Tips to Stay Sober Through New Year’s and Beyond

Developing an addiction to alcohol or drugs is easy. It’s getting sober again that’s the hard part. Although there are countless resources available, part of the complex nature of addiction is that recovery requires so many different components, and even after receiving treatment it takes ongoing conviction to stay sober. However, it’s not actually as bleak or hopeless as it may sound.

Like any new lifestyle or habit, it simply takes time to adjust and become reacquainted with oneself while free from alcohol and drugs as well as strategies in place to safeguard one’s sobriety during those occasional times when it may be tested.

Sober Holiday Celebrations Are Achievable

Most people associate the holidays with indulgence and jovial celebrations. While it can still be that way for those in recovery, it also goes without saying that it’s a much different type of indulgence and celebration when you’ve had an addiction and gotten your sobriety back through the hard-won journey of recovery.

Therefore, it’s important for anyone in recovery from alcoholism or drug addiction to know what to do when holiday festivities put them in tempting situations. Staying sober through New Year’s requires thought and planning. Here are tips for enjoying an alcohol- and drug-free holiday season.

1. Limit Time Spent with Non-Sober Friends

Anyone who has gone through the recovery process can verify that there are many people who are supportive of newfound sobriety and, inevitably, some who don’t understand it. Those who don’t understand tend to have the least experience with addiction, which means they can’t fathom how a person could be unable to control his or her alcohol consumption or drug use.

This can be frustrating, but there’s not much to do in such a situation except to avoid time spent with those who aren’t understanding of your being in recovery. It doesn’t mean you can’t spend plenty of time with them, but it’s obviously going to be best to gracefully bow out of accompanying them to any events that involve more than one kind of Christmas spirit.

2. Arrive Early, Leave Early

If you’ve ever been a college student or enthusiastic substance abuser, you’ll know that whether you’re hitting the bars or going to parties, it tends to be that things get increasingly more exciting as the evening matures. The main reason for this is quite simple: when it gets to be later, it means that everyone is already pretty inebriated because they have been imbibing for a while already.

If your intent is to protect your sobriety, it’s a good idea to plan to arrive early and leave before the drinking or drug use commences. You might miss all the “excitement,” but it’s also likely to be the kind of excitement that requires a near-comatose level of intoxication to enjoy.

3. Be Prepared to Make a Quick Exit if Necessary

Try as we might, there’s just no possible way to be prepared for every possible outcome in every given situation. It’s inevitable in life that we’re going to find ourselves in situations we would never have expected, and this applies as much to people in addiction recovery as anyone else; perhaps even more so.

You may think you’ve strategically planned your holiday festivities in such a way as to prevent yourself from encountering any sticky situations, but you should always have an exit strategy for the remote chance that you would come face to face, so to speak, with the substance to which you were previously addicted. So do yourself a favor and, especially when you’re attending holiday gatherings, be prepared to make a swift exit if it comes to that. As the saying goes, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

4. Create New, Sober-Friendly Traditions

While it’s good to have an exit strategy and to plan to attend holiday festivities before the booze is brought out, there’s also the possibility of ruling out the possibility of unexpected temptation altogether by hosting your own holiday event or events. There are seemingly limitless possibilities as to what your event might entail. For instance, you could invite friends over for a night of baking ten different types of cookies or have an open ice cream bar for everyone to make their own sundaes, or have the family come over to help you decorate your tree. Who knows? You might even start a new, sober tradition.

5. Drive Separately

Here’s a tip that you may not think about, but it’s extremely helpful. Driving separately rather than riding with others will mean that you could very well get stuck in a place where, for sobriety’s sake, you really shouldn’t be. Instead of being at the mercy of someone else’s schedule, you can choose to leave any time you please, which could even be the difference between saving your sobriety and having a relapse.

6. Say “No, Thank You”

If you’re someone of an extremely strong will, who has absolutely no problem resisting the temptation that comes with being offered the substance of your previous addiction, saying, “No, thank you,” is another potential solution. Granted, even with an ironclad will it’s still a gamble, but it’s a good one to keep in your back pocket just in case.

7. BYOA (Bring Your Own Alternatives)

Mixed drinks. They’re incredibly popular and bring an insane amount of variety to alcohol consumption. Some are simple, containing only a couple ingredients and perhaps a garnish while others have more than a handful of different liquors in very specific ratios.

If you’re someone who’s in recovery and can’t drink alcohol, there’s actually a way for you to enjoy the same mixed drinks as everyone else: Simply bring your own alternatives or B.Y.O.A. Obviously, these alternatives are non-alcoholic such as tonic water, club soda, or even something like Sprite.

While this strategy will allow you to continue participating, it’s obviously a bit more difficult at events where the other partygoers are drinking significantly more than a cocktail or two.

8. Donate Your Party Time by Volunteering

Here’s another option that’s infrequently considered: Ditch the booze-laden holiday festivities altogether and do something selfless such as volunteering. There are always many opportunities for volunteering, especially around the holidays. Whether it’s at a soup kitchen, wrapping gifts for Toys for Tots, or organizing a food drive, the feeling of helping others in need is a high in and of itself.

9. Plan Ahead

Executing most of the tips to stay sober through New Year’s and the rest of the year will require varying levels of foresight, so that makes planning ahead important by default. For instance, you can’t bring your own alternatives if you didn’t plan ahead by picking up some club soda to take to your company’s Christmas party. Planning is an essential part of recovery and is essential to retain your sobriety throughout the holidays.

10. Hit Some Extra Meetings

Last but certainly not least, attending some extra meetings as you head into the holiday season is always a great idea. In fact, this is a great idea year-round, but it’s especially beneficial in times when you feel your hold on sobriety is especially tenuous, including during any times of stress, worry, and during the holidays. Be sure to get some rest.

Call Us and Start Your Journey to Sobriety Today

If you or someone you love would benefit from a free consultation with one of our recovery specialists, call Pathway to Hope at 844-311-5781. Whether it’s day or night, we’re always available to help you or your loved one get back to a life of happiness, health, and fulfillment.

 

Grief and Loss in Recovery | Avoiding Relapse When Coping with Death

The disease of addiction attacks even if you are in recovery. Addiction is relentless and despite ridding yourself of old behaviors, certain things tend to creep up in a matter of time. Although recovery promises a life beyond your wildest dreams, it doesn’t completely diminish some of the negative aspects of life. One of the most daunting obstacles to face is death. Grief and loss in recovery seem to happen more frequently than ever before. The national opioid crisis contributes to the highest number of overdose deaths—let’s face it, a lot of people in recovery know someone whose life has been cut too short. However, death can be dealt with in recovery without relapse. Although it can be difficult and you will struggle, it is possible and there are a few guidelines that can prevent you from relapse in these crucial times.

There are a number of effective coping mechanism and tools to use to face the obstacles that may arise. Of course, each individual’s shortcomings will vary in severity; however, the tools will be effective regardless of the matter.

Educating yourself on the stages of grief, what it means to overcome obstacles in recovery, and how to cope with grief and loss in recovery can be the deciding factor in how you overcome future struggles.

The 5 Stages of Grief

The Kubler-Ross model, otherwise known as the five stages of grief, was first introduced in 1969 in Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s book On Death and Dying. Although the stages are written in a specific order, they can be experienced in any order at any given time. An individual dealing with grief and loss in recovery can also flip from one stage to another during their grieving process.

The stages of grief were initially inspired by the death of loved ones. However, the feelings expressed in the stages can relate to any form of loss and are useful for understanding the process and ultimately learning to accept death when it comes.

There is also no time frame for grief and loss in recovery. The time it takes to fully accept loss can vary on a number of individual factors.

Denial

Denial is typically the first of the five stages of grief. This stage is known as the survival stage and it helps in diminishing any urges to act irrationally. Denial is actually a defense mechanism which numbs us to our true emotions.

Sometimes, you might feel the world is a dark and meaningless place and overwhelming feelings might begin to take over. The stage of denial creates this illusion within you—that perhaps the diagnosis was a mistake or the loss isn’t actually true.

Anger

As the numbness begins to dwindle, you might begin to experience anger. When dealing with grief and loss in recovery, the intense emotions can override any feelings of inner peace you may have gained on your recovery journey. Anger is actually one of the easiest emotions to express. However, the anger may be directed at people or things who aren’t necessarily to blame. When dealing with a loss, no one is to blame. If an overdose is the cause of death, the disease of addiction is the only true culprit.

