At Hope by The Sea, we try to make a point to discuss the holiday season. The reason for this is simple, holidays can be a serious trigger for people working a program of recovery. Veterans Day was last week, and Thanksgiving is a week from today—officially kicking off the 2016 holiday season. Normally, we write about a particular holiday the day of or the day before. Discussing tips and techniques for navigating the turbulent waters of the holidays, avoiding triggers and snares as much as possible to ensure one’s recovery is not jeopardized. This year, we decided to take a different approach, writing about recovery over a holiday the week before.
The hope is that we can reach people early on who may be new to the program. Explaining the recovery “do’s and don’ts” over the holiday far in advance could make all the difference for some people, and potentially help someone help themselves refrain from using a drink or drug next Thursday.
During the course of a holiday it can be easy for someone to forget that their recovery must always come first, despite the powerful urge to attend holiday festivities with friends and family who are likely not working a program. That is not to say that you can’t attend Thanksgiving dinner at your family’s home. But rather, if you have plans to attend something that is not organized or hosted by someone in recovery, there is a good chance that you’ll exposed to alcohol. If you have a sponsor, they will probably advise you to bring a friend from the program with you. If the gathering becomes trying, you will be able to express how you are feeling with someone who understands.
With Thanksgiving just a week away, you have ample time to plan your day. Deciding which meeting(s) you will attend and practice setting boundaries so when your Uncle offers you a beer, you will know how to best respectfully decline. Most people who do not have a history of addiction, struggle to wrap their head around why someone can’t just drink like a normal person. It is not their fault, but it can be a potentially harmful to your program. When enough people offer you a drink, you may find yourself saying, “What’s the big deal? I can have one beer without getting out of control.” It is a line of thinking that has cost many men and women their recovery.
On Thanksgiving Day, whether you are traveling or not, it is vital that you have an airtight plan. Have your cell phone charged at all times, so that you can reach out to your sponsor or support circle peers. You may also have to take calls from people who are struggling them self, and need guidance. Recovery is about reciprocation, if you are not able to be there for others who are in need, you end up sacrificing the solid foundation of your own recovery.
If you can, make sure you make it to your home-group on Thanksgiving. It cannot be over-stressed how important being present is to your recovery. We hope that everyone has a solid plan in place for next Thursday, to better ensure that you will be able to stay clean and sober. In closing, we would like everyone to remember that you can keep your recovery intact and have a good time over the holiday.
“…But we aren’t a glum lot. If newcomers could see no joy or fun in our existence, they wouldn’t want it. We absolutely insist on enjoying life.” (The Big Book Of Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 132)