I have had the honor of not only working with alcoholics and addicts in private practice, but at many rehabs throughout Malibu. Not surprisingly, the census is often down around the Fourth of July, just as it is in December before Christmas and New Years. Many wait until after the holidays to check themselves in and unfortunately many never quite make it at all. If you are a recovery alcoholic or addict or know someone who is, I am sure you can relate. Why go to rehab when you may as well wait until the holiday and parties are over because you know there is going to be a lot of drinking and drugging going on and who want to miss that? Right? Wrong!
Many of my younger clients who actually are lucky enough to make it to rehab, start climbing the walls around this time. They wonder what they might be missing out on. I remind them when they are in fantasy mod of what might being going on outside the gates of rehab, what the reality is. One young man, who thought he was missing out on all the fun realized that what he was really missing was him being locked up in a friend’s bathroom alone, shooting up, with no one around but him and his needle to keep him company. Gee, that sounds like fun, right? Another mom in rehab I remember was feeling guilty because she couldn’t experience the joy of her children watching the fireworks. After a reality check, she realize she has never once watched the joy and sparkle in her children’s eyes because she was too busy blacking out after a full day of margaritas and tequila shots. The harsh reality is the fantasy of what holiday drinking and drugging is usually just that; a fantasy. Now that you are sober or thinking of getting sober or know someone who is, you actually have an opportunity to enjoy your friendships this year by being present. You can bring the holiday in by being aware of all the sights, the sounds, the tastes, the smells, and the delicious surroundings of summer without using or drinking.
The following are some tips to help get you through the holiday without having to yet go another year missing the fourth of July in a drunken stupor. Perhaps this year you will be able to celebrate another kind of Independence Day, a day of no longer needing alcohol or drugs to have fun.
1. Call a friend, family member, therapist, life coach, or anyone who can support you if you are having cravings.
2. Meditate and notice your cravings but don’t get stuck in them. Instead be a curious observe or your cravings.
3. Pray, recite the serenity prayer over and over again to remind yourself of what you can and cannot control.
4. Practice a guided meditation of your favorite destination with people whom you enjoy being with sober.
5. Pick up your daily mediation or positive mediation books.
Sherry Gaba, LCSW, is an experienced professional in the field of addictions and recovery. She is the author of “The Law of Sobriety: Attracting Positive Energy for a Powerful Recovery.” A licensed psychotherapist and life coach who attended the famous Coaches Training Institute, Sherry received her Masters of Social Work from the prestigious University of Southern California. With fifteen years of experience as a clinician, she has also worked at some of the top rehab centers including the famed Promises Treatment Center in Malibu, CA. The success of her private practice and coaching program made her the go-to expert for Dr. Drew Pinsky on VH1’s Celebrity Rehab 2 and 3 and its spinoff, Sober House, and she will continue as the Life Coach on Celebrity Rehab 4 summer 2010. Sherry’s expertise has been quoted in Cosmopolitan, New York Daily News, E Online, Elle Online, Huffington Post, and she has appeared on Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell, Hollywood Confidential, Inside Edition, Dr. Drew Live, Fox News in San Diego, and KTLA-TV in Los Angeles. Sherry is a frequent contributor to anthologies, blogs, and newsletters, is a sought-after speaker, and lives with her family in Southern California where she maintains an active private practice. Visit Sherry at www.sgabatherapy.com.