santas-arm-1906511_1920It’s not the most wonderful time of the year if you struggle with addiction! There is a party everywhere and they usually include alcohol. So if you are trying to stay sober, it is a challenge. But there are things you can do to set up the holidays for success. However, these will take attention and planning ahead.

First, let a trusted friend know you don’t want to drink at an event. Make him or her an accountability partner and check in with that person on a regular basis. You might even consider BYOB -one that is nonalcoholic!

Second, know your triggers. This is a big category for some people. It involves smells, sounds, visual reminders of drinking, old friends, familiar places, etc. If you know that the sight, sound or smell of something will trigger a craving, try to avoid it or have a plan to deal with it differently. Anticipating those triggers can help you plan in advance a new way to respond. Trigger identification is key to sobriety as the brain remembers drinking cues and brings back craving.

Third, go to parties with non drinking friends! If you begin to feel stressed because you don’t know people at a party, stay with a friend who can be social with you. It’s too easy to medicate the stress of new people with alcohol. Don’t go to a party if your former drinking buddies will all be there. It’s not worth your sobriety.

Fourth, go to the party fashionably late. When there is too much social time, it is easier to give in to drinking. You will feel less stress coming later. There will be less time to mingle and fewer awkward moments. If you feel like you might slip, have an exit strategy.

Fifth, stay away from the rum cake and chocolate liquor candies. Those just might be enough to knock out your sobriety and tell the brain to drink again. No alcohol means no alcohol!

Sixth, go to a meeting and be reminded to stay sober. Then build new traditions that don’t involve drinking.

Seventh, role-play a strategy for someone who might try to push you to drink. Practice in the mirror what you might say and then rehearse the script until you know you can deliver it.

Finally, if you feel going to a party or event is too tempting, don’t go. You have every right to opt out. The best strategy is sometimes avoidance. Life can be lived with no alcohol.

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