Addiction, substance abuse disorders, and alcoholism impact roughly 23 million Americans annually, while 10% of Americans will eventually develop a substance abuse disorder. Additionally, another 33% of Americans will struggle with a drinking problem or alcoholism in their lifetime, making substance abuse-related disorders relatively common. Whether you are struggling with a substance abuse problem or are actively recovering, the holidays can make it hard to figure out how to maintain sobriety during Christmas. Although the holidays are a great time to get together with friends, family members, and loved ones, alcohol use skyrockets during the winter holidays. How to maintain sobriety during Christmas is especially difficult if you are actively recovering, as alcohol-fueled parties and celebrations can make it hard to protect your sobriety.
Holidays, Addiction, and Recovery
Alcohol is common at many holiday celebrations during Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve. In fact, during the winter holidays, 23% of men and 18% of women binge drink. Binge drinking occurs when you consume four to five drinks in two hours or less. Holidays can also increase stress and conflict, especially if you have a dysfunctional family or strained relationships with your loved ones.
Another reason holidays can make you struggle with things like how to maintain sobriety during Christmas is because many celebrations encourage alcohol and drug use. Christmas parties, like Ugly Sweater Parties, are very popular and many times involve heavy binge drinking. When you have an addiction, holidays can also intensify triggers like stress and isolation. If you don’t have friends or families to celebrate with, it can lead to feelings of depression and loneliness.
Some common triggers during the winter holidays include:
- Financial constraints
- Increased conflict
- Seasonal depression
- Increased time off from work and school
How to Maintain Sobriety During Christmas
Sometimes, it’s hard to find how to maintain sobriety during Christmas, especially if you’re in early recovery. If you are in school or work, the holiday season usually brings extra days off. Vacations can be refreshing, but in recovery, it can leave you with an excessive amount of time on your hands. Boredom can intensify cravings, which is why it’s important to find out how to maintain sobriety during Christmas.
One great way to maintain sobriety during the holidays is to make plans with friends in recovery. Also, family members who don’t drink or use drugs is a good idea. If you are active in peer-led support groups, like AA, NA, or SMART Recovery, your home group likely has special holiday events to help you maintain sobriety. Another way to celebrate Christmas sober is to make alternative plans for sober activities before the holiday.
Even though drinking is a big part of many holiday parties, plenty of sober activities exist. Many communities have family-friendly holiday celebrations, such as light-up nights. Shopping centers also have plenty of holiday festivities. If you attend religious services, your church is also a great resource in creating a sober holiday plan.
During recovery, the holidays can also be a painful reminder of bad memories causing symptoms and cravings to get worse. When you have a difficult time enjoying the holidays, especially during sobriety, it’s important to remember there are more Americans in recovery than addicted, meaning there are many ways to celebrate Christmas without drugs or alcohol.
Finding Help Today
Whether you are trapped in addiction or are recovering, the holidays can serve as a powerful trigger. Figuring out how to maintain sobriety during Christmas and other winter holidays is difficult. This is especially hard because binge drinking and drug use increase significantly during the holidays. If you are struggling with addiction or your recovery, call us today at 855.259.1624 to learn more about our programs and your treatment options.