Bar News - November 15, 2013
Holidays and Sobriety – A Difficult Combo
By: Cecie Hartigan
Coming into the holiday season, one question that is usually a source of concern for people who are trying to stay sober is, “How will I make it through the holidays?” From a personal perspective, I can relate: When I decided to stop drinking years ago, it was March, and I vividly recall one of my first fears being, “How will I make it through Christmas?”
As it turned out, I did make it through, and I had plenty of help. Friends who were in recovery gave me a few simple rules to follow that have proven reliable over the years and have helped others to whom I’ve passed them along. The first and most fundamental rule is to remember that it is a personal health decision and no explanation is needed. This is an important perspective; in being relieved of the need to explain our abstinence, we can also be relieved of our concern for what others think or do regarding alcohol. A neutral attitude is freeing and conducive to enjoying functions where alcohol is served.
It may take time for that neutrality to develop, so that we are not defensive or fearful of what others may think or say. A few things to consider ahead of time can help to avoid a truly uncomfortable circumstance:
1) Do I have a reason to be here other than drinking (i.e. office or business party I’m expected to attend)?
2) Is there someone here who knows what I am trying to do and supports me (even making eye contact across a room with a spouse or supportive colleague is valuable).
3) If the urge to drink does occur, quickly follow it with a mental reminder of what happened the last time you drank, and why you are trying not to drink now (think of the workout, or of the newspaper and coffee, that you will enjoy in the morning!).
4) Have an exit strategy ahead of time (your own car or another way to leave, if needed).
The main ideas are these: plan ahead and have support, be mindful of your own emotional reactions, try not to heed other’s reactions to the extent they are not supportive, and perhaps most importantly, do not assume what others may be thinking - it may be that no one will even notice.
Resources for people who think they may suffer from alcoholism and their families include Alcoholics Anonymous, and Al-Anon, and other counseling and recovery services.
NHLAP offers confidential support for New Hampshire attorneys. Call (603) 491-0282. And have a safe and happy holiday season!