If this is your first sober Christmas season in years, you may have been feeling the buzz of excitement surrounding the impending holidays in a more noticeable way than usual. Christmas music, lights, packed malls, excited kids, aggressive shoppers, self-centered drivers – you know the drill.

Not only can the faster pace get to you, but so can the sentimental side of the holidays. In fact, the sentimentality of it all can evoke feelings which can be uncomfortable. Sadness. Grief. Resentments. Keeping your guard up for potential relapse triggers is never more important than the coming weeks.

With this in mind, Perspectives randomly asked 12 Edgewood alumnus to give us some of their top strategies for getting through the holidays in one piece, sobriety date intact.

  1. Bev C. Sobriety date: November 25, 1997

Go to plenty of meetings. That is exactly what I would tell them. You’ve got to keep it simple this time of year.

  1. Ben O. Sobriety date: March 21, 2008

If a sponsee phoned this morning and asked about this season, I would tell him that I heard from an old timer at a meeting, ‘I’ve never seen a grateful person take a drink.’ So, find something every day to be grateful for, something that you actually connect to, not something that just rolls off the tongue and is easy lip service. Something real. Share it with someone, if it helps.

  1. Chelsea P. Sobriety date: August 20, 2011

Other than lots of meetings, I would suggest a new sponsee connect with lots of other women in recovery, and especially those with longer-term sobriety. If she was staying in Nanaimo and not going home, I would also suggest she find other women in the same boat as her. Girls that can relate to the feelings of not going home to their families over the holiday. If they are Edgewood alumni, they could participate in the awesome festive events there. I would probably also suggest some service work, and not just restrictive to A.A.. There are a lot of organizations that need help over the season, and helping others is always a good idea. And I’m a big fan of talking to my sponsees about the four quadrants – so, what can they do today that feeds each quadrant — emotional, spiritual, physical, mental — in order to feel whole?

And I think it’s okay to keep it simple. The basics of taking it one day at a time can be really helpful at what can be a very stressful and hard time of year for a lot of people. Oh, and, of course, reach out to their sponsor.

  1. Sheila B. Sobriety date: October 5, 2012

I wouldn’t sugar coat it – I would tell them it’s gonna be tough – then encourage them to look for the laughs, or at least the smiles, in every day. Even if it is a little dark or sarcastic, or the absurdity of the commercialism – or even Trump. To binge-watch comedy on Netflix. Offer them my account if they don’t have one. And, of course, use your call list and go to lots of meetings.

  1. Norm G. Sobriety date: June 7, 2010

Have an escape plan for quick exit from family and all other Christmas parties you may attend, if the drinking should trigger you. Or simply stay away and do Christmas with family during quiet times when alcohol is not being served.

  1. Paulette C-C. Sobriety date: August 27, 2007

If this is your first Christmas, take your own vehicle so you have an out. And take an A.A. buddy with you for support. If you can’t trust yourself, stay out of slippery places, for goodness sakes. Don’t put yourself in that position. Remember, it’s one day at a time, no more, no less. Christmas is just another day.

  1. Graeme O. Sobriety date: June 5, 2016

My advice for getting through the holidays unscathed is to embrace it. For me, part of recovery has been changing my attitudes completely. I had long carried an unhealthy resentment towards the Christmas season for making me feel inadequate when I got together with family and friends while I was still drinking. It was forced socializing. Since I’ve been in Nanaimo for the last few Christmases, I’ve found that attending a lot of meetings – especially events like Alcathons over Christmas Eve and Day, make the holidays really fun instead of a period to dread. I stayed close to other friends in recovery during the Christmas season and did festive holiday stuff with them, including Christmas dinner. Before I knew it, the season was over and I had a great time. This year, I will spend my first Christmas in four years with my family, so we’ll see how that goes. In short, stay connected at all times. Don’t say no to recovery Christmas events. Pretend to like Christmas events until it comes true. Fight against your previously held attitudes and beliefs.

  1. Brent W. Sobriety date: August 25, 2010

I guess the one piece of advice I would give to the newcomer in the festive season would be to surround yourself with like-minded people in the program. Reach out and share, share, share!

  1. Ann S. Sobriety date: April 28, 2005

Go to meetings, yes – but also change the routines. Have an emergency plan. If it’s my sponsee, I would make sure she had my number and could call at anytime. Steal into a room and call when she’s losing it. Usually there are people – new people – getting sober who can all stick together and go to meetings as a little crew over Christmas.

There are usually meet-athons and gratitude dinners at home groups. But, overall, if you have those two or three members who are on speed dial, you’re gonna be okay.

If your family is good, stick with them and make up for all the shitty Christmases by being present and doing the dishes. If they are drinkers, maybe go for one event and let them know you need to be at meetings the rest of the time.

Also, I had a sponsee who brought a sober buddy to her family Christmas. She was helping this newcomer who had no family in town, but also [helping] herself.

Finally: Be gentle, this is a first.

  1. Blaine N. Sobriety date: March 2, 2007

At Christmas time, I spend a lot of time with sponsees and family. It is common to have at least one sponsee at my place for Christmas dinner. I keep myself surrounded by people in recovery, and always have an exit plan when my uncles start to get into the sauce. That’s usually when me and the kiddos head out. My suggestion to a newcomer is to talk on the phone lots. Stay active in service positions. Spend time at the local Alcathon – especially in early recovery. It helps when those feelings come up. And the fellowship is awesome.

  1. Tyler J. Sobriety date: December 14, 2003

Well, if you are in early recovery, maybe your first year, I’d sat hit lots of meetings and those Christmas social recovery events. Stay with safe people, and have fun! Treat Christmas with the excitement that you did as a child. If you are in later recovery, say six months to infinity, do some service work! Recovery or community – as long as you’re helping someone else. It always makes me feel grateful being able to enrich someone else’s life in some small way. Feeling grateful helps me to enjoy the true spirit of the holiday season.

  1. Fiona S.  Sobriety date: August 28, 2012

My best advice would be take care of yourself first. Don’t beat yourself up if you’re not up for doing the same things you’ve done in previous years. Your recovery and mental health are more important than pleasing other people.

Posted from Edgewood Treatment Centre’s December 2017 Newsletter 


Merry Christmas and a Sober New Year

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