Around Christmas time patients and former patients often ask our therapy team: “What advice would you have for people in early recovery who need to get through the festive season without relapsing?”
Christmas can be a difficult time of year for those embarking on recovery. Alcohol is present over the preceding days and on Christmas day itself, and up until New Year. Not everyone looks forward to spending time with their family, especially if there are feuds or divisions where arguments, particularly those fuelled by alcohol, can occur. It can be a lonely time of year for those without family or close friends.
Some of the advice our therapists give to patients asking about sobriety over Christmas includes:
- Avoid volatile family situations. Many people feel pressured to be with family on holidays but that can be a relapse trigger if there is a lot of drinking or there are strained relationships;
- Have a vision ‘in your mind’s eye’ of events over the festive season. Let the vision be a positive one – then watch it change if you were to drink or use drugs;
- Aim to be in a safe place over the festive season. The fellowships have dinners and dances which can protect people and let them discover that they can enjoy themselves without drink or drugs;
- Rehearse and know exactly what to say should someone say “Go on, have a drink/joint”;
- Go carolling or visit nursing homes. Take the holiday spirit to others; and whatever your budget, set a bit aside for a few presents for others. It is the thought that counts.
Page published: December 13, 2012. Page last reviewed and clinically fact-checked October 13, 2021