Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Happy Sober Holidays

The holidays can be a particularly tough time for recovering alcoholics because temptations abound. People unknowingly may give you a fine bottle of wine as a gift, or you're invited to half a dozen parties (including office parties) where the booze will be flowing. Your "devil addict" will be perched on your shoulder, hissing into your ear: "Oh, you can handle it. It's Christmas! You can quit drinking again with the New Year" and things like that to rationalize your drinking.

So, how do you cope?

One strategy is to head things off at the pass. Make yourself the designated driver. The responsibility of that may ward off the temptation to imbibe. Take somebody with you to the party who is also in recovery, or who at least respects your recovery, and make a plan ahead of time with them about how to assist you if you get tempted. Be prepared to walk outside and call your sponsor if you need to.

It's also hard to enjoy drinking if you've got a belly full of AA, so go to extra meetings during the holidays. This reaffirms your commitment to a lifetime of recovery.

Make sure your spiritual program is in good standing. If you're Christian or Jewish, focus on the meaning of the season instead of the gifts and the parties and the commercialization of the religious holidays. Same thing for pagan religions; you're celebrating Yule or the Solstice. It's hard to be fully committed to your spiritual program if you're besotted with substances. It's hard to connect with your Higher Power when you're falling down drunk. Indeed, you are NEVER your best self or in touch with your Higher Self or Cosmic Consciousness if your brain is scrambled.

Another problem with the holidays that can make drowning yourself in your sorrows tempting to do is just that: depression. The holidays can be a time when you're grieving losses again, when you miss someone you held dearly, or when you find yourself taking stock of your life and suddenly realize you really don't have that many friends. Perhaps you're not close to your family, or you're far away from them in a new city where you don't know anyone yet.

You need to be proactive and shake yourself out of the brooding: or at least, make an earnest effort to. AA always schedules alcohol-free parties and pot-lucks. Find a meeting and ask, or just look online. If you're a total introvert and hate parties, read that book you've been meaning to read. Rent some movies. Better yet, invite someone you know over to watch them with you. Pop popcorn; make some holiday cookies together.

Or volunteer. Do something that will help you feel good about yourself. Go buy a toy, wrap it, and drop it off to a charity. Put together a bag of nonperishable food and donate it to your local food bank. It's been argued that there really isn't such a thing as altruism because the giver does get something back in return: a good feeling, a feeling of "I've just made a difference in someone's life in some small way."

When you're feeling good about yourself, when you are committed to your recovery, and when your spiritual program is working for you, it's not so hard to overcome any cravings you may have. The bottom line is, keep these three aspects in order and close to your heart. And bear in mind: alcohol is the biggest liar you know. It never makes us feel better. It only makes us feel worse.

May you have a wondrous, sober holiday season!


The Subversive Librarian said...

Great advice, Joyce. I would add, don't get too hungry, angry, lonely, or tired; I keep a full glass in my hand; and remember that no matter what others might expect of me, nothing is more important than my recovery. There is NO party, get-together, show, event, or service that I MUST attend. And even if I attend, I can leave after 5 minutes. "'No' is a complete sentence."

Joyce said...

Yes! How could I forget HALT? :)

And I was known to leave parties shortly after arriving even when I was drinking, lol

Thank you!

Last 100 Days said...

Great advice, sage examples, keeping it simple. and sober.

Joyce said...

Hear, hear. :)

Leslie Lim said...

I read your blog.I thought it was great.. Hope you have a great day. God bless.


Joyce said...

Thank you.