How to Find Sobriety During the Holidays
Sobriety during the holidays can be challenging for anyone. Whether a person is in recovery for years or new to it, the holidays will likely fuel both positive and negative emotions. While this season may be rough for some, you can help guide those with a substance use disorder (SUD) through the ups and downs that come with the holidays.
Sobriety During the Holidays
Sober holidays are achievable through healthy alternatives that will help your patients cope with friends and family. Regardless of where your client is in their journey, they can be new to recovery, thinking about becoming sober, or experienced in their sobriety, you can simply ask them to imagine spending the holidays without using a substance. Once they commit to this task, they can work with you to discover what triggered their substance use in the past. Identifying what causes stress, anxiety, or depression will help put coping strategies in place.
Heading into the holidays with a negative state of mind can increase anxiety about social gatherings. Changing your client’s mindset requires them to rethink how they see themselves and their environment. Instead of dreading a specific person or party, ask them to replace negative thoughts with healthy coping skills. A few ways to achieve a positive mindset are:
- Prepare a holiday toolkit. Such tools include healthy alternatives to avoid or confront situations that threaten your client’s mental health. Incorporating holistic therapies in their toolkit can aid them in taking a step back, identifying the stressor, and finding a peaceful way to handle the person or event. For example, holistic therapies are useful for times of stress or anxiety. Encourage your client to meditate, focus on what makes them happy, or do breathwork.
- Act like a vegan. Your client needs to remember they chose sobriety. Once they decided to enter substance addiction treatment, they opted for a better life. Sobriety is a lifestyle, just like being a vegan is a lifestyle choice. Your client doesn’t owe anyone an explanation if they aren’t drinking or decided to stop drinking.
- Know your worth. Despite your client’s best efforts to divert the conversation away from drinking, there will be those who push buttons and continue to probe the conversation. Remind them that a person’s actions—such as pointing out flaws or choosing confrontation—say more about them than others. Someone who pushes their thoughts and opinions on others is solely focused on their own personal narrative.
- Envision and log it. If your client is considering sobriety, ask them to envision going into the holidays sober. After attending their social gatherings, have your client write down their full experience, including how they felt throughout the festivities. Then you can discuss these events and emotions during their next session.
Regardless of a client’s length of sobriety, having them keep a journal during the holidays is a handy way for them to recognize patterns and stay present.
Sometimes despite your client’s best efforts, a holiday gathering will test their sobriety. Unfortunately, some people or events will challenge and test their mental health, leaving your client feeling stressed, angry, frustrated, confused, or depressed. No one can predict if outside influences will change their patterns. However, fully experiencing emotions is a positive sign that they are maintaining their sobriety. Whether this is their first or twentieth holiday season without substances, congratulate them on going through the holidays sober, as that’s a huge accomplishment that many don’t get to experience.
A client’s sobriety gives them an advantage they wouldn’t have if they were still using a substance. Your client may observe disputes or altercations, hurt feelings, tensions, and general negativity during holiday festivities. The coping mechanisms they learned while in substance addiction treatment prepared them to evaluate the situation, assess how they feel, acknowledge their emotions, and react. Before treatment, they were either immediately responding and careless in their actions, but now they are observers. Substance addiction treatment transformed how they interact and react.
Sobriety also includes the ability to set limits. If your client is pressured into a conversation or situation that makes them uncomfortable, they can rely on what they learned in therapy. Work with your client on various scenarios so they can become comfortable with switching topics or politely remove themselves altogether. Your client’s first priority is their mental well-being.
Holidays Are Temporary
Whether your client is stressed about Thanksgiving or a holiday in December, remind them that while the season may be a month-long stretch, the gatherings are limited to only a few days that can be split up. Suggest putting a limit on the time they spend with family and friends. Encourage your client to decrease the celebrations into small sections or skip some of those days if it protects their sobriety.
The expectations and festivities that encompass the holiday season can strain anyone’s mental health. A person who is new to recovery, thinking about recovery, or has spent time in recovery can find these situations challenging. Your client can find comfort and guidance through sessions focused on coping with the holidays. You can encourage them to set boundaries or remove themselves from uncomfortable situations. Through traditional and holistic therapies, your client can rethink how they interact and respond to those who trigger unhealthy emotions. Sobriety is a lifestyle choice, and your client doesn’t owe an explanation to anyone. However, if your client needs a place to reset and recoup from a relapse, Alta Centers is here to help. We have a world-class detox center perched in the Hollywood Hills. Our advantage is we believe in serenity, privacy, and luxury. Our trained staff supports your client as they take the steps necessary for a healthy life. Call us at (888) 202-2583.