There is a familiar phrase among alcoholics that is known as HALT. It is a reminder to alcoholics that they should “try to never be too Hungry, Angry, Lonely and Tired.” This is especially true during holidays such as Christmas where there is added stress to meet the expectations and desires of others. It is a time of enjoying family and friends, food, drink and merriment. For alcoholics just emerging from rehab it can be a difficult time. Staying sober during the holidays and avoiding a relapse will require a well-executed plan on the part of any recovering alcoholic. If you or a loved one is a recovering alcoholic, this is your Christmas Survival Guide. Knowing how to avoid a relapse during Christmas can help you stay on track for the New Year.
Have a Plan
First off, you must make a well-executed plan and stick as close to the advice of HALT as possible. Your plan should outline all the pitfalls of temptation, and list relapse prevention techniques that you will use if the need arises. Make plans to spend lots of time with family and friends that support your sobriety. If you have to attend parties, try to attend those that serve non-alcoholic drinks. You should also try to avoid parties where everyone is drinking alcoholic beverages excessively. If you feel tempted in any way, you must say “no” or leave the party. That is your plan and you must stick to it. Bring along a trusted friend who will help you stay strong and lead you away from temptation. In addition, don’t allow anyone to force or entice you to weaken and take a drink. After all, it is your life in the balance.
Don’t Give Up
Stay strong and committed to your recovery process and sobriety. If you are estranged from family or friends, try to join in a group sport or other activity where you can socialize and also get in some exercise too. Having a full calendar of dates and activities will keep you engaged, happy and give you something to look forward to. Try to avoid loneliness and isolation, which can bring on sadness and depression leading to a relapse. Plan ahead to be out and about as much as possible. You could go for a bike ride, run, walk, shop, visit a museum or library, go fishing, etc. The list is endless on things that you might enjoy doing and being around other people will make you feel more connected to life.
Rely on Your Faith
Depending on your faith, you may want to attend a Church Service on Christmas Eve or Day. It will give you a new experience and you might enjoy listening to the music and songs. Practice your faith always, whatever it is. Praise and thank God for a second chance at life, and seek out His guidance, peace and love. Prayer and praise will always edify you and bring you closer to God. It is God’s will that you be made whole in body, mind and spirit, so do not neglect the spiritual part of your life. Embrace it and you will see God’s plan for your life unfold.
Go to Meetings
Another way to avoid relapse during the holidays is to stay committed to your weekly visits to AA or other support group meetings. Also, keep your appointments with your counselor and discuss your plans, concerns or other matters with him. You should also stay connected to your family and friends that support your recovery. Having a strong support system is an important aspect of your recovery.
Be patient with yourself and take one day at a time. Don’t make unrealistic goals that you will be unable to meet. Learn to forgive yourself for past mistakes, and start loving and encouraging yourself with positive affirmations. Keep your focus on the goal of living a sober, productive and happy life. And remind yourself daily by speaking your goals out loud or keeping encouraging notes to yourself around the house that you can read on a regular basis. Keep your head and spirit up and you will succeed.
If you or someone you care about needs help managing their addiction during the Christmas season, call White Sands Treatment Center. Our dedicated addiction professionals can help you choose the treatment program that best suits your individual needs.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.