Bargaining

Bargaining is a normal reaction in any form of grief and loss in recovery. When you bargain, you typically make “if only” or “what if” statements. You might say to yourself things such as:

  • If only I had reached out sooner
  • If only I was a better friend, lover, supporter
  • If only I was there, I could have stopped it

However, these statements, along with many others that fit into this category, most likely would not have changed anything. Bargaining can also be a form of guilt or survivor’s guilt. Guilt convinces us that we are faulted when in reality, we only want to diminish the feelings of pain.

Depression

Grief and loss in recovery are sure to lead to depression. This stage can be felt throughout the entire duration of the process, especially if you are predisposed to depression or other mental illness. However, if you do not suffer from pre-existing depression, it is completely normal to feel symptoms of depression when dealing with loss. In this stage, you might begin to withdraw from support and loved ones. This can, however, be risky in recovery.

In times like these, despite not wanting to, it is important to keep in contact with people you trust. The feelings associated with depression can be a slippery slope, especially if you begin to feel weak in your recovery.

Acceptance

Acceptance is the final stage of the grieving process; however, it is possible to experience feelings from previous stages after getting to acceptance. Accepting death comes with time and being able to work with support networks to sort through the feelings associated with grief and loss in recovery. Although your life has been altered, there is a sense of contentment or accepting this permanent reality without feeling the need to do something brash. It is imperative that you continue to reach out to your support network and loved ones in order to remain stable.

Coping with your loss is a deeply intimate and personal journey—no one can tell you how fast your grieving process must be or understand the exact feelings you’re going through. However, you must not stray away from your program or your support, as they are your lifeline and can help you stay sober through the entire process.

Avoiding Relapse

Staying sober is the goal throughout the entire grieving process. You will experience all of these overwhelming feelings and it is important to avoid relapse. Relapse will only lengthen the obstacles.

Although relapse is preventable, it does happen.

I can tell you from experience, having knowledge of the stages of grief and actively working a program with a number of supportive people in my life, I still chose to pick up. Dealing with grief and loss in recovery is difficult. At the time I experienced this, I was weak and fragile in my recovery. I had no desire to continue my recovery process, but it prolonged a lot of the issues relating to the loss as well as issues prior to experiencing the loss.

There are a few guidelines and coping mechanisms to use that can help you stay sober throughout the grieving process. Having a solid foundation can better your chances of staying sober through a heartbreaking time. If you are in recovery, it’s important to stay strong and consistently reach out to your support network and close friends and family. Also, not drifting away from your support and your daily regime can help you remain busy, which is beneficial in all aspects of dealing with loss in recovery.

Although grief and loss in recovery is a difficult process, it is possible to overcome without relapsing if you follow the steps to prevent relapse.

Are You Struggling?

If you or someone you know is struggling with grief and loss in recovery, there is help available. At Pathway to Hope, we understand how difficult this process can be and our professionals can help you overcome addiction and any other obstacles you may face. Our trained professionals can be contacted at (844) 557-8575 and are ready to assist you in finding the right program for you. Unfortunately, relapse is a part of a lot of people’s recovery. However, it is important that you seek help before it’s too late.

How Competition Can Sabotage Recovery | The Danger of Comparing Addiction Recovery

Addiction recovery is a process, and it doesn’t end once you finish your rehabilitation treatment. Living in recovery and managing your addiction requires strength, energy, and a willingness to always be improving. If that sounds like a lot, that’s because it is, and that’s why there is a 40 to 60 percent chance of relapse within a person’s first year post-treatment.

The good news is that, if you dedicate yourself to your recovery, after that first year, the odds of relapsing get significantly smaller. While managing your addiction will never be easy, it will get easier.

During these early stages of your recovery, it’s important to avoid any behaviors or mindsets that could potentially sabotage yourself and leave you vulnerable to relapse. One common mistake is comparing your recovery progress with anyone else’s.

Everyone’s path to sobriety is different, and each person journeys through it at their own pace. While it’s important to set goals for yourself, when recovery becomes a competition to see who can reach their milestones the fastest or complete their 12 steps first, it can negate the whole process.

Comparing Works Both Ways

Recovery isn’t something you’re meant rush through in order to “keep up”. And, comparing yourself to others is a surefire way to trigger a relapse as it leaves you open to being overcome by negative feelings like resentment, jealousy, and insecurity, or on the other hand, overconfidence and complacency.

