5 Tips For Staying Sober Over The Festive Season

Whether this is going to be your first sober Christmas or your 10th you need to put a little bit of thought and effort into how you are going to manage the upcoming festive season.

Over the Christmas period and New Years Eve the alcohol flows, the parties are pumping and drugs are encountered more often at social gatherings. Even addicts and alcoholics with long time recovery will be facing these challenges.

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5 Tis For Staying Sober Over The Festive Season

Have A Plan

Make sure to plan your Christmas and News Years Eve festivities long in advance. If you are new to recovery and facing your first sober festive season you may feel at a bit of a loss. Very likely previous festive seasons were rather drunk and debortuous.

The best way to spend your first Christmas and New Years Eve is with other recovering alcoholics and addicts that understand exactly what you are going through. You need to be around people that are sober and that can show you how to have fun without alcohol and drugs. You need to create new memories and experiences to look back on.

Chances are high that you are not in contact with all the people that you were using with and drinking with. Being in recovery is about doing things differently and surrounding yourself with the winners.

Many groups in recovery hold sober parties over the festive season – make sure you know where and when they are and make a commitment to join.

If you are going to spend Christmas with family make sure that you plan ahead, that you are aware of your triggers and how you are going to cope. Talk to your family, recovery sponsor and counselor about your relapse prevention plan. The more support you have the better.

Be prepared for the conflicting feelings you will have. Chances are high that you are going to be feeling a lot of uncomfortable and often conflicting feelings. You may feel sad, lonely, angry, anxious and even excited. All of these feelings can be triggers. Have a plan in place for dealing with these feelings.

Christmas Tree decoration

Stay Active & Busy

Stay active during the holidays both with activities to do, but also with physical activity that will be good for you health. Find things to do that will give you a full body exercise as well as provide fun and entertainment.

Go hiking, mountain biking or any other outdoor activities – get yourself out there into nature. It will do you the world of good.

Another great way to stay clean is to read recovery literature – you can read the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book which gives a lot of recovery information, along with personal stories from alcoholics. There are also lots of books written by alcoholics and addicts that will give you strength, inspiration and understanding of addiction.


You need to keep yourself busy and, just as important, you need to create new memories to look back on. It is so common for addicts and alcoholics to think back to their drinking and using days, remembering only the fun parts and leaving out all the damages and chaos that came with it. Building new and happy memories of sober festive seasons will make it easier to face each time.

Stay Connected With Your Support System

If you are a member of Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, SMART recovery group or any other recovery group such as through your church make sure to stay connected and attend meetings throughout the holidays.

If you went to a drug rehab center contact them and find out if they have anything planned for the festive season that you can attend.

If you are going away on holiday find out if that area has any recovery groups, chances are very high that they do. Just because you are on holiday does not mean you can forget about your recovery program – you will need it more than ever.

Make sure you have a sober buddy on call that you can phone at any time if you feel like having a drug or taking drugs. You may even want to have a sober buddy for the holidays – you can help each other stay sober and attend events together. It is so much easier to stay sober when you are not alone.

Woman wrapping Christmas gift

People, Places & Things

I’m sure you’ve heard this before over and over again – but it must be said again. You need to avoid the people, places and things associated with your using. Be very careful about the events that you attend, pay careful attention to who may be going to events that you would like to go to and make sure that you stay away from any places that may trigger you.

How To Cope Being Offered Alcohol/ Drugs

Chances are high that no matter what you do or where you go, at some stage during the festive season, someone may offer you a drink or a drug.

Make sure that you have a response prepared rather than being caught by surprise not knowing what to say. You may be comfortable with saying you can’t drink, but you may not want to tell people yet why you are not drinking. That is fine if you don’t want to give the real reason, but a response lined up and ready.

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Addiction and Treating The Underlying Causes Of Destructive Behaviour

It is a misconception that addiction is all about the drug. Many people believe that once an addict is clean from a drug the hard part is done and dusted and the process of staying off the drugs is easy. This could not be further from the truth. In most cases for an addict the easiest part is getting clean from his drug of choice and the hard part is staying clean and learning how to live without his drug of choice.

Yes it is true that some addicts struggle with getting physically clean from their drug of choice and depending on the drug the addict may need a medically assisted detox. This can make the process of getting clean tough, however the real hard work begins when the addict is considered sober and then has to face life and reality without drugs.

Addiction and Treating The Underlying Cause Of Destructive Behaviour

Trauma and Addiction

According to studies two thirds of drug addicts that seek treatment report being sexually, physically and/ or emotionally abused during childhood.

