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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Recovery: Staying Sober During the Holidays

Staying sober during the holidays can be challenging.  Holiday parties and family gatherings often include alcoholic beverages. Also, the stress of the holidays can be trigger cravings to drink. But with some forethought and planning, you can help ensure that you continue along a positive path in your recovery.

Recovery: Staying Sober During the Holidays
Plan Head to Maintain Your Sobriety
If you're aware that you're going to be facing situations where you'll be tempted to drink and compromise your sobriety, you can plan for these situations by being more diligent in your recovery efforts.

Attending Extra A.A. Meetings
During the holiday season, it's a good idea to attend extra Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, even if you have many years of sobriety.

It's easy to become complacent during this time of year by underestimating the challenges and overestimating your ability to overcome temptations to drink.

Also, maintaining regular contact with your sponsor during the holidays can help you to avoid relapsing. It's often a good idea to "bookend" a challenging event, like a party where alcohol will be served, by planning in advance to speak to your sponsor before and after the event. Knowing that you'll have extra support can help you avoid picking up a drink.

Beware of "Stinking Thinking"
It's also important to be aware that "stinking thinking" can creep up on you during the holidays. An example of "stinking thinking" is when you tell yourself, "I can handle just one drink."

This is also a form of denial. When we want to convince ourselves that we can handle situations that are, in reality, beyond our control, it's easy to lull ourselves into a false sense of reality. Being aware in advance of this possibility, you can avoid falling into this trap.

Recovery: Staying Sober During the Holidays

If You Relapse Get Back on Track
But what if, despite your best efforts, you relapse? Is everything lost? The answer, in most cases is a resounding "no." Rather than engaging in "black and white" or "all or nothing" thinking, make positive efforts to get back on track.

By getting in touch with your sponsor, attending an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, or calling someone from the A.A. meeting list, you can get yourself back on track and avoid having your relapse turn into a protracted slide.

By being aware, admitting to yourself that holiday season can be challenging to your recovery, and taking positive action to maintain your recovery, you help to ensure that you'll have a safe and more satisfying holiday.

I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR therapist, and Somatic Experiencing therapist.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist

To set up a consultation, call me at (212) 726-1006 or email me: