is meaningful and special, not only these last few days of the year.

Make special plans for next year. Think of all the fun things you will do. Think of all that you will be able to accomplish. Think of how much better you can make your new year, than your last year. Look toward the new year with happiness and confidence, instead of fearing or dreading it.

Happy holidays, and be safe.

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