When a child is growing up his circumstances and experiences will certainly impact his physical and psychological development. Very often these issues are not resolved during childhood and unless dealt with as part of the addiction recovery process these issues will continue to add to the addict’s self destructive behavior.

There is also a link between PTSD and addiction. About 50 – 60% of people that suffer from PTSD have addiction problems, the reverse is true too where. Anyone that has gone through a very traumatic event, like rape, often suffers from PTSD and/ or other psychological problems.

This much is clear – the relationship between substance abuse and trauma is closely intertwined. Click here to find out more about trauma and addiction treatment.

Childhood abuse alcoholism

Trauma During Addiction

Now while it is clear that trauma and addiction are closely linked showing that trauma may contributing to addictive behaviors there is another side to it. While an addict is in active addiction there are countless more traumatic moments. Some severe and some not so severe but still traumatic.

Addicts are well known for wrecking their own lives and the lives of those that they love. Someone that is normally a calm and loving person yet addicted to drugs, may become aggressive and abusive towards his family.

It is simply not possible for an addictive to have a healthy relationship with anyone. Love relationships will be destructive and toxic and most likely with a partner that is also an addict.

Losing a job, losing a home, getting a divorce and being arrested are all terribly traumatic things to happen to anyone and chances are that if you are an addict you have done every single one of these, often more than once.

Very often an addict has a dual diagnosis which means that he suffers from a mental disorder as well as the addiction. This is hardly surprising since going through so much trauma will inevitably lead to things like anxiety, depression, PTSD and more. Drugs and alcohol can also change the chemistry of the brain to even further complicate matters.

Individual Counselling session

 The Importance Of Dealing With Underlying Issues

Focusing on the causes of destructive behaviors is essential during the process of recovery from addiction. Treating the cause of the destructive behaviors and not just the symptoms will help addicts to achieve and maintain long term recovery.

In order to prevent relapse it is essential for addicts to receive trauma counselling to deal with unresolved issues.

Family therapy is also vitally important to recovery from addiction. Family relations will no doubt have suffered damage during the course of addiction. Very often the addict is not the only person in the family that has suffered from trauma and these family patterns will have destructive effects if they are not addressed during therapy.

Very often family members of the addict are addicts themselves, or codependents that are enabling the addicts behaviour.

The addict needs to not only deal with the underlying issues surrounding his addiction, but also be taught new ways of coping with emotional pain, stress and anxiety that has resulted from trauma but also from every day events, so that he can cope with life in a healthy way when leaving treatment for addiction.

When the addict recognizes and understand the triggers and reasons behind them that drive him to use he can start applying the healthy coping skills learned in treatment to help prevent relapsing. Click here to read more about relapse prevention.

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Getting Through My Miscarriage (Mostly) Sober

This year started off so well for me. I even wrote a blog on Wealthy Affiliate titled 2018 Is Going To Be Amazing because business was coming in and I was feeling so positive. 2018 was going to be the year it all came together for me. I could feel it!

Just two weeks later I found myself in hospital finding out that I was pregnant (huge shock here since I was sterilized), I was losing my baby and my life was in danger. I had an ectopic pregnancy, which is where the fetus embeds outside the womb. There is no chance the baby will be able to make it because it was in my tube and my tube had ruptured. I had internal bleeding and if they didn’t operate I would die.

Honestly I drove to hospital convinced that my appendix had burst and praying for anything else. Funny how you pray for something and then realize that the first option would have been so much easier.

Getting Through My Miscarriage (Mostly) Sober

If you have been following my blog or read my ebook then you will know that my addiction has taken me to some dark and ugly places. The thing is that this experience I went through less than 2 months ago was so intensely painful, it beats anything that I have ever been through hands down. I’ve been beaten, I’ve been abused and I’ve been raped. And I’m still standing… but this miscarriage brought me to my knees.

I didn’t want another baby, that is why I had my tubes cut when my son was born in 2013. But that doesn’t change how I felt when I found out I was pregnant. It was a shock, but it was my baby. Then I was losing it. Having that come at me out of the blue knocked me so flat I can’t even describe the feeling.

One of the big things for me being an addict is that I struggle to cope with intense feelings. My coping mechanism for so many years was drugs and alcohol that it can be very hard for me to sit with uncomfortable feelings and just feel them.

After my opI remember clearly lying on the operating table feeling the anesthetics stinging in my arm, about to knock me out. Tears rolling out of my eyes, wondering how on earth I got to this place. I was just feeling the shock and it felt like seconds later when I woke up vomiting and crying. It was done, my baby was gone.

