Addiction and navigating the holidays


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – Addiction is all around us, it affects men, women, people of all incomes and backgrounds. And navigating the holidays can be difficult. Today we’re sitting down with Rae Green from Sanford Addiction Treatment Centers.

>>> Take a look in the video above.

Tips to Welcome the Sober Holidays

1. Anticipate Triggers

Right now, before the tinsel and the toasts, think about some of the things that might be threats to your sobriety this holiday season. Plan how you intend to manage those situations. If the annual boat parade is always a booze-cruise, you may want to give it a pass this year. And if your mother/sister/uncle gets on your last nerve, plan your answers to their probing questions and your exit strategy.

2. Establish Sober Holiday Boundaries

There is nothing wrong with arriving early and leaving early. In fact, it is a good policy for those new to recovery. Especially in an environment that taxes your recovery plan. It is always prudent to have a sober friend on the ready  to call for advice or a ride home. This will be my 6th sober holiday season, but my loved ones know that when I say it’s time to go, it is time to go.

3. Take Care of Yourself (and your Recovery)

The holidays can be exhausting, expensive and stressful. Take the time this sober holiday to meditate, exercise, sleep and eat.

4. Manage Family Stressors and “Traditions”

Does your family toast with eggnog before Christmas dinner? Or do your family/friends meet for a cocktail at the local pub while the turkey is cooking? The traditional family get-together may be located somewhere you associate with your drug of choice. Let’s face it, you love them but families can push every button. This is the year to set boundaries and enjoy the holidays on your terms. You might feel “left out” or lonely if you have to bow out of a family gathering that feels too risky. Fill the time with a long walk or a movie  something you love to do.

5. Plan your Answer to Inquiring Minds

Miss Manners says it best. “The gracious manner of declining food or drink is, “No, thank you,” and the gracious, not to say decent, response is to let it go at that.” If you are nervous about what to say when someone asks if you’d like an alcoholic drink this sober holiday season, don’t be. It is no one’s business but yours why you requested club soda. If you feel more comfortable saying you are the designated driver (or a person in long term recovery), fine.

6. Address PAWS and SAD (if Appropriate)

Recovery during the holidays can be tough. And if you experience Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD) when the weather gets bleak, acknowledge that fact. Get the proper professional help. Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) is a group of symptoms that occurs as a result of abstinence from addictive chemicals. If you’re new to recovery, PAWS can impact sleep, concentration, coordination, memory and emotional reactions. Healthy food, regular schedule and loved ones who are educated about the disease of addiction are key to managing PAWS during the sober holiday season.

7. Maintain your Recovery Routine

This is important. There are so many demands on your time during the holidays you might be tempted to miss a 12-step meeting, relapse prevention class or cancel your recovery hike. But the best thing you can do is to keep on a schedule, maintain connectedness and foster your recovery routine.

8. The holidays come but once a year

Quit pushing yourself. It’s unrealistic to expect to soldier through every trying moment. Instead, ask for extra support. Plan ahead. Do what you’re able (and leave the rest).

9. And your Therapeutic Alliance or Addiction Treatment

Rely on your therapist to help you through the pitfalls and triggers of the sober holidays. And if you decide to make the commitment to addiction treatment during the holidays, good for you. The best gift you could give your loved ones is your commitment to getting healthy during the holidays. The clinical team at Sanford Addiction Treatment Centers understands that the holiday season can bring about additional stressors that require specific interventions and careful response. The Sanford team provides individualized treatment programming that recognizes the potential barriers of being in treatment during the holiday season

10. Have Fun!!!

You may be tempted to join the children’s table if your adult loved ones are in the “party” mood. And with your clarity of mind you will definitely win the Scrabble tournament. Sober holidays are tailor made for good old fashioned fun. If things get stuffy, head outside for a walk or go for a short drive to clear your head. But take the time to stop and think about your life giving recovery. And have fun.

About Sanford Addiction Treatment Centers

Sanford Addiction Treatment Centers is unique within the state of Michigan, particularly in the West Michigan area.

Highly innovative, offering both residential and outpatient services.

Treatment and therapy led by specialized clinicians and licensed counselors.

Homelike environment, gender specific, and continuum of care.

Special consideration for the holidays  in treatment; triggers for those in recovery.

Sanford offers individualized recovery programs that include residential, day programs and outpatient programs as well as a continuum of group curriculums specific to different underlying issues (trauma, family).

Sanford House Grand Rapids

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