Planning Recovery During the Holidays

Submitted by Ron on December 19th, 2009

This feature was written by Hamish White a certified alcoholism and drug dependency counselor who has his own addiction practice called Recovery Counseling Services in North Toronto. Hamish and his team provide out-patient individual and group counseling to adolescents adults and family members.

Plan B

If you must attend a party or gathering where alcohol is being served, then have a Plan B, an escape route.  If you are with a friend or partner then tell them before you go that you may feel uncomfortable around alcohol and that you need to be able to leave the party on a moment’s notice without having to explain why.  In fact, you can always have an alternative place to go – like for a coffee or out to a movie.  The Pressure Is Off With this arrangement, negotiated when you arrive at the gathering, tell your host or hosts that you can probably only stay for a short time, but that you will know more in a while after you make a telephone call. Then you are not obliged to stay and what usually happens is that you have a great time because the pressure to stay is off. If you are on your own, make sure you have your sponsor’s or a sober friend’s phone number and that you know they will be home so that you can call or even meet with them if you feel the need.

That’s “Plan B.” Thanks I’d Love a Drink! What if someone asks you if you would like a drink, and you don’t particularly feel like explaining to them that you have a disease that requires you not to drink one day at a time, and that you are a recent graduate of the local dipsomania treatment center.  What I do is say “What a good idea I would love a drink! Do you have a soda-water with lemon or a Coca-Cola?” This allows me to say yes and get what I want as well. Very few people will press anything alcoholic on us, but when they do I simply say, “Not right now, thank you, but a Coke would really hit the spot.” Stay away from Christmas cake rum balls and dubious punches and eggnog. Just a little of the old taste can start us urging for a more substantial dose.

A.A./ N.A/O.A Still Meets! During the celebratory season,

In fact, many groups have seasonal parties where food and fellowship abounds, and speakers talk of gratitude and of the real spirit of giving that is outlined in the 12th Step. Members are warm and inviting and most are serene in the knowledge that there is a safe place for them to be. Anyone with a desire to stop drinking or to stay sober and clean is welcome. Out-Smart the Disease Remember, alcoholism and addiction are not only physical diseases, they are also spiritual emotional and mental diseases. Which, of course, is what we are as people. My alcoholism is as smart as I am and then just a little bit smarter. My alcoholism wants me to drink, therefore it wants me to be in slippery places like wet Christmas or New Year parties. I have to be careful – I have to outsmart my disease. I need to be connected to sober people. I need to be doing sober things, going to sober places. I can’t let the Christmas season be an excuse for a relapse. I may be on holiday but my chemical dependency does not take a holiday. Ultimately, the only way to say sober over the holidays is the same way I stay sober all year round, that is, one day at a time.

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