A few hours after the operation a doctor came in to see me and he said he sees on my chart I am an addict and that I have been prescribed an anti-inflammatory and paracetamol, but he just wants me to know that if I do need it he has prescribed morphine. I was nauseas, emotional and in pain. I told him thank you, I will let him know.

I closed my eyes and I thought about the absolutely divine oblivion that morphine would bring me. All this pain would magically go away, I could block the events of the last few hours out.

It dawned on me suddenly that not once did I think about the physical pain while considering taking morphine, I didn’t care about the physical pain. I wanted my mind to be blotto. I wanted respite from the emotional and spiritual pain I was in.


When the doctor came back to check on me I asked him to please scratch out the morphine on my chart. I must not have it. It hurt just saying that to him. I was going to do this the hard way, the recovery way. Have I said yet how much I resent paracetamol? I’m not sure but really I do. When everyone else is getting all the good stuff I get paracetamol after an operation. That stuff doesn’t even work for a headache… but I will take them anyway and just hope that they do something.

A week after my operation I went to my GP for a checkup and he said I had a slight infection so I was put on antibiotics. He asked me how the pain was and I told him awful so he gave me some more meds. I barely looked at the meds, I was struggling to cope and I have had the same GP for nearly 7 years.

That was on a Monday afternoon. On the Wednesday afternoon at about 4pm I started feeling edgy, anxious and short tempered. I checked my watch to see if it was time for my meds… still a few hours till meds time. Then I started grinding my teeth…. and connected the dots. My husband was home early and I asked him to please check the medication. He came back to me and said it doesn’t look like there is anything addictive. But I knew. I could feel it. The hunger. I asked him to check everything in it online for me please.

I was too jittery and uncomfortable to do it myself. I was in the bedroom and I kept the door closed.

He came back and told me it has Tramadol in it. Geez I even published a blog post on my website about Tramadol. Forehead slap.

I couldn’t believe it had taken me 3 days to realize I was high. I felt so darn stupid. Then again I had been feeling dissociated a lot since the operation, so maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on myself.

I phoned my mother to let her know, just to be on the safe side. Who knows what might happen even though I have  years clean time behind me. It was a little scary. I looked up the withdrawal symptoms of Tramadol and it looked quite rotten but I had not been taking more than was prescribed and it was only 3 days of use.

I take Seroquel in small doses to help me with my insomnia and when I am struggling with my bipolar disorder or under a lot of stress I chat to my doctor and increase my Seroquel dosage for a while.

I got hold of my GP on whatsapp and let him know he gave me addictive medication and asked if I could double up my Seroquel for the night to get myself to sleep and he said that is fine, along with an apology.

Fortunately I fell asleep quite quickly and aside from feeling a little but ditsy for a couple of days I coped fine, thankfully.

Beautiful white and pink flowers

A number of people have told me that I should take this further with my GP but really this is as much my responsibility in my eyes. Every time I get prescribed medication I have always reminded my GP and when I ask the pharmacist for over the counter medication I always tell him too. When I get home with any new medication I always do a final check before taking anything.

This time I did none of those things, I was prescribed medication and I came home and took it. It is a lesson for me to never left my guard up. My recovery is my responsibility.

The funny thing is that when the physical pain starting easing up it was awful. When I was in physical pain it took my attention away from  my emotional pain. When the physical pain was gone then I started having to face what I was feeling emotionally. It reminded me of when I used to cut myself to get away from what I was feeling.

It’s been 7+ weeks since my miscarriage and things are a lot easier now. For the first few weeks it was such a roller-coaster of pain and tears. I did write about my miscarriage on my parenting blog 10 days after it happened, but I couldn’t quite get the courage or strength to share about it here too until now.


Here are some of the things that helped me to get through this awful experience sober (or mostly anyway):

  • Talking about my feelings with my husband, mom, sisters and close girlfriends.
  • Writing – both on my blog and in my journal.
  • Being kind to myself – avoiding negative self talk and being loving towards myself.
  • Resting and allowing myself to be sad. Letting myself cry when I felt overwhelmed.
  • Having a session with my counselor when I got out of hospital.
  • Remembering that this is a process and my healing won’t be in a straight line.
  • Allowing myself to grieve for my lost baby.

There are still so many moments of sadness and lots of tears. I can hardly think about what happened without shedding some tears.

Life is going to throw curve balls and even in long term recovery there will be tough moments. Being clean doesn’t mean that things are always going to be easy, in fact some of the hard moments are really intense, but I don’t need drugs or alcohol to blot them out. I can face them and I can get through it in one piece.

What hard things have you had to face in recovery?

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