a group of people touch drinks over a holiday feast, a reminder to be mindful of drinking cues

Overcoming Hidden Drinking Cues This Holiday

The holidays are rife with things that make picking up a drink feel like the most natural thing in the world. Maybe it once was, but that urge can feel catastrophic for you at this place and moment because you aren’t drinking anymore. And alcohol drinking cues and all their roles in holiday togetherness feel a little like the ghost of holidays past. 

So how can you cope? With a little bit of planning and all the strength you already possess, you’ve got the tools you need to assemble a holiday toolkit that shuts down those cues before they can take root. If you need extra support, the alcohol addiction treatment center at Recovery Ranch Tennessee can help. Call 1.844.876.7680 or contact us online for more information.

Prepare for All the Drinking Cues Ahead

Family visits are common this time of year, and with that comes a whirlwind of emotions and familiar habits from the past. This is especially relevant for those who have experienced abuse in their family household and are traveling back. Remember, context cues set off powerful triggers by simply walking through the front door. 

Readily accessible alcohol available at most holiday gatherings, combined with a triggering environment—more so if you used to drink in this house—will provoke some serious cravings for alcohol. Drinking cues are challenging for anyone trying to cut back or remain sober during the holidays, specifically those in early recovery. 

It’s difficult to resist a response to cues you aren’t even noticing until they’ve already made their way past your defenses. If you attend holiday parties, raising your awareness will be key to keeping your triggers and drinking cues in line. 

Why the Holidays Are Stressful

The holidays can also be an emotionally charged time that kicks off feelings of stress, sadness, and loneliness for many. It’s normal to experience some negative emotions during these special times. But if you find yourself drinking in response to your distress, it’s important to pay attention and practice self-care to ensure lasting sobriety.

Even if you don’t have a history of problematic drinking or drug use, the holidays can be overwhelming. If friends and family members are expecting to celebrate with alcohol, it may seem like an impossible task to refuse drinks at holiday parties and gatherings.

Examples of Common Alcohol Drinking Cues During the Holidays

  • Unsettling emotions, such as anger, sadness, or anxiety
  • Being around someone with whom you have a stressful relationship with
  • Any party where there are people who are using substances
  • Seeing commercials, television shows, or movies that glamorize the use of substances
  • Eating at a specific restaurant or specific food that is part of your family’s traditional meal 

Many of these drinking cues enter and exit your awareness without much notice. This leaves behind a lingering urge to revisit the actions associated with them. One small moment may stick with you all day, whetting an appetite you can’t satisfy without understanding how you got there. It’s frustrating and can make you feel like you lack control over your thoughts, even when your actions align with your recovery plan. 

Practice Recovery Mindfulness

Practice noticing those thoughts as readily as you notice the drinking cues. Observe them without attaching judgment to them so the feelings they bring up can enter and leave without harm.

As you move through the holiday season, spend some time with your support system, therapist, or sponsor reviewing the drinking cues you might encounter and noting how they make you feel. Instead of focusing on how you might fail, concentrate on noticing cues. Your awareness of them may be the defining factor in defense. This can empower you to act ahead of alcohol impulses. You are still in control and capable even when you’re struggling. 

Holiday Help at Recovery Ranch Tennessee

The residential addiction treatment program at Recovery Ranch Tennessee provides a safe and supportive environment for those seeking to overcome substance abuse. The program utilizes various therapeutic techniques to help participants achieve and maintain sobriety. Treatment includes individual and group counseling, family therapy, and recreational activities. The staff at Recovery Ranch Tennessee is dedicated to helping participants achieve and maintain sobriety, and provides support and guidance throughout the recovery process.

Don’t let drinking cues stand in the way of your recovery. You can find hope and healing during this holiday season with the right support. Recovery Ranch Tennessee is here to help you through it. Contact us online or call 1.844.876.7680 today to learn more about our residential addiction treatment program and how we can help you stay sober this holiday season.

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