Last week I wrote about the notorious Bermuda Triangle, those dangerous weeks constituting the terrible trifecta that is Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. The holiday season can be incredibly difficult for those in recovery, no matter their religion, creed or spiritual practices.
In fact, this time of year is such a danger zone for addicts and alcoholics that twelve-step fellowships host 24-hour meeting marathons on Thanksgiving and Christmas Days. These can be a haven for anyone finding themselves alone after burning bridges with family and friends in active addiction, or a welcome escape from an overwhelming holiday gathering. We may suddenly have to escape the clutches of a nosy aunt or an eggnog-loving uncle who imbibed perhaps a little too enthusiastically. So while some recovering addicts are reminded of everything they might lack at this time of year, for many others the holidays can feel like a minefield of triggers.
But it’s not all boozy doom and gloom. Just because the pressure feels higher this time of year, it doesn’t mean that we should simply throw up our hands and give in to cravings. During the Covid-19 pandemic, many recovery fellowships moved their meetings online and so Christmas Eve and Christmas Day meeting marathons are more accessible than ever. A quick google search shows Zoom meetings around the globe and around the clock. These meetings are a treasure trove of good, practical advice for any person in recovery who needs extra support.
Those attending family get-togethers are advised to bring their own transportation, or to bring a sober support, like a sponsor or a trusted friend. Have a conversation with the host beforehand, letting them know that you are in recovery and that you might leave suddenly and early – and if that’s not a comfortable conversation to have, this may be an indicator you shouldn’t be there at all. Always remember that the phone is a fantastic resource, and texting sober friends throughout the event can remind us of our commitment to sobriety. We can pour ourselves a soda or seltzer at the beginning of the gathering so that we don’t have to deal with uncomfortable questions or alcohol being pushed on us by an unknowing relative.
Remember that no matter how uncomfortable we might feel in the moment, picking up a drink or drug will never make anything better.