Today is Christmas Eve, oft considered one of the most important days of the year, and marking the hump of the holiday season. By now, children are getting antsy and most adults are putting the final touches on their Christmas Day preparations; rushing to get that one last gift or heading to the supermarket to grab an ingredient they may have overlooked.
For those in recovery, days like today can be a source of stress that requires one to be on top of their program, lest they find themselves in a situation that is hard to correct. While we all want to be present for our families at Christmas time, it is vital that recovering addicts and alcoholics put their recovery before anything else. People who are not in recovery may find it strange that you depart from the festivities to meet with a sponsor or attend a 12-step meeting; that’s OK, they do not need to understand. What’s important is that people in recovery protect the strides they have made, and not digress as the result of trying to please their loved ones.
Even if you are relatively new to recovery, it is likely that you have come a long way in a short period of time. Protecting your achievements is of the utmost importance, requiring vigilance to the nth degree. Sadly, many people who fail to put their recovery before all else are vulnerable to relapse. There are a number of reasons why many people in recovery relapse during the holidays, while the external causes may vary, ultimately a holiday relapse stems from forgetting that recovery is the most important thing in life. Without recovery, addicts and alcoholics slip back to where they once were, which is usually a pretty dark place.
Putting recovery first does not mean that you can’t devote time and energy towards your family. Being present for your family is important, but it is always wise to limit your time with them, especially if your family is a source of stress that may lead you to make some bad decisions that could compromise your program. Christmas time is usually accompanied by heavy alcohol consumption that can be difficult to be around, as the day progresses people become intoxicated which is not fun to be around if you are sober. Around that time, if you have not already said your goodbyes, it’s probably best to depart and get yourself to a meeting.
Meetings are the safest place you can be during a holiday, especially if you are new to the program. Fortunately, meetings will likely be held all throughout the day, so there is never an excuse for being unable to attend at least one. Some people may find that they need more than just one meeting, that’s fine. What’s more, being around people who have the same goal of recovery is comforting, and gives you the sense of being part of a community that is staying clean and sober with the help of one another.
At Design for Change, we would like to wish everyone and particularly those in recovery a Safe, Sober and Merry Christmas.