family gathering during holidays

With the increased amount of alcohol during the holiday season from November to January, the potential for relapse can feel overwhelming. The holidays evoke many feelings, including stress, anxiety, and loneliness. Those with alcohol use disorder can feel tempted to numb these feelings by having a drink, which can create a slippery slope. To avoid alcohol abuse and misuse, consider the following tips when moving into the holiday season. 

How to stay safe amid holiday drinking

Volunteer or stay busy

The holiday season is about giving, so volunteering can keep your mind busy and help you practice gratitude. Studies show volunteering can improve your physical and mental health. People who volunteer typically have a higher quality of life and may even be reminded why they quit drinking alcohol in the first place.

Additionally, these primarily social opportunities provide a loving environment that keeps your spirits high during the holiday season. If you volunteer regularly, you can also meet new people to become a part of your support system. 

Have non-alcoholic drinks handy

Having a plan in place will make attending a party with alcohol go smoothly. If you bring your own drink, such as seltzer water or soda, the host might be less likely to offer you a drink, making you less tempted. 

However, family or friends asking why you aren’t drinking might be challenging. Preparing what you’d like to say in response beforehand can keep you on track. Some potential responses include:

  • “I’m the designated driver.”
  • “I’m taking a new medication.”
  • “I’m in recovery and happy to talk to you about my experience in private.”

However, understand and set your own boundaries. A simple “no” is a full sentence; you don’t owe anyone your story. 

Create a support group or have a “buddy” 

You shouldn’t have to battle alcoholism on your own. Many professionals suggest having friends or a support group with similar struggles who can pull you out from a possible relapse. Attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, one-on-one therapy sessions, or an outpatient rehab program during the holidays can provide helpful guidance. 

The first step always entails reaching out. Many services give those struggling with alcohol misuse a phone number or crisis helpline available during the holidays at any hour of the day. You can also ask trusted family members to be a part of your support group.

Eat well 

Mental health conditions such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder can lead to alcohol use disorder. Nutrition can also impact your mood, so sticking with a healthy, consistent diet may cause fewer mood swings and greater life satisfaction. Fruits, vegetables, and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids can contribute to a more focused mind.

Practice your normal self-care routine 

Self-care goes beyond the stereotypical facial and bubble bath. Self-care is listening to your body and genuinely tuning into your thoughts – a mind, body, and spirit wellness. You can express self-care in many ways, such as taking a daily walk, reading a book, sitting down with a cup of coffee, or taking a nap. Whatever your self-care routine, it’s crucial to keep it during the holidays for a sense of normalcy and balance. 

Avoid underage drinking 

Families may think it’s not a big deal for an underage adult to drink alcohol at a family party. However, there is always risk involved. For students in high school, teachers can discuss the dangers of underage drinking with their students before winter break. 

Open communication with your children about drinking and its consequences is essential. Letting your kids know the harmful effects alcohol has on the brain when drinking at a young age may prevent them from experimenting. Keep alcohol out of reach in the house, and if your child does get stuck in a situation where they drink alcohol, let them know they can always rely on you without judgment.

If you or someone you know is suffering from substance abuse and looking for recovery assistance, the Wellspring Center of Prevention is here to help. We can assist you in finding a treatment facility through the Self Help Tool

Photo by Nicole Michalou

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