For many of us, the holidays mean parties and getting together with loved ones. For others, separated from friends and families, the holidays mean loneliness. Either way, they’re full of dangerous traps for someone with a drug problem. The long month of December looms ahead, bringing with it memories of past holidays, good times, and all that went with them. It can be almost overwhelming.
If you’re still in the throes of an addiction but are waiting until the new year to do something about it, don’t. The best gift you can give yourself and everyone else in your life is to enroll in an inpatient drug rehab now.
But even if you’re newly recovered or have been dealing for a long time with the challenge of living a drug-free life, you know that what you want most is to wake up on January first with a clear outlook and the confidence of having made it made it through in one piece. To help you make it, here are the pitfalls to avoid:
Everyone Else Is Having Such a Good Time
It looks that way, doesn’t it? But a good time fueled by drugs is just what you don’t want. Because the good time is followed by a bad time — sometimes a very bad time — and you’ve already decided it’s not worth it.
You shouldn’t be around people who are using anyway, but if you find yourself in that situation, take a good look at what’s going on. A conversation among people who are high isn’t usually all that enlightening or fun. Say your goodbyes with a smile and then head for the door.
I Don’t Want Everyone Else to Feel Bad
Are you kidding? First, no one else cares what you’re doing or not doing. Second, it’s a miserable excuse, and you know it even while you’re thinking it. Third, unless you’re behaving like a narc or the president of the local twelve-step group, you’re not ruining anyone else’s evening. And fourth, it bears repeating that no one cares. When you were using did you care what anyone else did?
But They’re My Friends
Indeed. And if they really are, they’ll be around to get together with at someplace where drugs aren’t an option. Meet up for coffee, go Christmas shopping together, hit a movie, a museum, or a bowling alley. Take a walk or go snowboarding. There are lots of ways to enjoy the holidays and the company of friends without putting your recovery at risk.
There’s Just Too Much Stress
No question the holidays can be stressful for everyone past the age of seven. Regardless of whether or not drugs are in the picture, family gatherings can be full of pressure, and social expectations can rise to levels that are really uncomfortable.
If the interplay among the relatives starts to make you feel as if your head is about to explode, leave the room or leave the house. Take over the kitchen cleanup, be the one who volunteers to pick Aunt Sophie up from the station, or just hole up in a quiet spot and call a friend who will support and commiserate with you.
If you can find some humor in the situation, so much the better. Everyone’s family is crazy in one way or another. If yours is particularly so, take it all in and amuse yourself by plotting the novel you could write about them some day.
That’s sure understandable. Particularly if drugs used to be your best friends and you’ve given up not only them but maybe also the people you were using them with. You’re experiencing loss and you may not have found anything yet to fill that space inside you.
This is the time to have a store of healthy coping mechanisms you can rely on. Meditate, go for a run, immerse yourself in a project, read an absorbing book, practice the piano — anything that works to keep your mind on something else. It might lift your spirits to volunteer your time somewhere, go to a religious service, or attend a performance of Handel’s Messiah. Adopting a pet from a shelter is also a great way to revive the joy in your life.
Just know for a fact that you’re not the only one going through all this at holiday time. There are many public and private resources available to assist, and many online sources like this one with encouraging information to help you through the month and beyond to a hopeful and drug-free new year.