You’ve had your longest sober stretch so far. You’re proud of yourself. You’re determined to keep going.
A big part of your success is your dedication to remove yourself from situations where the temptation stares you in the eyes. However, you’re feeling anxious about the holidays. You fear that you may not be strong enough around alcohol; that it will lure you in and demolish all your progress.
Holidays are a time for joy, get-togethers with family, and social activities. However, the celebrations can be tricky for Christians in addiction recovery. The following advice will help you stay sober throughout the holidays:
1. Maintain Accountability
Accountability. We are responsible for ourselves and our choices. We are accountable to God for what we choose to do with our lives. Life is God’s gift to us; what we do with it is our gift to Him.
Holding yourself to a high standard and keeping yourself accountable will create a solid foundation to build your other habits when facing the holiday season. In addition, it’s wise to surround yourself with others who will keep you accountable. Plan gatherings with those who understand what you are going through and genuinely care about your best interest. Those who will discourage you from making the wrong choice. Those who will say a quick prayer with you in times of need. Stay close to those who have been pivotal in your recovery journey, and lean on them.
2. Surround Yourself with Positivity and Know Your Limits
We all have that one, crazy aunt, uncle, or half-cousin who’s the king of back-handed compliments and criticism. You may have other family members who aren’t entirely in the loop with your recent struggles and will insist you try their famous cocktail. Perhaps being around certain family members is what led to your drinking problem in the first place. Family drama and complicated dynamics may trigger your craving to drink. It may even convince you that you deserve a drink because of what you’ve endured.
Don’t let it be an option. Say no to gatherings that won’t serve you well. Surround yourself only with loved ones who will add light and positivity to your holiday celebrations; who will help you get lost in the spirit of Christmas and assure you that you can have the most meaningful and uplifting conversations while being sober. You can also reach out to friends from the substance abuse facility you attended. Your recovery peers are dealing with similar issues and you can be a great source of strength and encouragement for one another.
3. Hold onto Your Spirituality
If you’ve been to one of our Christian-based treatment centers, you’ve gained precious tools for turning to Christ and choosing hope. Our faith gives us reason behind our desire to be better and continually progress. In substance abuse recovery, you let go of the old you, the one who needed drugs or alcohol to get through the day. You learn to change destructive thought patterns through the atonement of our savior, Jesus Christ. You create a new life that welcomes health and happiness. Through prayer, you can mitigate your feelings of isolation, directly connect with God, and ask for comfort.
Our relationship with Christ is ever-growing. You may have once viewed the holidays as the best excuse to over-indulge in drugs or alcohol. Look at it now as the perfect opportunity to invite Christ into your life. Read about the birth of Christ. One of the best ways to feel the Spirit in your life is through service. Volunteer to read the nativity at a local private school. Volunteer at a soup kitchen. Get involved with a toy drive. There are many ways to hone in on your faith and do good around the holidays, which is the perfect distraction.
4. Form and Maintain Healthy Habits
Nothing impacts us as positively as a healthy mind, heart, and body. What health goals can you make to improve those three areas? Replace old bad habits with new, good ones. Exercise often, eat well. Read good books and fill your mind with wholesome content. Feed yourself spiritually, emotionally, and physically. This will help you to feel confident, mentally stable, and ready to conquer the holidays without a drink.
5. Avoid Relapse Triggers
In recovery or not, the holidays can be very stressful. And unfortunately, stress is one of the biggest relapse triggers. The pressures around the holidays can also lead to other triggers, such as:
- Challenging emotions
- Times of Celebration
One of the easiest ways to avoid relapse triggers is to stop taking on more than you can handle. Be comfortable saying “no.” It’s OK to say “no.” It is a great skill to learn and may protect you.
“Always remember, with the Savior’s help, you can break free from addiction,” said Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, a senior apostle in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “It may be a long, difficult path, but the Lord will not give up on you. He loves you. Jesus Christ suffered the atonement to help you change and get free from the captivity of sin. The most important thing is to keep trying — sometimes, it takes several attempts before people find success. So don’t give up. Don’t lose faith. Keep your heart close to the Lord, and He will give you the power of deliverance. He will make you free.”
As you reflect on the true meaning of Christmas and absorb the magnitude of Christ’s birth, do your best to continue to welcome His presence into your daily life. Through Him, we can overcome even the most seemingly impossible trials, including addiction. As the holidays get closer, consider preparing yourself mentally and physically for a sober holiday season filled with joy.