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The Counseling Center

Staying Clean During the Holidays

By: John Brown, Chemical Dependency Counselor Assistant and Ohio Certified Prevention Specialist Assistant

It’s that time again – great food, family, and friends. Sounds like fun, right? For many struggling with addiction, the holidays can be very stressful. Instead of feeling peace on earth, you may feel anxiety, sadness, regret, or depression. Lurking amongst the holly and turkey are numerous threats to your sobriety. Between family stress, financial strain, travel plans, and unrealistic expectations lie many factors that could trigger a craving.

Here are six tips to help you have a happy, healthy, and sober holiday season!

Plan, Plan, and Plan Some More!

Knowing the road ahead and planning some strategies for dealing with them is essential. Attending 12-step meetings before and after parties, dinners, and events is a good rule of thumb. Arrange a “buddy system” with your sponsor or sober friend, so you have someone to call or leave with if things get hairy. You are anticipating some of the challenges you might encounter, and putting a strategy helps you get ahead of the ball.

Exit Strategies are Essential

Having an exit strategy or limiting your time in a difficult situation is necessary. This is one sure way to avoid being left depending on an unreliable friend or family member for a ride home. Whether you find yourself at a party or a toxic family member’s house, ensure there is always a way out. 

Phone a Friend

Friends are like lifelines, literally! Talking to a trusted friend or sponsor can be a lifesaver if you are in a stressful situation. If necessary, arrange a network of people you can call if you need additional support. Hearing a familiar voice or someone who will listen to you vent can make all the difference in the world. 

Be Choosy

It would be wonderful to see everyone, but you must remember that you are under no obligation to attend everything. Make a list of the events you want to attend that are vitally important. There is no need to exhaust yourself by trying to go to every party to please others. Remember, everyone is expected to have a busy holiday schedule so that you won’t offend anybody!

Create New Traditions

The old you would be partying hard this time of year, but the new, sober you need to find other ways to pass the times. Selfless acts have been shown to stimulate the brain’s pleasure centers the same way as drugs and alcohol. With that said, the holidays are also the best time of year for volunteering. Instead of attending a party, you could be helping at a local soup kitchen, singing carols at a hospital, or finding another way to make someone else’s holidays merry! If that’s not you, go ice skating, see a movie, or plan a trip. It’s time to make new traditions that make holidays wonderful for the new you!

Remind Yourself Why You’re Sober

Stay focused on why you are clean and sober. Think about why you decided to get clean in the first place. Think about all the benefits of living clean and why you have stuck with recovery. Write down a list of reasons you are sober and want to stay that way and keep them on you. If you feel uncomfortable, step out or into a room or bathroom and remind yourself of the reasons to say “no.”

Each holiday season, millions of addicts successfully maintain their sobriety by having a plan in place to avoid and manage triggers. Here at The Counseling Center, Inc.” we believe in miracles,” and we believe in you! Happy Holidays from our family to yours!

We encourage you to follow us on Facebook and Instagram as we continue to share our thoughts and practices in the business of Mental Healthcare. If you or someone you love is in need of behavioral treatment of any kind–reach us at 740.354.6685 or 24/7 on the Crisis Hotline 740.354.1010.

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The Counseling Center is the region’s leader in behavioral healthcare. Our licensed behavioral and primary healthcare providers employ advanced treatments to help our patients achieve long-term mental and physical health goals. We are leading the way in shaping positive outcomes for mental health, substance use disorder, physical health, and recovery housing.

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