Celebrating the New Year in Sobriety

Ocean wave washing over 2020 as 2021 appears in the sand

As 2020 comes to an end, and as we gear up to enter 2021, many of us are left feeling confused, empty, stressed, and exhausted as this year has been one of the most challenging years in current history. The global pandemic has taken too many lives and livelihoods to count. Many of us no longer trust our government leaders. Neighbors and friends have pinned themselves against each other because of our opposing views on COVID-19. This pandemic has led to a mental health and addiction crisis. We have consumed more alcohol than normal, we have turned to drugs and the bottle to soothe our pain and we may even have lost our sobriety due to the insurmountable amount of stress and devastation that we, as a society have experienced. But with difficult challenges, devastations and hardships come growth, new beginnings, and strength. For those of us who have slipped out of sobriety or who have given up in our recovery, a new year means that we have a chance to begin again. For those of us who became addicted to drugs or alcohol for the first time, 2021 can be a chance to enter into recovery. We have a chance to celebrate a New Year in sobriety, so let’s take it.

Reflect on your journey

Now that 2020 is nearly in the rearview mirror, we can take time to reflect on this past year by expressing gratitude for our accomplishments and by taking accountability for our mistakes. Maybe we stayed strong in our recovery and if so, we should celebrate. Or maybe we relapsed or were in the deepest throes of our addiction. Whatever we encountered in 2020, whether good or bad, we should take this time to reflect, learn, celebrate, and set new goals. After all, without failure, we cannot have success and without success, we will never have growth. 

Find your tribe

Social gatherings quickly turned into virtual gatherings through this past year and many of us lost loved ones and friends due to this pandemic, due to different political views, and due to the sorrows of addiction. Whether it is remembering old friends, making new friends, and/or strengthening the bonds we already have with our friends, 2021 should be a year of focusing on embracing a strong support group. Without support from others, we cannot be successful in recovery in this upcoming year as successful recovery takes a village and we need to work on rebuilding and strengthening that village. 

Take accountability

Part of having a New Year in sobriety means taking accountability for our actions, whether good or bad. 

  • Find an accountability partner: Most treatment centers emphasize the importance of having an accountability partner; an individual who understands our struggle, supports our efforts, and refuses to be an enabler. It’s not just about having someone to turn to when we are feeling a trigger. Having an accountability partner also helps us tackle the detrimental effects of secrecy and isolation while sticking to our accountability decision.
  • Create a personal accountability statement/journal: Write down why you are choosing to be accountable for your sobriety and what the risks will be if you do not keep that promise to yourself.
  • Learn your triggers and create healthy coping skills to handle them
  • Find assistive technologies that work for you: Online support platforms and smartphone apps have opened many new doors to easy and economical ways to track our sobriety status and stay connected to those who can support our recovery. 
  • Consider entering addiction treatment: Being successful in our sobriety and recovery in 2021 means that we should ask for help if we have not already. Although there is no “cure” for addiction, there are many steps and coping skills we can adopt to stay in recovery. Addiction treatment will give you the necessary steps to enter recovery. After all, we need mental health and addiction professionals to guide us through our journey, and by investing in an addiction treatment center in 2021, we are not only investing in our recovery but we are also investing in ourselves. 
  • Celebrate your successes, even the small ones
  • Share your successes with others 

Set goals for the coming year

Making New Year’s resolutions is a perfect opportunity to make goals for this coming year. Whether it is connecting with more people, taking more time to yourself, learning a new hobby, moving your body more, or joining an addiction recovery support group, setting new goals can help keep you accountable in 2021.

Ring in the New Year in sobriety

New Year’s Eve is often celebrated with friends and alcohol, however, this does not have to be the case, especially for those who are in recovery or who are choosing to stay sober for any other reason. New Year’s Eve can mean game nights, sleeping under the stars in a tent, cooking an elaborate dinner at home with friends, watching a movie, or having a sober party. 

Quest 2 Recovery: Center for Addiction and Mental Health

As treatment professionals, it is our job to reach out to those who are struggling this holiday season and throughout this pandemic. We want to see you succeed in your recovery journey in the New Year. If you are struggling with a mental health or substance use disorder, we want to help you. We at Quest2Recovery, want to treat you, the individual, and not just your disorder. We want to break the mold, set the standard, and be role models for the rest of the addiction treatment industry. We want to invite you to seek help in a compassionate, non-judgmental environment.

Addiction Recovery During the Holidays

Holiday candles to light the room

This holiday season is especially unprecedented as we navigate through a global pandemic. This pandemic has taken lives and livelihoods and has severely damaged the economy while testing everyone’s mental health and sobriety. Addiction recovery during the holidays can be especially challenging as holiday parties and alcohol often surround us and this holiday season is no different. This holiday season, we are told to stay home, avoid family gatherings but now restaurants and stores are delivering alcohol to our doorsteps, making the temptation to drink even greater, especially if we are struggling with loneliness and depression. Staying home for the holidays can be challenging, especially for those who usually spend this time of year gathering and celebrating with loved ones. After all, we as humans are social creatures and we need to be around others for our mental and emotional wellness. This time of year is also difficult for those who are struggling with loss, financial hardships, and strained family relationships as the holiday season can be a reminder of all of these things. So how can we take better care of ourselves during this holiday season while living this pandemic?

Holiday survival guide for addiction

Addiction recovery and the holidays can be a challenging combination, especially if we are struggling with isolation, depression, and recovery. However, with the right mindset, healthy coping tools, and support groups; we can learn to adapt and grow during this time of year. 

