By Laine McKenna -
For most people, the holidays are a time of joy and celebration. For those suffering from alcoholism, though, they’re an inevitable, unavoidable, dreaded situation. Even recovering alcoholics who have been sober for 10+ years still get anxious at the thought of being in the presence of their own personal poison. One sip and it can all come crashing down.
This is often why some people suffering from alcoholism avoid social situations during the holidays. Interestingly enough, others feel even more vulnerable this time of the year when they’re alone and feeling at the mercy of their cravings. So how is it that a person who is struggling with alcoholism can get through the holidays and actually enjoy them?
First and foremost, it’s important to remember that alcoholism is not something you are ever fully “healed” from. Sobriety is a day-to-day recommitment you must make with yourself for the rest of your life. With that said, daily reaffirmations are huge. Each day you wake up, you should look in the mirror, and vow to maintain sobriety throughout the day, no matter how difficult the cravings may be. This is called self-intentionalizing and can be done not just once but multiple times a day as a way of declaring your personal goals and vowing to achieve them.
Just as self-intentionalizing is a way of being personally accountable to yourself, having the support of a loved one who can keep you accountable can work wonders. This should be someone very close to you who understands your personal battle with alcoholism and won’t hesitate to quietly intervene. This can be a sister, brother, or a best friend, but preferably someone you can call at any time to help you. You can even have multiple people to help you with this. If you’re going to a holiday party, ask this person to accompany you. You may feel like a burden for asking people to take time out of their day to help you, and you certainly shouldn’t latch yourself onto a person (we all have lives), but you’ll be amazed at how many people are willing to help you through these especially tough times.
Power of Resistance
It may not seem like it at first, but each time you say “no” to the urges to drink you are building endurance. You are regaining control. You are reclaiming power that the alcohol has possessed over you. And the more you say “no,” the easier it gets to keep doing it. You’ll gain momentum in your quest for sobriety and you’ll gain self confidence knowing that you can resist these cravings in the future.
Don’t Put Yourself in “Harm’s Way”
Just as you wouldn’t stand close to a fire wearing a flannel or wool shirt, you should not put yourself in situations where you’re in close proximity to alcohol at a party. If it’s in the kitchen or back fridge, stay in the living room or family room. Mingle with guests on the couch, go out back for some fresh air. Keep a glass or bottle of water with you at all times. Take deep breaths. Chew gum if you have to. See if there’s a football game you can watch on TV with the other guests. See if the host or hostess would like you to lead the group in a board game or gift exchange. The key is shifting your attention before the cravings arise and not making the alcohol a focus.