New Year is a Challenging Time for Recovering Alcoholics
New Year’s celebrations tend to be fueled by alcohol. Even those individuals who do not normally drink during the rest of the year will make an exception for such a special occasion. As the clock counts down to midnight on New Year’s Eve, many adults in most Western countries will be at least slightly inebriated. There is also a surge in the number of alcohol-related accidents at this time. With so much emphasis on alcohol, it can be difficult for those who are trying to quit or have already entered recovery. The festive season is a time when those in recovery are at risk of relapse. A significant percentage of these people will never get another shot at sobriety. It is therefore vital that everything that can be done is done to avoid such casualties.
The Dangers of New Year for Recovery Alcoholics
New Year can be a dangerous time for recovering alcoholics because:
- This is a time of year where there are many social gatherings involving alcohol. It is like the whole world is partying, and those in recovery can feel left out of the celebrations. It can be difficult to avoid being swept away by such merriment. The recovering alcoholic can even start to kid themselves that one drink for the New Year won’t hurt.
- Alcoholics will tend to have traditions related to New Years festivities which involve drinking alcohol. Those individuals who are in early recovery can find it difficult to break away from these traditions.
- Alcoholics may have fond memories of drunken New Year’s Eve celebrations in the past. This means that they can begin to romance the drink. Such thinking can easily lead to relapse. These memories are tricky, these good times less wonderful than memory suggests.
- This is a time of year for meeting up with old friends and acquaintances. If these are former drinking buddies there can be a great deal of pressure to rekindle the friendship over a few drinks.
- Some people in recovery can get a type of pleasure out of watching other people drink alcohol. This may seem like a harmless activity but it can lead to intense cravings to relapse.
- Those who are estranged from family can feel incredibly lonely at New Year. Loneliness is a common excuse used by people to justify their relapse. It needs to be avoided at New Year or this relapse trigger could lead people back to sitting on a barstool.
How to Avoid Relapse at New Year
These are some of the measures people can take to ensure that they [do not relapse over the New Year period] (http://alcoholrehab.com/alcohol-rehab/holiday-temptations-for-alcoholics/):
- The New Year season is a good time to focus more on recovery. Those who belong to a recovery fellowship will benefit from going to more meetings at this time. The atmosphere at these gatherings is especially festive, so attending can be fun. This will help those in recovery feel stronger and better able to cope with the New Year build up. Those who do not belong to a support group may want to spend more time reading recovery literature or become involved with one of the online recovery communities.
- If people find that they are beginning to romance the drink they need to challenge such thoughts. They can do this by remembering the bad times as well as the supposedly good times. The fact that the individual needed to give up alcohol in the first place is evidence enough that things could not have been so wonderful. Those who are in recovery need to be aware of how memory can be treacherous and ready to combat such thinking.
- Keeping a journal is always good way to stay strong and motivated. The individual can use this as an outlet for their frustrations and concerns. The ability to get fears down on paper makes a difference. They can seem less threatening when they are there in black and white. Reading back on old journal entries can be a wonderful way to judge progress and can act as a reminder of the reasons it is worth staying on the sober path.
- Those individuals who have a sponsor may want to make use of this resource during the New Year build up. A sponsor is able to offer support and one-to-one guidance. They will be able to share their experience of making it through this potentially dangerous time of year.
- Arranging a party where there will be no alcoholic drinks available can be a good way to ensure a sober New Year. It is not only people in recovery who appreciate sober parties. There are many non-drinkers who do not enjoy being around those who are inebriated. They find it boring. An alcohol-free party can be a wonderful way to see in the New Year.
- Groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous tend to arrange sober parties. Those who are staying in rehab can also get to enjoy seasonal activities.
- It is not advisable that people in early recovery stay at home alone during these celebrations. It is best to spend time with some sober friends or visit non-drinking family members.
How to Survive a Party at New Year
It is probably not a good idea for those in early recovery to go to a New Year’s party where alcohol is going to be flowing. Even those who are well established in their sobriety can find such events a challenge. Sometimes though, it can be difficult to avoid such events, and there may be a situation where the individual feels they cannot get out of going. For example, it may be expected as part of a job commitment. If the individual feels that they are at high risk of relapse then they should avoid this party no matter what the consequences. Here are a few ideas for how people can survive a New Year’s party:
- It may sound a bit odd but it can actually help to practice saying no to alcoholic drinks before the party. This can be better done with the help of somebody else in the form of role play. Some partygoers can be particularly persistent when it comes to getting other people to drink, often because they have their own alcohol demons pulling the strings. It is best to be prepared for such doggedness. In most instances, a firm no will be enough to end such questioning. Giving a longwinded answer can just lead to further questioning.
- One of the best ways to survive these gatherings is to bring along another friend who is not going to be drinking alcohol. If this individual is also in recovery, then it is vital that their sobriety is well-established. Otherwise, both of these attendees could be at risk of relapse.
- It can also be helpful to take along some addiction recovery material. There days this can be discreetly done using Smartphone such as the iPhone. There are many apps available that are designed for people recovering from addiction. These include written, audio and video material.
- It is crucial to check ahead to make sure that there will be suitable non-alcoholic drinks available. If they are not then the individual will want to bring along their own favorite soft drink.
- It is not a good idea for people in recovery to ever leave their drink unattended. There are some nasty individuals who enjoy spiking the drinks of other people by adding alcohol to them. The person who engages in such behavior may think that they are livening up the party, but it can be devastating for people in recovery to find out that there drink has been spiked.
- If people feel that they feel overwhelmed by the occasion, they should leave right away. They should then seek assistance and support from a sober friend or recovery group. It is best to plan an escape route before they attend.
Sober Resolutions for the New Year
There are plenty of individuals who managed to finally break away from their alcohol addiction at New Year. It is well known that most people will fail to keep their resolutions, but there are plenty of individuals who buck this trend. There is no need for those who are suffering because of their addiction to wait until this event to stop. There is no advantage to extending such misery by even one more day. It is always better to give up alcohol abuse now rather than waiting for some special later date. This is because there is no guarantee that the motivation to stop will still be there when this time comes.
How to Enjoy New Year Celebrations in Recovery
It is definitely possible for people in recovery to enjoy New Year. In fact it is usual for those with established sobriety to claim that it becomes more enjoyable than any time in the past. It may sound like a bit of a cliché but people do not need alcohol to have a good time. Once the individual becomes secure in their sobriety, the festive season becomes something to look forward to rather than something to be dreaded.
Happy Sober New Year!