Christmas and New Year can be a very difficult time for anyone with any sort of addiction problem and especially those with alcohol addiction. Drinking to excess is seen as more socially acceptable in the holiday season than it is in the rest of the year, and it often seems like you’re surrounded by people drinking alcohol wherever you go.
The new year is a time when many people commit to making a change and living a healthier lifestyle, however. You don’t have to be in the grip of serious drug addiction to want to make a change but if you are in recovery, or want to take the first steps towards quitting, it can be a good time to take stock and strengthen your resolve.
Making or continuing to maintain that change is not always easy though, so here are some tips to help you keep up recovery in this new year period.
Take It One Day At A Time
Whether you’ve been in recovery for a long period of time, are starting again after failing to stay sober on New Year’s Eve party or are attempting to quit alcohol or drugs for the first time, it’s important to try to take each day as it comes. Recovery is a journey, and it often does not have an endpoint.
For many people staying sober is a conscious decision they make every day. This may seem daunting, but it is often easier to make that commitment every day than thinking about staying sober forever, or even the coming 12 months at this time of year.
If you haven’t been through professionally supervised alcohol or drug detox, it is also likely that you will be suffering from withdrawal symptoms and strong cravings for days and possibly weeks going into the new year. It is always better to go through alcohol detox under medical supervision if possible but it’s always important to take it one day at a time during this crucial period.
Find Activities You Enjoy
Many people who are in the grip of addiction will find their lives starting to revolve around their drinking or drug-taking. Many of their relationships, social groups and activities will involve drugs or alcohol and it can be very difficult to avoid relapse if you are surrounded by all the same people, locations, triggers and temptations as when you were misusing the substance.
It can be difficult to cut people out of your life but it is often necessary, especially if they are not supportive of your newfound sobriety or refuse to tone down or change their behaviour around you.
As well as developing a new social circle of sober friends, it can be useful to develop new hobbies and interests. This can help prevent boredom and keep you occupied but might also lead to you developing genuine passions you didn’t know you had. Drug and alcohol rehab will often encourage you to try techniques such as art or music therapy, which can be good for your mental health and overall well-being.
The same goes for healthy physical activities and exercise but there is no limit on what you could try. Mindfulness, meditation and relaxation techniques can be very helpful for some but you might also want to just try something that’s fun. If you’ve ever wanted to try rock climbing, salsa dancing or taking up guitar, now is as good a time as any!
Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself
It’s always best if you can avoid relapsing but, if you do, it’s important to try to see it as a slip and not the end of your sobriety. Recognising the mistake and learning from it can actually strengthen your recovery moving forward, as long as you are willing to see it in this way. Don’t forget that breaking free from an addiction is a very difficult process and many people who go on to make a long-term recovery will stumble occasionally on the way.
Consider Attending Local NA Or AA Meetings
Support groups such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) can be very valuable for people in recovery, especially in terms of relapse prevention. AA or NA meetings can allow you to meet people who have been through similar recovery journeys in a non-judgemental and supportive environment. Many people have found these organisations’ 12-step programmes to be an effective way to overcome their addictions.
It is not the right choice for everyone though and there are other support groups and charities that can help in your recovery journey. If you attend a rehabilitation centre, a comprehensive aftercare programme can also provide vital support and resources in the weeks and months afterwards.
Enrol In A Treatment Program
Attempting to overcome addiction on your own can be incredibly difficult. Over time, prolonged drinking or drug use can effectively ‘rewire’ your brain and body, affecting things like impulse control and the way your brain processes pleasure and reward. You will also become reliant on the chemicals being present, leading to intense cravings and withdrawal symptoms when you do not get the drugs or alcohol.
It is possible to overcome an addiction without outside help but it is extremely difficult. Many people get stuck in a vicious cycle of trying and failing to quit, or quitting for a short time before repeatedly relapsing. This can be counter-productive, eating away at self-esteem and ultimately fuelling the addiction.
Attending an alcohol or drug rehab is the most effective way of achieving a lasting long-term recovery from a serious addiction as it uses a wide range of therapies and evidence-led treatments.
Undergoing detoxification in rehab can help you get through this vital process safely and effectively, but the therapy treatments will also help you explore the root causes behind your addiction and substance misuse issues. This in turn can help you to change the way you think and behave around drugs or alcohol, helping you to keep up your recovery whether it’s at the start or any other time of the year.