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As a recovering drug addict and alcoholic, Halloween was often like the “Superbowl” for my addiction. What better excuse to dress up like a fool, crash college parties, and slurp down orange jello shots all night? Halloween, on a college campus, is a well-known night for wild partying and is even expected in some places. While for a non-alcoholic, this may be acceptable for a young adult, my love for Halloween went beyond candy, costumes, and alcohol; crossing the line from wild fun into a desperate attempt to escape my own dark reality.
Holiday parties without liquid spirits may still seem like a dreary prospect to people newly sober. However, many of us have enjoyed the happiest holidays of our lives sober, an idea we previously thought impossible. Here are some tips for having an all-around ball without a single drop of alcohol.
- Line up extra recovery activities for the holiday season. Most 12 step, religious, and recovery organizations have a bounty of holiday events just for this purpose.
- Be host to sober friends, especially people newly sober. If you don’t have a place where you can throw a formal party, take a friend out for coffee or dinner.
- Keep a phone list nearby of recovery resources; sober friends, help hotlines, treatment centers, sponsors etc. If a drinking urge or panic comes, stop everything and make a call, it could save your life.
- Find out about holiday parties and celebrations in your area that do not involve alcohol and drugs. There are plenty of ‘family friendly’ events in every town that do not require alcohol to enjoy.
- Skip any drinking occasion you are nervous about. Remember how clever you were at excuses when drinking? Now put the talent to good use. No office party is as important as staying sober.
- If you have to go to a drinking party, try to take a sober friend with you or keep your recovery phone number nearby.
- If you start feeling tempted at a party or by others drinking, do not be afraid to leave early. Plan in advance an ‘important date’ you have to keep.
- Worship in your own way. The holidays are a time of spirituality. Expand your spirituality, however that looks to you.
- Don’t sit around brooding. Catch up on those books, exercise, hobbies, and other self-care activities.
- Don’t start now getting worked up about all those holiday temptations. Remember, “one day at a time.”
- Enjoy the true beauty of holiday love and joy. Maybe you cannot give material gifts, but you can always give love.
- If you have a healthy relationship with your family, try and spend some quality time together. If you are not on good terms with family, the holidays are a great time for forgiveness and repairing relationships.
Format and basic ideas borrowed from Alcoholics Anonymous Winter 2012 Newsletter.