If you have a drinking or drug using problem the Christmas season can be a difficult time to stick to your goals of sobriety.
“Oh No! Here come the holidays and what if I can’t stay sober??” you might be thinking. Well you absolutely can with good planning and good thinking.
The above thought that begins with: “Oh no, what if…” is what is referred to as a catastrophic thought and a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you think it long enough or enough times you will create a high state of anxiety and stress for yourself which is not the goal. Don’t go down the “What if highway”, it will lead to anxiety and fear and stress and is not a good coping thought. The goal is serenity and peace and calm and sobriety. What we are thinking is key to how we feel. This is the basis of cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT, our research proven technique for preventing relapse.
The kind of thinking that gets you drinking is also called the addictive voice. Your thoughts or cognitions affect our behavior and feelings. What you think about, you will bring about essentially. If you want to stay sober over the holidays we need thoughts like: “With good planning, good thinking and God’s help, I can resist cravings over the holidays and stay clean and sober.
The addictive voice will try to convince you and rationalize how drinking and using will be okay this time, how you deserve it after working so hard, and it’s the holidays everybody’s doing it!! Why can’t I? Poor me. Pour me, pour me, and pour me another drink! You need to stay out of self-pity. Your recovery voice can remind you that it won’t be just one and that it will end in a binge eventually with the incredible demoralization and remorse.
Make a Plan
There is a wise saying that says if we fail to plan we plan to fail. It is good to have a written plan that you can refer to often. You will have assurance that we have looked ahead and have coping thoughts and plans to get through the various relapsed triggers of the season. Maybe just Christmas or New Year’s or Hanukkah is enough to trigger memories of all the holidays house where you drank alcohol and used drugs. This can set up a type of mental craving that translates into a physical craving. Your imagination and memory is very powerful, and must be used to good purpose. Imagine or visualize what you want to have happen not what you don’t.
Plan in advance where there will be a lot of alcohol and drugs present. Perhaps you don’t want to attend? Perhaps you’ll just spend an hour or two and then leave? Hopefully you can get together with some clean and sober friends over the holidays. Try to keep a list of 10 people that you can call if you start craving and run into trouble and want to drink or use. They can remind you of all the negative things that happen and the reasons why you shouldn’t. Christmas or the holidays and New Year’s are just an excuse to drink. If you are really if you’re an alcoholic or addict, a problem drinker or drug user you need to abstain—full stop. If you weren’t a problem drinker you could probably moderate your drinking. If you do drink, rather than having one or two, it can trigger the craving for more and you could lose control once again
Was it Really that Great?
It is important not to glamorize your past drinking and drug using. Was it really that great? Or did you end up passing out? Or in a fight with your partner? Interlude with some stranger? Did you put yourself in a dangerous situation? Did you have trouble with the law? Please try to remember or some of the worst things that happened when you drank and use drugs too much. What we don’t remember we are bound to repeat. So when the craving comes you can remind yourself, not of all the all the wonderful things that you think will happen when you drink or use drugs but all the negative things, and dangerous things and scary things that happen when we drink in use drugs. You can write these negative consequences down on a note and keep it in your wallet to remind yourself when you get triggered to drink or use.
Pray and Ask for Help
Step 11 of the twelve step program is “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry it out. I believe that God wants the best for you and will help you stay clean and sober if you ask. Say a little prayer for help – Help God—is enough for him when going into a party or before you pick up the phone to call a family member. Don’t forget to thank Him for helping you and be grateful for all your blessings.
I wish you all the best over the holidays staying clean and sober. Don’t forget there are many meetings in the Lower Mainland of Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, Codependents Anonymous, and Marijuana Anonymous. Please call them anytime to get the support you need over the phone or go to a meeting. They are more than happy to help a fellow suffering alcoholic or addict. Happy Holidays!