When you get sober, it isn’t always going to be something you share with everyone around you. In some cases, you may end up remaining with or meeting a new partner who still chooses to drink and has no interest in living a dry lifestyle. The disconnect between lifestyles can become an issue, especially during the holidays. For many, the holiday season is a time for imbibing with family and friends. However, holiday drinking can be very triggering for someone in recovery. It can be even more difficult if you don’t have solidarity from your partner. Here are a few tips to ensure a festive and supportive dry holiday season.
Many people struggling with substance abuse get accustomed to hiding it, especially from their partner. However, one of the most critical sobriety changes must be clear, open communication between you and your partner. You should be clear about your goals and how you want to accomplish them.
You went through the challenge of addiction treatment, so setting proper boundaries is extremely important for keeping your sobriety. For example, if attending fewer holiday parties is essential for your sobriety, you must clarify this with your partner. If going to parties without your partner or spouse is going to be too difficult for you, this is a meaningful conversation to have as well.
Remember that your holiday boundaries are not set in stone. If last year you stated you would be willing to go to parties if your partner attended but found it to be too difficult, it is perfectly acceptable to change your mind. What is most important is communicating this to your partner and why you have changed your mind.
Focus On Triggers
A trigger reminds you of drinking or makes you want to drink. The holidays can be an extremely stressful and triggering time for someone who is trying to avoid alcohol. Many things can trigger someone to relapse, including conversations with relatives, atmospheres like holiday parties, and an environment where everyone drinks alcohol. You may chat with family members you don’t haven’t seen in some time. Depending on your relationship, awkward or uncomfortable conversations could easily trigger a relapse.
Before attending any holiday gatherings or events, identify what triggers you the most and the likelihood of encountering that scenario. Some people reach a point where they don’t mind being around alcohol anymore. However, if you are early on in your sobriety, you may want to be more cautious of these situations.
Ask About Sober Activities
Part of your recovery is about learning to have fun in the absence of alcohol, and this can be wonderful for other people in your life. Some of your family and friends may welcome a dry holiday. If you’re planning to attend a family event with activities not centered around drinking, ask if they would be willing to host a sober holiday.
For some people, this is a big ask. However, it is also an incredible way for everyone to support you. If you don’t feel comfortable asking your family or friends, your partner may be willing to ask for you. You can offer sober holiday traditions that can continue in the coming years. This way, you can guarantee that part of the day won’t have alcohol at the focus.
Planning is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. A sober or dry holiday plan can help relieve your stress about upcoming events. If you will attend a holiday event with your partner, walk through scenarios with them. When your partner helps with the plan and knows what to look out for, you both know what to do if things aren’t going well.
One of the best things you can do is prepare your answer whenever someone offers you an alcoholic drink or questions your sobriety. Develop a script to get your point across while also shutting down any negative comments that could follow. Your planned and practiced response will also help you gain confidence about attending the event, so you feel more prepared to face anything that could come up.
If you feel extra nervous about the event, plan to attend a meeting beforehand. You can also ask someone else who is sober to come along, especially if your partner intends to drink. A sober friend can be a helpful resource to confide in and reduce how out of place you feel. Having someone there who understands the importance of sobriety will also help keep you accountable.
Although the holidays are not entirely about you, it is essential to remember that this is a time of year when you may need to focus a little more on yourself. If your partner is supportive of your sobriety, they will understand that you might need to be a little more selfish about where you go and who you are around at this time. The holidays are a busy time of the year, and it can be very easy to lose sight of self-care.
Our therapists can help you and your partner address recovery communication and repair. If you are ready to schedule an appointment and live in Arizona, North Carolina, South Carolina, or Texas, we can help. Contact us to get started.
Jenn Walker is a freelance writer, blogger, dog enthusiast, and avid beach goer operating out of Southern New Jersey.