While most people look forward to the holiday season as the most wonderful time of the year, it is usually the opposite for me as a recovering alcoholic. The holidays usually mean being expected to go to Thanksgiving dinners, Christmas parties, family reunions, and New Year events. In most of these parties, alcohol is always present.
There are many instances wherein I was tempted to have just one drink. Especially if it is offered to me by people who were not aware that I had a history with alcoholism.
One drink wouldn’t hurt, right? But I’ve been that road before. I know that a single drink can lead to regrettable circumstances and it would be difficult to recover from that again.
This year, I was ready.
I’ve been to many holiday parties and events to know what could trigger a relapse. I know that by being prepared and arming myself with the right tools, I can survive the holidays without alcohol. Here are some of the techniques that could help other people like me.
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I brought my own drink that I actually liked
Often times, I get tempted to have a cocktail or a glass of wine out of boredom. This is because the alternative is usually drinking water or non-alcoholic drinks that I don’t really like the taste of. And believe me, there’s nothing more frustrating than having to sip a beverage you don’t like.
I solved this problem by bringing my own drink when I attend parties that I know will last for hours. I personally love cranberry juice so I bring some with me when I attend gatherings and mix it with sparkling water and a wedge of lime for an instant mocktail. For events that are a bit more formal, I bring a bottle of alcohol-free bubbly or cider.
When I have my favorite drink with me, it helps me in a lot of ways. First, I don’t get tempted to sample the drinks at the party. Next, it prevents other guests from offering to get me alcoholic drinks as I already have a drink in my hand. Other people usually don’t realize that what I’m drinking does not have any alcohol so I don’t really feel left out.
I avoided the drama
Holidays and drama are almost always synonymous with each other. When groups of people are placed in an enclosed space after not seeing one another for a long period of time, then chances are, heated discussions and awkward situations are going to go down. This is especially common with family reunions and meeting up with friends you haven’t seen for quite some time. I know this sounds selfish but if I’m already suspicious that the party will have some uncomfortable moments where I’ll be potentially involved, I avoid it. Period. No explanations, no giving in. if I really have to go to it, I disappear at the first signs of conflict, even if it doesn’t directly involve myself. I try not to put myself in these stressful situations because if I get stressed and frustrated, this could lead to me feeling awful and potentially grabbing for a drink so self-soothe. There’s a right time for everything and if I know that I am not yet ready to deal with the drama, I steer clear of these situations because these could endanger my recovery.
Examples of uncomfortable situations are seeing your ex, toxic family members, friends you’re not okay with, or former colleagues.
I decided to be more grateful
Being in recovery made me realize that there are so many things I should be thankful for. When I was still drinking, I used to get depressed over little things. When I feel that something is not going my way, I turned to alcohol.
Now, I learned to be more thankful for what I have and what I am. One powerful quote that helped change my perspective is this:
"I cried because I had no shoes, then I met a man who had no feet."
When I read this quote, I literally was shaken. I realized that there are so many things that I complain about, gripe about, and stress about that are so trivial compared to what is happening in the world. This made me take a hard look at myself and start listing all the things that I should still be thankful for.
When I started creating this list, it gave me a more positive outlook on life. While it’s normal to feel down or upset occasionally, I always try to remember my gratitude list.
I took care of myself
A great technique that I developed whenever I’m feeling stressed out or upset is to pamper myself. Instead of using the money to buy beer or alcohol, I use the money for self-care. I go to book a massage, attend a fitness class, or treat myself to a gourmet meal.
I discovered that doing these things is much better for me physically, mentally, and emotionally. Instead of drinking alcohol which only provides momentary relief, the effects of self –care last much longer.
If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol abuse, help is available.
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