Your sobriety is your priority: Your recovery is a lifelong process and is the most important aspect of your life. As a result, you must continue to honor your recovery by working the steps, connecting with strong role models, leaning on your support system, and eliminating any distractions or negativity that can interfere with your sobriety. This also means taking care of your mental health as mental health and addiction often go hand-in-hand. Take notice of your emotions and thoughts as you move through this holiday season. If you find that you are having troubling thoughts and negative emotions, write them down and try to find a pattern of any underlying triggers. It could be stress, negative people in your life, putting yourself in unhealthy situations, or loneliness. 

Stay in treatment: Maybe you finished your detoxification and inpatient treatment and are on the road to recovery or maybe you are still in treatment. Regardless of where you are on your recovery path, it is important to continue treatment whether it is outpatient teletherapy treatment once a week, outpatient group treatment, or residential treatment. Keeping in contact with your addiction or mental health therapist can help you brush up on your coping skills and the tools you need to be successful in recovery, especially around this time of year. The holiday season, especially this year, is not the time to take a break from treatment, regardless of where you are on your recovery journey. 

Get connected: Your support group is extremely important throughout your recovery process and even more so during this holiday season. Lean in on your friends, family, and fellow recovery peers for advice, comfort, and companionship. Engaging with a community recovery group is also helpful to connect with like-minded individuals who are going through a similar journey. During this pandemic, take advantage of virtual technology to engage with your support group and your friends. Programs such as FaceTime, Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype, and other free video calling platforms are important to be able to connect with individuals face-to-face while you are sheltering at home during this pandemic. 

Get outside: Mother Nature is healing and spending time outdoors can help clear your mind and gain focus. Whether it is taking a walk, having a social distance picnic gathering at a park, camping, skiing, hiking, or going for a bike ride or run; take time each day to get outdoors. If you combine physical fitness with outdoor activity, that is even more beneficial as moving your body is a healthy coping skill that can help you in your recovery. Spending time outdoors has been shown to reduce depression and anxiety and be a form of meditation. 

Quest 2 Recovery: Center for Addiction and Mental Health

As treatment professionals, it is our job to reach out to those who are struggling this holiday season and throughout this pandemic. Addiction recovery during the holidays is important not only for your sobriety but also for your mental health. If you are struggling with a mental health or substance use disorder, we want to help you. We at Quest2Recovery, want to treat you, the individual, and not just your disorder. We want to break the mold, set the standard, and be role models for the rest of the addiction treatment industry. We want to invite you to seek help in a compassionate, non-judgmental environment.

Holidays in Recovery

The holidays should be a time for gathering, celebrating, expressing gratitude, and reflecting. Still, they often bring stress and worry, especially to those struggling with underlying issues such as substance abuse. The first year of sobriety, especially during the holiday season, can be a sea of ups and downs. Emotions can range from gratefulness and happiness to confusion and agony. It is common to reflect on past holiday seasons where alcohol or drugs were used as a crutch to numb the pain or avoid stressful family gatherings and office holiday parties. The holidays may hold some triggers, meaning that specific memories, people, and places can bring up urges and cravings. Being nervous about your first holiday season in recovery is entirely normal. Below are a few tips that can help you survive your first sober holiday season:

 

Be prepared to answer the question, “why are you not drinking.”

For many, the holidays are a time to celebrate, which often coincides with having one too many eggnogs or glasses of champagne. If you were a social drinker and now you are not, people may notice and ask you about it, especially if they are unaware that you quit drinking. It will most likely be a common question, especially if you attend holiday parties or gatherings. This question may make you feel flustered or stressed or may even take you off guard, so it is essential to prepare an answer beforehand. Ultimately, it is your decision whether you want to tell others about your recovery. If you are not yet comfortable sharing this journey with strangers, tell them that you are driving or trying to take better care of your health. 

 

Take pride in your recovery

Holidays in recovery can be challenging. You may get asked a few questions from family and friends during holiday gatherings about your recovery. Most people are unaware of the recovery journey unless they know someone who had this experience. As a result, you may be asked a handful of questions. This is your chance to educate others and break down the stigma associated with substance abuse and treatment. Try to view this as an opportunity to take pride in sharing your successful recovery journey instead of feeling like others are being intrusive about your sobriety. By telling your story, you will most likely encourage others to be honest about their struggles and successes. 

 

Establish clear boundaries

Be aware that you are may feel the urge to drink, especially in a social situation where alcohol is being served. It is essential to be picky about which holiday functions you attend and which people you choose to spend time around. Some places and people may be more triggering than others, and as a result, set boundaries with who you spend the holidays with. If this means skipping the annual office holiday party or not attending a family function, then be able to accept that. Additionally, if an individual starts making you uncomfortable about your recovery, then it is crucial to stand up for yourself and quickly exit that situation. You should never allow others to judge you regarding your recovery journey. 

 

Have an emergency plan

Holidays in recovery means having a plan. It is important to keep your friends and therapist in the loop, or on speed dial. You may need a quick exit strategy or an emergency therapy session if you suddenly feel triggered. Have an emergency plan in place, in case you feel the desire to drink or use. This may consist of retreating to a quiet place to journal, calling your therapist, attending a sobriety group meeting, or talking openly to a trusted friend. 

 

Set realistic expectations

You may feel tempted to drink, especially when holiday gatherings with family members become stressful. Be aware that these feelings may come and should pass. You also may miss drinking or may feel lonely without your old drinking buddies. Acknowledge that the holidays are stressful and may even be more so when you are new in recovery. Make sure you take care of yourself by practicing the things you love. Be prepared to have a rollercoaster of feelings and emotions and be ready to handle these emotions healthily.