Anyone who has worked a program of recovery for some time knows first-hand that holidays can be difficult. Particularly for people who are new to the program. Holidays are about many things, but there is a common theme among most of them—alcohol. More people get DUI’s around the holidays than any other time of the year. Regarding people working a program of addiction recovery, relapse is quite common around major holidays.
Even those with significant recovery time can find it difficult to navigate around the triggers that holidays elicit. So, it stands to reason that “newcomers” will have an even harder time. Making it through a normal day in recovery can be a real challenge. But, during the holidays there are a multitude of parties taking place in neighborhoods around the country. And it is likely that in early recovery you will be invited to some of them.
Attending such events without drinking or drugging is possible. However, it is strongly suggested that people in early recovery talk to their sponsor or a recovery peer before attending such gatherings. After such a discussion, you may come to realize that attending may be more of risk than it is worth.
Navigating Holidays In Early Recovery
For those who are just out of residential treatment, or an active participant in an intensive outpatient center, being around heavy drinking is never wise. It takes time for people to build a strong foundation in recovery, one that can support walls strong enough to repel triggers. Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean it is conducive to your recovery.
With the 4th of July on the horizon it is important that you be truthful with yourself about your recovery. If you are in your first year, or have not worked all the steps for example, it is probably wise to steer clear of event with heavy alcohol consumption. If there is an event that you “must” attend, protect yourself. Ask a friend in the program to accompany you. If you can’t find someone, which would be unlikely given the fellowship, be sure to show up late and leave early. Check in regularly with your sponsor, or another friend in the program. There is a good chance that you will want to leave after a short time, failing to see the appeal of being sober around drunk friends and family.
Meetings and Having Fun In Recovery…
Please keep in mind that there are a number of recovery-centered events that take place on major holidays, like Independence Day. Your meeting house, or one in your area might be celebrating with a recovery barbecue or maybe even a dance. It might be hard, at this point in your recovery, to see how that could be fun, but rest assured it can be a lot of fun. Recovery is about more than just not drinking or drugging, no matter what. On page 132 of The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous it reads:
“We have been speaking to you of serious, sometimes tragic things. We have been dealing with alcohol in its worst aspect. 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.”
On the 4th of July, attend a meeting or more than one for that matter. On every major holiday, there are meetings happening around the clock because these are difficult times. You might want to consider branching out and going to meetings you have not been to before. If you follow your meetings up with an event, you are bound to surprise yourself by having a good time. At Guardian IOP, we hope that everyone working a program of recovery has a safe, sober and fun holiday. And please remember, do not drink or drug no matter what—it isn’t worth it.
Reviewed for accuracy by:
Anna Marie Barrett LCSW, CYT
Anna earned her Masters of Social Work at Barry University in Miami, FL in 2017 and completed her internship in co-occurring disorders. Anna has a Bachelors of Art in Religious Studies from Naropa University and is a certified yoga and meditation instructor. Anna has received specialized training in somatic counseling with an emphasis on body-centered psychotherapy.