Feeling like you need to reach certain milestones because those around you have already achieved them and you’re “falling behind” isn’t a healthy motivational tool and it can hurt you in the long run. Competing with others to see who can blow through their post-treatment goals the fastest undermines the whole process and isn’t based on any internal inspiration to get better or take responsibility for your life after rehab.

On the other side of the coin, comparing your progress to those who have not come as far as you or are not moving as quickly can be just as detrimental. Being proud of your progress is one thing, but letting yourself get too comfortable based on where you’re at compared to others carries the risk of becoming complacent and losing that willpower needed to keep moving forward that’s so important to long-term success.

4 Ways to Avoid Turning Recovery into a Competition

Cut toxic people out of your life.

Post-treatment alumni programs and support groups are a fantastic tool for creating a long-lasting support system to help avoid relapse. They give recovering individuals a community of peers who are undergoing similar experiences and challenges.

However, while keeping others posted on your progress and celebrating each other’s milestones can encourage you to keep moving forward, there might be one or more people in these groups who turn it into a race, comparing their recovery progress to others in an unhealthy way.

If someone keeps bragging about the progress they’ve made while mocking or belittling those who aren’t as far along, they might be doing it to mask insecurities about their recovery, but if speaking to them directly about it doesn’t help, do your best to avoid them.

Set goals that are realistic for you.

There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to recovery. Even common recovery programs like the 12-steps are tackled differently from person to person, with some spending more time on one step than another.

It can be all-too-easy to compare yourself to someone else and what they have accomplished and try to set your goals to match theirs. However, these goals, while they might work for this other person, might not necessarily be achievable for you, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Trying to force yourself to make it to a stage of recovery you’re not at yet is more than just unhealthy, it’s dangerous because you’re essentially setting yourself up to fail, and when you don’t meet those goals, it can be disheartening enough to trigger a relapse.

Instead of competing and trying to “keep up” with the people in recovery around you, set goals you know you’re capable of meeting.

Maintain a sense of perspective.

Comparing your addiction recovery to those around you can cause you to lose your motivation and fall into a “negative thought loop,” potentially derailing all the progress you’ve made. One way to combat this is to put these thoughts into perspective.

Instead of “I have so much farther to go than they do,” think “look how far I’ve come.” Instead of “I should be progressing faster like they are,” think “I’m moving forward at my own pace, and I’m still moving forward.”

If you’re going to compare yourself to anyone, do it to the person you used to be. No matter how slowly you’re moving through the recovery process, you’re still running circles around your pre-treatment self.

Focus on you.

While this might sound obvious or like a repetition of the previous steps, this one goes for any kind of comparing. Whether you’re the person feeling hopeless about your own progress in comparison to someone else’s or the one using others’ slow pace to make you feel better about your own, neither mindset is helpful or healthy.

The playing field, so to speak, will never be level, so there’s no way to make equal comparisons between people. Everyone’s end goal may be the same, but you’re all starting from somewhere different, and trying to compare your recovery progress to anyone else’s can take your focus off what’s actually important: maintaining sobriety and putting your life back together.

Focus on your own life and well-being rather than worrying about whether you’re reaching important recovery milestones before or after someone else. Avoid the potentially damaging pride that comes from paying attention to someone who’s behind you and the feelings of defeat that come from getting fixated on someone who’s ahead of you. Instead, celebrate reaching your goals at your own pace and keep setting more.

Get the Tools You Need for Your Recovery Journey

Pathway to Hope has created treatment programs that give you the motivation you need to continue succeeding and thriving in your recovery. From therapy, life skills training, and relapse prevention programs to our aftercare and alumni programs, you receive the support you need to continue to be empowered.

At Pathway to Hope, we understand that treatment is only the first step on a long journey through recovery, and we’re here to help every step of the way. If you or someone you know needs addiction treatment or support while in recovery, call us anytime, day or night at 844-557-8575 or contact us online.

How Dangerous is Complacency in Recovery?

For those who have been clean and sober for a considerable length of time, their recovery almost feels like second nature. They are able to work their individual program of recovery and keep it front and center while they squeeze the most of their daily life. After a while, however, recovery can feel like a routine, and boredom and complacency can set in. For the recovering addict, complacency in dangerous and can be a solid sign that a relapse is just around the bend. We often hear the term complacency, but we may not know the true definition of the word and how it can negatively impact recovery.

