Holidays can be rough on everyone, but it always seems harder on the alcoholic trying to stay sober. There seem to be laser trip mines all over the place. Family and friends come together in unusual combinations that can provide a new level of anxiety for even the most experienced holiday veteran.
Unfortunately, when an alcoholic has anxiety, they want to drink. So, when it comes to getting through the holidays sober, nothing can seem like a bigger challenge. Everyone has been known to use social lubrication to get through those moments when you just can’t deal. There are other options; there are ways to prepare, and there are ways to survive.
Know your limits, set your boundaries, and use these few tools to get you through the thick of it.
- Give Yourself a Graceful Exit
It might sound simple, but we have all been caught at a party or gathering where we want to leave but can’t figure out a way to do it. Think of a few scenarios and ways to leave the party that won’t draw too much attention. Going into the gathering prepared with your exit excuses will make it easy when you have reached your point of tolerance. Don’t break the honesty idea, but think of real reasons why you need to get home. It can be as simple as letting the dog out, making plans for breakfast the next morning so you can’t stay too late, or even relying on public transport that gives you a specific exit time.
- Find a Buddy
This doesn’t mean bring some stranger, but find the person in your family or group of friends who can help to hold you accountable. Find the person you trust the most and who understands you. They should be your go-to person whenever things get rough. It is someone you can go to when you need to exit a situation, or who will leave with you when the time is right. This can also be your person who you are the designated driver for if you want to build that into your exit strategy. You can even bring another sober alcoholic to help you leave when you need to.
- Leave Troublesome Conversations
It is not always easy to walk away from people mid-thought, but sometimes it is what you need to do. People don’t think, and they often tell stories that can bring back hurtful memories. They may even use the holidays to confront long-standing grievances. Come up with a few phrases to gracefully exit when you need to. “I would love to get this resolved, but now is really not the time. Let’s have coffee sometime.” “I understand this still bothers you, let’s think about it and readdress it privately.” “I appreciate that you mean well with this story, but how about we tell something a little less embarrassing.” Having an arsenal will help you get where you are going.
- Don’t Be Afraid to Say No
You simply don’t have to go to every family party or do every holiday thing. If you know a particular gathering is going to be difficult, skip it this year. Make solo plans with part of the crowd. All in all, you need to be looking out for your sobriety. Limiting your exposure to alcohol can be the difference between success and failure.
During this season of giving, give to yourself. Make things easier for you by making a plan and sticking to it. Don’t let the holidays get you frazzled. Don’t worry about hurting someone’s feelings.
If you or someone you love is having problems with alcohol, please call.