The Ghosts of Holidays Past

How do you manage to stay sober when you’re entering that frivolous holiday time of the year lasting from Halloween through New Year’s Eve? Relapse prevention during the holidays is no small feat during those weeks, a time when we concentrate on eating, drinking, and making merry. With your dedicated commitment to treatment, you can successfully make it through the holidays.

The silly season starts with October 31—which actually falls on a Saturday in 2015—followed by football on Sunday. Then we wind our way into November, getting ready to give thanks to our family, friends, and Higher Power for the wonderful things that have happened this year. We’ll move on to that in a minute—but first you have to consider the hullaballoo of holiday shopping and the frenzy of festivities facing you. Next come all the holiday parties, including some awesome December feasts. Last comes the romance party night of the year, when you get to kiss somebody at midnight.

Returning to the idea of being thankful, you may ask if there’s really so much to celebrate in a year when you’ve battled drug or alcohol addiction. You bet there is! As you consider how you’ll avoid relapse, remember this: You deserve to be sober.

You deserve to hold your head high throughout the holiday season because you have worked long and tried hard to achieve sobriety. It’s time for you to honor your self-worth and recognize your accomplishments, without letting the holiday season topple your goals.

Excusing Your Drink

The first part of embracing relapse prevention as you make your way through the holidays is to realize that you can have a social life without alcohol. The hardest part will be delivering your endless excuses to well-meaning friends about why you’re not drinking. Tell them you don’t want the empty calories of alcohol, tell them you’re the designated driver, or tell them nothing, because they don’t need to know you’re sipping soda with a lime twist.

The Road to Relapse Prevention

Rather than serving as a designated driver, however, perhaps you should drive only yourself around this year. Why should you subject yourself to transporting friends who are going to be lit up brighter than the tree?  And why accept a ride from Charlie when you know that relapse prevention is not an issue for him and you’ll ultimately be fighting him for the car keys?

Avoid the really crazy parties—the one where everybody laughs when Uncle Chester puts a lampshade on his head and dives into his pool. Is that really where your head is right now?

Here are our best tips to make your way through the holidays without encountering any spirits other than Charles Dickens’ ghosts:

  • Attend as many 12-step meetings as possible. Look for dry clubs in the city where you live. If it’s got a name like Sahara Club, it’s probably as dry as a If you’re in relapse prevention in Albuquerque, that’s where you want to be.
  • If you are going and you want to experiment with some delicious non-alcoholic beverages, visit Martha Stewart’s website for her really great recipes. Even throwing some cotton candy into a glass of ginger ale ratchets up the festivities a notch.
  • Change your plans this year with your friends who drink. Instead of meeting good old Harold at Joe’s Bar and Grill, arrange to meet him for some Lobo basketball. He doesn’t have to know you’re focused on relapse prevention. Tell him you’re not drinking because you have a stomach ulcer—simply insist on choosing a different venue this year so that the ghosts of holidays past won’t take you to the brink of relapse. Or just tell him the truth, that you no longer drink, and so be it.
  • Keep phone numbers handy for your sponsor and other people in your support network. If you do end up in that bar with Harold, call the sponsor and tell him right then and there. Just call.

Ring in the New Year Sober—and Proud

Be proud of yourself. Relapse prevention means that you recognize the wonderful person you are and all the reasons why you should preserve your sobriety.  You’ve worked harder for this than for anything else in your life. You are a strong person, and you won’t be swayed when other people coax you to swig it down or light it up. That is not who you are, anymore.

At midnight on New Year’s Eve, congratulate yourself by playing Vine’s 2015 hit, Baby I’m Worth It. Because you are. And planting that midnight kiss on someone is much better when you’re sober.