Holiday Recovery Tips

When you’re early in sobriety — or just going through a rough patch — the holidays can look pretty scary. All the hoopla, financial stress, the prospect of family get-togethers, being out of your comfort zone, or maybe the idea of spending the holidays on your own: these are all triggers for fear. Just remember, millions of people in the program have successfully faced these same fears. Here’s some collected wisdom to help keep you clean and sober this holiday season:

  • Don’t start worrying about all the possible upcoming holiday temptations. Remember “one day at a time”.
  • Speak to at least one other alcoholic/addict every day.
  • Many groups have seasonal parties full of good food and great fellowship, or special candlelight or gratitude meetings. Some AA groups’ seasonal meetings can be found at AA Toronto. If you’re shy about going alone, ask a newcomer to join you or talk to your sponsor about it – but go!
  • If you’re going to be out of town, check online or call your local Intergroup office for information on meetings in the area you’re going to. Familiarize yourself as much as possible in advance with when and where the meetings are.
  • Line up extra sober activities for the holiday season. Go to more meetings, as well as social gatherings with other people in recovery.
  • Keep a list of support phone numbers with you at all times. If the urge to drink or use hits, don’t do anything until AFTER you’ve spoken to another alcoholic/addict.
  • Stay spiritually fit. Make extra time for prayer and meditation and any practices that help you connect with your Higher Power.
  • Stay clear of HALT (don’t get too hungry, angry, lonely or tired). More than ever, this is the time to get enough sleep, eat well, get to meetings, and share what you’re feeling.
  • Adjust your expectations. It’s said that expectations are resentments that just haven’t happened yet. Remember that you have no control over what others do or say, but you do have control over your reactions.
  • Practice gratitude. Write a gratitude list every morning. You’ll be less likely to pick up a drink or drug if you’re feeling truly grateful for your sobriety and your chance for a new life.
  • Skip any drinking occasion you are nervous about. No party is worth losing your sobriety. “Sorry, I won’t be able to make it” is all you have to say.
  • Keep busy. Do extra service work at your home group; talk to your sponsor about other service work you can do; go to service meetings held in hospitals or treatment centres. There’s nothing like working with other alcoholics/addicts to increase your gratitude quotient.

About the Authors

Renascent Staff
The staff at Renascent is passionate about helping people with substance addictions so they can reach their full recovery – with compassion, respect, empathy and understanding. Our staff includes our counsellors, all of whom have lived experience of addiction and recovery.