Addiction and Holiday Season

Not so lovely holiday bubbly

Two issues that may seem unrelated are addiction and Holiday Season. Often though, the two issues merge. There are more get-togethers during the Holiday Season and if you or someone you care about has an addiction, say, to alcohol, than the temptations of Christmas eggnog and New Years punch may be too close for comfort.

Be Realistic About Addictions During the Holiday Season

Any addiction can be problematic during the holiday season but to make this short article simple let's focus on alcohol addiction. If you or someone close to you is has a food addiction, or is trying to quit smoking, or is dealing with other addictions, the coping tactics discussed here can be easily adjusted.

A simple plan is to avoid get-togethers where alcohol is served. This is a clear-cut and simple decision that will keep you away from alcohol but it's not entirely practical. There will always be celebrations you may enjoy attending, your friends want your company at these events, and sometimes (such as if the holiday event is work related) you may not have the choice to not attend.

A more realistic approach is to try to attend holiday events as you normally might but assume that when you go to holiday events that there will be alcohol available, you need to have a plan set in place for how to survive addiction during the holidays.

Before we look at coping skills surrounding addiction and holiday season, something to consider is if you can ask the event host if adjustments can be made that prohibits alcohol. The event may not be adjustable, but it never hurts to ask. A good friend or family member is likely to make some adjustments because they want to see you beat your addiction.

Coping with Addiction and Holiday Season Issues

The first rule is that you should not let the holiday season become an excuse for you to drink. Many people have issues with addiction and learn to adjust and so can you. If your loved one is the person you're worried about because they have an addiction reiterate to them that the holidays are not an excuse to stop their treatment plan.

  • What to divulge: You do not ever have to tell someone why you don't want a drink. You can simply say, "No thanks." Real friends will leave it at that. You can discuss why you aren't drinking if you choose. Remember though, your personal issues don't give you the right to make other people feel bad for having a drink or two. Many people can drink safely because they are not addicted.
  • Dealing with pushy people: If someone starts pressuring you more frequently to drink, if they won't take no for an answer it's time to walk away. Find a friend who does care about you or ask the host to control the situation. If the pushy person is the host then it may be time to leave. If you are that pushy person; than cut it out. If you have a friend who says no then drop it. They may have an issue you don't know about and don't need the added pressure from you.
  • Your house, your rules: If you are hosting a holiday event you have every right to make it an alcohol-free event. If people come with alcohol ask them to leave it in the car. By the same token if you are attending a party and the host has vetoed alcohol than don't bring any. They have their reasons for having an alcohol-free party and you need to respect that; even if you don't agree.
  • Buddy up: When you go to an event, take along a friend who is also in recovery if you have one. This tactic allows you to feel less alone in your situation which can curb anxiety - which in turn can prevent you taking a drink.
  • Call your mentor: Many drug treatment programs offer mentors to help you through rough patches. Mentors usually have been in this situation at some point. If you have a mentor, call her before you attend the party to get coping pointers and carry her number with you to the party in case you need to talk to someone during the event.
  • Talk to your doctor: Various studies mention that the holidays can be hard for people in drug addiction recovery. If you feel overwhelming worry or fear about how you will deal with the holiday season, your doctor may be able to prescribe a seasonal medication that can help. The holidays are a great time to check in with your doctor anyway because he likely has lots of good ideas about how you can cope with the holidays and addiction.

Finally, be positive. Yes it's tough to be in alcoholism recovery and be at an event where people are drinking but you can do it. You don't have to drink simply because it's there. Think of it this way - once you get through this event where alcohol is present then the next event may be even easier.

Every single time you say, "No thanks" to a drink you are building a new person who doesn't need that drink. If you think it might help carry a picture of your wife, husband, child, or best friend. When you feel like taking a drink, take a good look at that picture. You are not only staying sober for you; you're staying sober for all the people who care about you as well.

There will always be addiction and holiday season issues to deal with. The sooner you find good ways to cope the sooner you can have the holidays be about fun, family, and friends without that nagging worry always in the back of your mind.

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Addiction and Holiday Season