I think we can all attest that the holidays are one of the most difficult times for a person living in recovery. Four years in and I still struggle with this time of year. From the parties, to the dinners, to the added stress that the holidays naturally bring with it. It’s is also easy to get caught up in depression that stems from memories from past holidays, whether it be because someone is longer with us on earth or because it reminds you of an ex. The list is huge.
I have employed multiple tactics to make it through the holidays. Not all have been successful (doesn’t mean I relapsed, some just didn’t actually help in any way), but have helped me trim the list down. I have put together my top 5 ways to stay sober through the holidays, each with a relevant and thoughtful scripture to go with it. If you have other ways, please share them in the comments below the article.
Knowing that your alcoholism is always working against you, it is important to remain humble, not just this time of year, but all the time. When we lose our humility and think our sobriety is locked down tight, we let the temptation slip in without even realizing it. The next thing we are doing is drinking without thinking. Understand that recovery is a constant process and way of life. We have to be aware of our weakness and always strive to maintain our sobriety no matter how easy it may seem at any given point.
Before a downfall the heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor.
Proverbs 18:12 (NIV)
Disclose Your Addiction
One of the most important things I have found to help me in my recovery is to let someone, or everyone, know that you are in recovery. Taking this step puts this at the front of their minds and they tend to be more cognizant to your needs and struggle. I have found that this makes people think before they ask you if you want a drink, or if you will hold their drink, or sometimes even refrain from drinking right in front of you, or all together while you are in their company. I understand the anonymity part of some peoples path, but the benefits of disclosing your disease goes a long way in your path through recovery.
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)
Stay Away From H.A.L.T.
H.A.L.T. stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. It is important that we take care of yourself during times of temptation. Hunger can lead to a craving for alcohol, so make sure you stay healthy and eat if you feel hungry. If you become angry for any reason, make sure you have a plan to release that anger in a healthy positive. If you are feeling lonely, the best thing to do is call a friend or go hang out with them and take your mind off of everything else. Being tired is a big one. You need your rest to function properly. Being to tired can create a desire for a nightcap to help you sleep. Take care of yourself.
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NIV)
Volunteer Your Time
One of the most selfless things you can do during the holidays is to give your time to someone in need. It can easily take your mind off of drinking and you end up putting your faith forward and helping others. Making sure you take care of others can easily become a habit and new passion for you. I have found that volunteering at animal shelters to be one of the most spiritually fulfilling things. Taking care of God’s creatures while also taking care of myself by staying busy and keeping my mind off drinking.
And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
Hebrews 13:16 (NIV)
If all else fails and the temptation becomes to great, remove yourself from the situation if possible. Even if you don’t have a way to drive away from it all and collect yourself, just walk outside wherever you are. Take some deep breaths, remind yourself of how far you have come, and connect with God. Prayer in this alone time can have a huge impact on your strength and ability to avoid the temptation.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Psalm 23:4 (NIV)