Handling the Holidays When Recovering From Alcohol Addiction

The holiday season brings with it multiple parties dripping of sugary treats and toasts to health and happiness with festive alcoholic drinks. For many who are recovering from an alcohol addiction, holiday parties involve temptations that could risk their health and happiness. The holidays are an especially difficult time for recovering alcoholics.

But recovering alcoholics do not have to miss the celebration of the holidays. Guarded with strategies to resist taking the drink being offered to them by a friend or dipping into the rum slush, those recovering from addiction can focus on their friends and family and the happiness of being together during the holiday season.

Party Pressures

Researchers note that those who have had addictions have a higher sense of pleasure. This pleasure response is what drives addiction so powerfully. Temptations to start drinking again during the holiday season are especially tempting because it is such a social time of year. Multiple pressures surround a recovering alcoholic at holiday parties:

  • Expectations from the crowd to join in the drinking
  • Family problems at gatherings or loneliness become excuses to start drinking again
  • Well-meaning family members or friends keep offering a drink as a sort of “reward” for good behavior and try to persuade the recovering addict that just one won’t hurt them. Yet, one drink is enough to pull someone back into addiction.
  • Attractive alcoholic holiday drinks, party slushes, and toasts.

If a recovering alcoholic breaks down and takes a drink of alcohol, they should leave the party immediately. Relapses can happen; but, if the person has the sense to realize they are putting themselves in danger and then has the strength to actually stop and leave, they should not be ashamed. By having the sense and strength to leave, they have taken a huge and hopeful step in their recovery.

Party Plans

Just because someone has given up drinking alcohol, does not mean that they should have to give up holiday parties. With careful plans and determination, recovering alcohol addicts can enjoy the party without the alcohol.

  • Focus on Joy. The joy of recovery can help an addict focus on the best things of life rather than worries of relapsing in the sight of alcohol.
  • Leave before the heavy drinking begins. Be present to open the gifts, but avoid staying too late when the alcohol really starts flowing.
  • Avoid parties that are certain to include heavy drinking.
  • Resist with a simple statement. There is no need for recovering alcoholics to go into long explanations as to why they are not drinking. They can merely say that they do not drink alcohol.

The Gift of Giving

One of the best ways that recovering alcoholics can stay sober over the holidays is to help other recovering alcoholics avoid holiday drinking temptations. Helping others through AA meetings and accompanying other recovering addicts to parties can stir pride, accomplishment, and confidence in those who are also battling the temptation of relapse. Helping others is a great way to help yourself.

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