The holiday season officially begins just one week from tomorrow, with Thanksgiving next Thursday. While the holiday season can be a chaotic and stressful time for the average American, it can be exponentially more stressful for the men and women working a program. Holidays have a way of dredging up old memories of a time when drinking and drugging was not problematic, partying with close friends and family from Thanksgiving through the New Year.
It isn’t just people who are new to recovery who struggle when the holidays come around. Even those with a significant amount of sobriety or clean time can find the holidays to be trying. It is vital that even the most seasoned members of the program put their recovery first on Thanksgiving and the subsequent holidays that follow. Remember, your addiction is just waiting for you to slip up, so it can rear its ugly head.
If you are new to recovery, it is likely that your sponsor or recovery peers have told you how important it is to have plans over the course of a holiday. It is often said that idle time is the devil’s handmaiden. It can also be analogous to inviting one’s addiction back into the picture. Those who successfully navigate the holiday waters, without picking up a drink or drug, are typically people who had a plan in place for the day. A schedule that is centered around one’s recovery. Please do not discount the importance of having a plan for Thanksgiving Day.
For those who still have family in their life, make sure that you set and stick to your boundaries when attending dinner. If you find that your boundaries have been crossed, or that the stress of being around family has become too much, there is no shame in leaving the gathering for the sake of your recovery. Once again, your recovery needs at times to be put before family; without one’s recovery, it is likely you won’t have family in your life.
If you are not traveling for the Thanksgiving break, make a point to attend your homegroup as much as possible. Even if you are feeling strong in your recovery, there is a good chance that there is a newcomer who could benefit from your story. Giving back to the program is paramount to keeping your recovery. Those of you who have traveling plans, make sure that you locate the meetings in the area where you will be. Have your cell phone handy at all times so that you can reach out to your sponsor, if you find yourself in a risky situation.
At Synergy Group Services, we would like to wish everyone working a program of recovery a safe and sober Thanksgiving.