What Exactly Is Complacency?

The simple definition of complacency is feeling a sense of contentment and self-satisfaction about where you are at in a certain situation or about life in general. Everyone experiences complacency, and it especially can hit those who are in recovery from drug and alcohol abuse. People who have earned their “clean time” have worked hard and spent many hours in drug treatment and around the tables of 12-step and other sober support groups moving beyond what kept them stuck in their addiction. Celebrating milestones in recovery is an awesome feeling and can leave those who work their recovery every day filled with a great sense of pride and accomplishment.

Beware of the Complacency Trap

complacency in recovery

In all walks of life—and especially in the world of recovery—there is a very fine line between being confident and being complacent. Those who are truly confident in recovery fully understand their fault and weaknesses as well as their strengths. These people continually work to improve themselves every day, honestly address their shortcomings, and look at life in a manner that is realistic. For those who are complacent, however, act confidently—but it is a false sense of confidence. Unlike confident people who work for their success in recovery, those who are complacent feel that success is all but guaranteed and they don’t feel they need to continually strive to move past their addiction.

More often than not, those who are complacent never see trouble that is right under the nose let alone what lies around the bend. Complacent people may have started strong out of the gate when it comes to their recovery, but once they start seeing the fruits of the labor they stop working their program and feel they have everything figured out. That line of thinking is the perfect trap and their addiction can start to gain ground in their rearview mirror. When relapse does occur, people will often sit dumbstruck and wonder what went wrong when everything was going so well. The simple reason they relapse is the fact they forget that addiction is cunning, baffling, and powerful.

Are You Experiencing Complacency in Recovery?

Is your recovery in a rut? Are things beginning to feel like that “same old, same old”? Are you feeling the temptations, triggers, and urges to use starting to dominate your thoughts? If you have answered yes to these questions, chances are good that you are becoming complacent in your recovery. How can you tell exactly? The following signs can point towards complacency settling in your recovery mindset.

You Stop Going to Meetings

Through your lifespan as a recovering person, 12-step meetings act as your lifeline when things get shaky in your sobriety. After a period of time, you may feel that you have outgrown the need to be present at group meetings. As a result, you stop going to those meetings altogether. This is an obvious trap that you can fall into, and if you continue to avoid meetings the urges and cravings to use drugs and alcohol often come back with a vengeance. While life does happen and the daily grind can interfere with our meeting schedule, we must find ways to make meetings a continued cornerstone of recovery.

You Stop Serving Others

Oftentimes we often hear that recovery is “a selfish program”—and this is correct, to a certain degree. It is paramount that in early recovery we place our energy and focus on ourselves and doing what we need to in order to become clean and sober. As we become more comfortable in our sobriety; however, we must share our experiences with others who may be struggling in recovery. We immerse ourselves in volunteer work or maybe we become sponsors to a newcomer. When complacency sets in, the focus on sharing and being of service to others starts to play second fiddle to our wants and desires. While there is nothing wrong with taking care of your needs, once it becomes all about you then it becomes a problem.

You Stop Taking Advice

Experiencing success in recovery can feel wonderful but it also can make us feel too confident. In early recovery, we relied on the advice and suggestions of those who were established in their own recovery—and their words and actions provided a blueprint for us to follow. When you achieve a significant amount of clean time of your own and start reaping the rewards of your hard work, you may feel that you don’t need to take someone’s advice and that you can handle your own affairs. Once you lose accountability for yourself and feel that you don’t have to learn or don’t have to be taught, that is when you know that complacency has set in and relapse may be near.

Great Drug Treatment Gives You the Tools You Need to Keep Moving Forward in Your Recovery

Complacency can happen in anyone’s recovery at any time. However, with the tools and support you receive from a quality drug rehab center, those moments happen few and far between. As one of the premier drug and alcohol treatment centers in Florida, Pathway to Hope has created treatment programs that give you the motivation you need to continue succeeding and thriving in your recovery. From therapy, life skills training, and relapse prevention programs through to our aftercare and alumni programs, you receive the support you need to continue to be empowered. Call Pathway to Hope at 844-557-8575 or contact us online today and build your life of recovery.