While the holidays are meant to be the happiest time of the year for most people, they can often be the most difficult for those recovering from addiction.

Every Thanksgiving meal and Christmas party is flowing over with holiday themed alcoholic beverages and people encouraging outrageous behavior. It can be difficult to re-learn how to interact at a social gathering without alcohol and drugs when it has, for so many years, been how you deal with social anxiety. Even something as simple as knowing what to do with your hands can prove a challenge. But knowing that may not make it easier to say no when your boss offers you an eggnog. That’s why we would like to offer a few tips that might help you through that moment so when it’s all said and done on January 2nd, you can say you’ve made it through instead of starting over.

First – make a plan. If there is a holiday party which you know will be difficult, plan to go to a meeting before and after the party. Have an escape plan if things get too overwhelming and don’t get into a situation where you are dependent on someone else for a ride. This ensures that if needed, you can leave immediately.

Another way to help avoid holiday relapse is to focus on others. Make your holidays about those around you and put your energy into them. This can be as simple as serving a meal at a homeless shelter or sitting with a neighbor who is in need.

Have a drink in your hand! This will help you avoid the constant solicitation for alcohol and help keep your hands busy. Be sure to fix your own drink or have someone you trust fix it for you. This ensures that you don’t mistakenly have a sip of alcohol. But if you do, be careful of rationalizations and tell your sponsor or trusted friend as soon as possible. A mistake is not relapse. But it can lead to one if it’s kept secret.

These are a few tips to help you manage the holidays if you are recovering. But also remember that if someone you love needs treatment, during the holidays is often the best time to seek it. Although it’s a time for loved ones to be together, it can also be a time when someone you love with addiction will make their worst mistakes.

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