The holiday season is upon us and you are doing your best to make it through while staying sober. New Years Eve can be especially difficult, as most parties will be filled with alcohol-fueled revelers. Like you’ve been doing so far, bring your own favorite non-alcoholic drink just in case the host doesn’t have anything, and to keep satisfied so you don’t feel like your missing out. If you are really worried, arrive late and leave early so you make an appearance but have time to break down or feel pressure to drink.
So you’ve made it this far and are now wondering how you are going to continue sobriety in 2014 and beyond. It can seem overwhelming but as you know, is doable. To avoid relapse, many specialists in the field suggest the following tips:
1. Surround yourself with supportive people who care about your welfare and will help keep you accountable.
2. Continue going to AA meetings and if you travel, plan ahead by figuring out where they are in the city you are visiting.
3. Try to avoid hanging out with friends that partake and/or situations in which drugs and alcohol are readily available.
4. Take care of yourself. Be aware of how you are feeling and take action before you get too hungry, thirsty, lonely, depressed or stressed. Realize that you are working on a huge goal and reduce the amount of responsibilities you have undertaken if they are causing guilt or anxiety.
5. Know your limitations. If you are going to be in a situation that reminds you of your days of drinking and/or creates too much pressure, make a plan to leave early. Don’t put yourself in a situation in which you feel helpless.
6. Create and maintain healthy habits. Start jogging, join a gym, and take long walks or whatever you enjoy. Exercise increases endorphins that make you feel good, and once you start seeing a change in your body, will lift your spirits! It can also replace the time that you were filling with alcohol.
7. Avoid boredom and isolation. This can contribute to high-risk feelings like sadness, pity and self-doubt that can spiral you to relapse. Get out and volunteer, join a club that interests you, go to church or temple, or take classes.
8. Learn forgiveness and let go of your anger and resentments. Taking anger management classes can help you to learn how to implement this.
9. Continue to work on and resolve emotional issues with a trained psychotherapist one on one, or in a group setting.
10. Make a list of pros and cons of drinking. If you are feeling like you are ready to just have “one” drink, write down your memories of the good and the bad. The cons side will help you remember why you stopped to begin with. If you are still not sure, try taking an alcohol education class to learn what alcohol does to your mind and body in the short and long-terms.
It is possible to enjoy life and have fun while clean and sober. Once you do, you will begin to notice that you are not alone and more people than you thought are doing the same exact thing. You will find yourself engaging in more interesting conversations and actually remembering them! You will feel healthier and more energized. Lastly, you will find that your personal relationships will improve providing a more fulfilling life.