Another holiday weekend is upon us, and for those working a program of recovery, it is vital that steps are taken to avoid complications. While Passover and Easter may not be super important to everyone, for many people this is an essential time for observance. Just because you do not associate a holiday with heavy alcohol use, it doesn’t mean you can let your guard down. After all, any holiday that involves spending time with family, both being around loved ones, and not, can result in several emotions rising from within you. Coping with your feelings in constructive ways can make all the difference, especially if long-term recovery is your goal.
It is vital that you do not discount the power of emotions. A considerable number of people in early recovery have not yet regained the trust and confidence of their friends and family; which means that some of you may not spend time with loved ones this weekend. Disliking your current reality is OK, natural even, but it should not be cause for behaving in ways that will not benefit your recovery. Remember, the program gives us tools for managing uncomfortable feelings; instead of dwelling on deficiencies in your life, double your efforts in recovery. You are not alone, your program, support network, and the fellowship are always available to assist you with any obstacle. Significant holidays easily qualify as a potential barrier to progress.
Hopefully, you have already begun planning your drug and alcohol-free weekend. If not, take some time today to start planning how you will navigate the coming days without doing anything that could jeopardize all your hard work.
Utilizing Your Support Network in Recovery
Those of you who have plans to spend time with close friends and family this weekend must also make time for your program. No matter what, recovery comes before anything else for the simple reason that without your program nothing beneficial is possible. Getting to a meeting before and after family gatherings is a surefire way to avoid the trappings of alcohol and substance use. The “meeting before” grounds you, allowing you to proceed with your plans with focus; the “meeting after” can act as a decompression chamber sparing you of the familial “bends.” Feelings can quickly arise without you knowing it when in the company of family, left unchecked, “stinking thinking” ensues. Processing your feeling with your support network protects against relapse.
Anyone who doesn’t have a holiday agenda this weekend would be wise to stay close to your “recovery family;” the people who you sit next to you every week in meetings. It doesn’t matter how you refer to such people—friends, peers, or acquaintances—they have a vested interest in your wellbeing. What’s more, some of the individuals in your inner-recovery circle might need your assistance over the weekend; being there for them, and vice versa can significantly strengthen your program. Never downplay the vital role you play in other people’s lives, recovery is inextricably linked with being of service to others. Call the people in your support network and lock down plans for safely traversing the holiday weekend.
Making a schedule of meetings, you plan to attend is crucial. Keep to your plan as best you can and it far less likely you will encounter problems. If you get into a risky situation, make a phone call or get to a meeting ASAP. The dedicated staff of Synergy Group Services would like to wish everyone a safe and sober holiday.
If you are struggling with alcohol or substance use disorder, please contact Synergy today to discuss your treatment options. Lasting recovery is possible, and the healing process starts with reaching out for help.
Hurricanes Irma and Jose are behind us and Maria appears to be bypassing the state of Florida. With the exception of the Keys, the state was not nearly as devastated as many feared. Perhaps we can all take a moment to be thankful for that, it could have been so much worse. And we should pray for all those affected on the islands to the south. For those of you working a program of recovery, hopefully you were able to weather the storm — recovery intact?
Even though the damage was far less the expected, millions of Floridians were required to evacuate. The stress of which was palpable. As you well know, stress in recovery is to be avoided whenever possible. Hurricanes don’t usually afford such a luxury. A number of people on the journey of recovery had to ensure that everything was in order, a plan. Those of you who had one likely made it through to the other side without a drink or drug.
Unfortunately, reality dictates that not everyone did. Especially those who were in the early stages of recovery. Who were maybe short on ways to cope with the stress of a natural disaster, or the potential of it. If you relapsed recently, it is vital that you recommit yourself to the program. Please do not guilt and shame yourself further away.
Coming Back from Relapse
Almost two weeks have passed since Irma struck the Sunshine State. If you relapsed around that time, it is possible that you are still using. Ideally, you will dust yourself off and get to a meeting ASAP. Some of you probably have already. For those of you who haven’t, it is vital that you do so immediately, the longer this goes on the worse it will get. Not to mention the risk of physical dependence setting in, again. Thus, dictating the need for detox.
The aforementioned eventuality can happen quickly, especially with drugs like opioids. If you have detoxed at any point, you know it is not a delightful experience. If you feel like you are not in too deep, the fellowship is waiting for you to return. You may be thinking that your recovery peers will not welcome you back without judgment. They will. You might think that the program doesn’t work. After all you relapsed. It does work, though.
At the end of the day relapse is a part of many people’s story of recovery. Remember, recovery is about progress, not perfection. You learn from where you veered from the path and do what you can to avoid a repeat of history. Your sponsor and recovery peers will help you with this. Please do not let false pride stand in the way of returning to recovery.
