Holiday Season Greetings! It’s me, Glenda Calvert and I have loved working at McDougall House as an Addictions Counsellor since I started in 2000. Over the last 22 years, I have seen many changes in the addiction field, but one thing that has remained constant is the added emotions and stress that the month of December can bring to a woman’s recovery – especially in anticipation of the holiday season.
For many families out there, the holidays can be one of the most stressful times of year that includes distress, conflict, and even overindulgent behaviours that later turn into regrets. This stress can be even more intensified especially for families that have members that are actively abusing drugs and/or alcohol or are in addiction recovery. For these particular families, the thought of managing alcohol or drug addiction issues while maintaining the peace can be emotionally overpowering—and not being able to handle these issues can lead to further separation from the active user or a relapse for the person in recovery.
Many family members assume that once you are in addiction recovery that you will become happy and blissful – when in reality, you are struggling and trying to cope without drugs or alcohol during the holidays for what may be the first time.
One of the most stressful components during the holidays surrounds the issue of drinking. Alcohol consumption increases to 41% during this time of year. This is definitely stressful for a woman in recovery because alcohol tends to be a central part of these celebrations.
Whether you have had many holiday celebrations in recovery, or if this one will be your first, here are some useful tips to maintain your recovery or if you are trying to get back on track:
You need to assemble a “recovery kit” you can take with you before joining your family for holiday celebrations. This kit would include contact information for your sponsor, counsellor, and other recovery supports. If you are travelling out of town, you need to bring reading material, whether it is AA’s Big Book, a journal, or other books that help relieve stress. You can attend support meetings available at your destination – look these up ahead of time.
If you plan on attending holiday parties, you may need to consider arriving early and leaving early. Most alcohol and drug use becomes more common as the party carries on. You must not worry that an early departure will offend the host. Your sobriety is more important.
Bring your own beverages to holiday parties. This will allow you to have more control over what you drink and not fall victim to other people’s attempts to spike beverages with alcohol or drugs as a joke. Unfortunately, many people may not take the importance of recovery seriously. For them, it’s no big deal, for you, it can be a matter of life or death.
If the situation arises at a family gathering where an argument takes place or you feel pressure from relatives to drink or use and you feel tempted, you need to take corrective action as quickly as possible. Plan this out beforehand.
And to one and all, my best wishes for a marvellous New Year 2022!
Please call the McDougall House office at 780-426-1409 as we’d love to hear from you!