shutterstock_695729431_MyxDO1r.jpeg (shutterstock_695729431.webp)The end-of-year holidays are some of the most popular, most well-loved holidays we have. Whether you observe Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, a combination, or even just New Year, these holidays are meant to bring us together in celebration. However, that doesn’t mean the holiday season is always fun; the holidays can be stressful for everyone, but especially those recovering from a substance use disorder. We’ve put together this list of tips to help you navigate your way through these celebrations while staying clean and sober.

Plan Ahead

When going to any gatherings this holiday season, make sure to arrive early, leave early, and if possible, bring your car. Being in control of your transportation can give you the freedom to leave as soon as you would like to. If you don’t own a vehicle or otherwise don’t drive, it may also be helpful to bring a trusted friend or family member who can get you there, stay sober with you and act as emotional support during the event, and get you home when you’re ready to go.

You should also build some self-care into your schedule before and after these events. During this season of giving, don’t forget to give a bit to yourself, too. Treat yourself to a yoga class, a massage, meditation, or a bath with a nice bath bomb—whatever helps you feel relaxed and rejuvenated!

Know Your Limits

As part of your recovery, it’s important to learn what your triggers are. Triggers are things that remind you of your addiction and make it harder to avoid relapsing. They can be many different kinds of things, including substances, people, places, actions, songs, feelings, and others. If you’re early in your recovery, avoiding these triggers might be for the best. For instance, if you’re invited to a party where you know people will be drinking, it might be for the best to not attend.

Similarly, remember that at the end of the day, holiday gatherings are optional. If your family gets together every year for Thanksgiving, but you have an uncle who won’t stop talking politics or an aunt who has too many questions and judgments about what you’ve been up to, know that you can sit those gatherings out if they’re going to be harmful to your recovery. Stress can drive us to relapse, so this holiday season, try to surround yourself with only supportive, close family members and friends whenever possible. But, if you do have to go to that big family gathering for whatever reason, make sure a buddy knows to help drag you away from any uncomfortable conversation.

Celebrate the Season

The holidays can be difficult, but holiday parties can be particularly difficult for those recovering from a substance use disorder. If parties aren’t going to work for you this year, know that there are lots of other ways you can celebrate. For instance, you could try starting some new traditions as you navigate and celebrate this new chapter in your life. Maybe you could try volunteering somewhere in your community or organizing a sober event for other people in recovery to gather together and celebrate. However you choose to spend the holidays, make sure you’re enjoying yourself just as much a priority as keeping yourself safe and sober.

Keep In Touch

To make it through this season with the most support available to you, keep in touch with your support network, with yourself, and with your doctors. Keeping in touch with your support network might mean gathering with the supportive people in your life at a holiday celebration, and it also might mean attending group counseling or one-on-one sessions. Keeping in touch with yourself might mean the self-care we discussed earlier, and it can also mean acting in your own best interest, like leaving a party early or skipping one altogether.

Keeping in touch with your primary care physician will help you with your recovery through this holiday season, as well. Substance use disorders can take a toll on the body, but with the help of your doctor, your physical wellness can be improved, in turn improving the mental fortitude you’ll need to stay clean. Taking care of your physical health is part of taking care of yourself, and the primary health care doctors at Recovery Care are here to do just that.

Looking for primary care near you? Recovery Care offers primary care services as well as mental health services, including group counseling, in Jeannette, Somerset, and Pittsburgh, PA, as well as Keyser, WV. Schedule your appointment online today or call (855)-502-2273 for more information.