Treatment Might Be Needed
Those of you who have been hitting the bottle or drugs hard for a couple weeks might need more than just returning to meetings. Treatment may be the best course of action, helping you avoid relapse again early on. At Synergy Group Services, we can help get you back on the path of recovery. Helping you determine what needs to change this time around to increase your chances of achieving long-term recovery. It’s possible.
Everyone working a program of addiction recovery knows that most things in life are out of one’s control. Try as you might to encourage things to go one way, or people to do a certain thing, the opposite often happens. The famed Serenity Prayer covers this reality quite nicely:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.
Courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
Life, like the weather, is hard to predict and even harder to do anything about. If it is going to rain, it’s going to rain. Those touched by addiction, especially those in recovery, know that their mental health disorder is not their fault. You tried to control it, or deny its presence, at great cost. Recovery forced you to accept that you were powerless over drugs and alcohol and that your life had become unmanageable. With that in mind, you decided to approach life in different way and asked for help. Not just of other people, of a power that was greater than yourself.
Every day, people working a program of recovery are diligent about keeping constant contact with their higher power. Make a commitment to live life, on life’s terms. Accepting that no individual runs the entire show, we are only responsible for being good to ourselves and to others. If we live life honestly, there is no need for lies and manipulation. Nor a need to blanket our emotions with something as caustic as drugs and alcohol. But, to be free from the bondage of self, recovery requires daily maintenance.
Managing Recovery During Traumatic Times
Those of us in South Florida are no strangers to conditions which are out of our hands. After all, our state falls in “Hurricane Alley.” Certain conditions make this part of the country a target of some of history’s most destructive weather phenomena. The damage caused by hurricanes is stressful enough to cause anyone to want to find some form of stress relief. A slippery slope for anyone working a program.
Right now, it is uncertain what direction Hurricane Irma will take. Although, meteorologists seem to think that the now Category 5 hurricane is barreling toward Southern Florida. In certain areas evacuation orders are highly likely. If you live in one of the areas predicted to be affected it is vital that you have plan in place. One’s recovery, being absolutely paramount, must weather the storm.
There is high likelihood of power and cellular outages. If you find yourself in need to relocate until the storm passes, please locate a place where you can attend recovery meetings. You may not be able to get hold of your sponsor or recovery peers. Now, more than ever, you will be required to rely on the fellowship itself for support. If you have a plan in place before things become overwhelming, you will have a much greater chance to avoiding problems. Remember what you have learned and utilize the recovery tools at your disposal.
Constant Contact With Your Higher Power
There may be times when you’re not around others in the program. When that occurs remember that your higher power is with you. Prayer and meditation is great way to stay grounded, and keep one’s stress at bay. At Synergy Group Services, we hope that everyone gets to a safe location and has taken steps to protect their addiction recovery. Please do not discount the importance of spiritual shelter during traumatic events.
With Thanksgiving only a week away, it is time for people in recovery to begin thinking about what their day will look like. Holidays can be quite difficult for people in recovery, especially those who are new to the program. A lot of feelings and memories can arise, which can be hard to work through. It is ever important to stay connected with one’s support network and keep to the normal routine as much as possible.
For whatever reason, people in recovery tend to look at the holidays as being somehow different than the other days of the year. Fortunately, that is not the case! The tools of recovery work 365 days a year – vacations and holidays are no exception.
It is important to remember that you are not alone, many people in recovery struggle during the holidays; but, it is possible, together, to get through the day without picking up a drink or drug. Having a list of phone numbers you can call, no matter the reason, can save one’s recovery. If you find yourself in a recovery threatening situation, pick up the phone and call your sponsor; a simple phone call can break the kind of thinking that may be leading to relapse. If for some reason your sponsor doesn’t answer, leave a message, and immediately call the next person on your recovery support list – someone will answer.
It is important to attend your “home group” during a holiday, making yourself present will help reaffirm your place in the community. People in recovery draw strength from each other, even if you are not struggling you may be able to help someone who is having hard time.
Here are several tips you can use to help you over the holiday:
- Plan Out Your Day Ahead of Time: Having a plan laid out will minimize the chances of finding yourself in a risky situation.
- Get To A Meeting: Over the course of the day, there are meetings happening at the top of every hour.
- Volunteer: Recovery events are always held during the major holidays, offering to help out is a sure way to get out of your head.
- Remember H.A.L.T (Hungry.Angry.Lonely.Tired): Be conscious of how you are feeling, if any of the aforementioned feelings arise – take action!
- Support: Make sure to leave the house with your cell phone. If you don’t have one, carry a list of phone numbers you can call for support.
Synergy Group Services would like to wish everyone a safe and sober holiday!
At Synergy Group Services we offer individualized treatment plans for addiction recovery.