Over the holidays, our phones are constantly bombarded by pictures of our friends going out, a distant relative getting engaged, or some inspirational quote. But right below the cute photo of the goldendoodle – which gets our like everytime! – there’s usually some “How to Survive the Holidays” article.
You know the one we’re talking about… It’s usually written by someone who’s not in recovery but still attempts to lay out what you should do to remain sober during the holidays.
For those of us in recovery, these are common place. And for years, we’ve clicked on these articles and read the same words over and over again.
Often times these articles are good-spirited, and only meant to encourage its readers to stay sober. And for every boring, repetitive, Buzzfeed-style article, there’s an occasional good one! However, many tend to offer middle of the road views on how alcoholics or addicts should behave during the holidays.
At Stonegate Center, our philosophy is centered around a 12-Step Program and Christian principles. And we feel it’s our job to dispel any inconsistencies or myths offered by those how-to articles. To do so, I reached out to Stephanie, my co-worker and sister in long-term recovery, to compile a list of our Top 5 Holiday Survival Guide Myths.
We hope you enjoy our list!
Myth #1: Avoid places with alcohol.
The beauty of the 12-Step Program is the promise that we, as people in recovery, can go anywhere a “normal” person can go once we have fully recovered. This is a testament to one’s spiritual fitness, or the freedom from any mental obsession to drink or use attained through working the program.
It’s important to note that to obtain spiritual fitness, we must actively work a 12-Step Program. This spiritual condition does not come from passivity or observation; it comes from active engagement and improvement. By fully engaging in the 12-Steps, we’re able to remove all temptation that previously came from drugs and alcohol.
This attitude prompts us to lead normal lives, in which we don’t have to tip-toe around others. True sobriety allows us to be free at last.
Myth #2: Spend the holidays with your sober friends, not family.
One of the main goals of sobriety is to be active participants in our loved ones’ lives. Unfortunately, we were absent long enough when we were drinking and using. In making our amends, we made a commitment to show up differently. And today, we get to be present. We are blessed to be able to spend time with our spouses, children, and extended family.
Sobriety isn’t supposed to handicap us, y’all. It’s meant to bolster us. And where some people view sobriety as a scarlet letter, we view it as a badge of honor. True sobriety grants us the ability to achieve our full potential and become better, more balanced people.
On the other hand, if our family of origin is unhealthy, we should not feel obligated to engage in that dysfunction. Stay steadfast in your sobriety, and don’t let others dictate your actions.
As for our sober friends, we love you too! And, you’re more than welcome to celebrate the holidays with us. Our recovered friends have become some of our closest allies and confidants, and we think of them as family too. So, come on over! Just don’t eat all our pie…
Myth #3: Come up with an excuse as to why you’re not drinking.
Some excuses we’ve read include:
→“I’m the DD tonight.”
→“I’m on medication I can’t drink with.”
→“I’ve already had one.”
But, why the misdirection? It’s true our 12-Step traditions emphasize anonymity. And yes, you do have a choice of whether you reveal that you’re in recovery. However, it’s not the 1940’s anymore, bud. We don’t have to hide.
In our experience, the honest approach works better than people imagine. Once you get over your fear of the occasional judgment, saying you’re in recovery can actually be one of the best conversation starters.
We have no shame that we are in recovery. In fact, you’d be surprised how many questions we get asked once people hear we’re sober!
So that means you don’t drink? What made you get help? I have a friend who’s addicted to alcohol, any advice?
Most people genuinely seem interested in our stories and often have nothing but kind things to say. We get to be powerful examples of how God works, and our primary purpose is to help others. We don’t know what about our story could be helpful to someone else if we refuse to share it.
Try it. Remember, we’re meant to be free.
Myth #4: Avoid high stress situations.
Unfortunately, life = stress. Whether it’s in work, school, or family life, stress is unavoidable. The holidays are no exception. But, a huge part of recovery is learning how to handle difficult situations with dignity and grace. A byproduct of working a recovery program (aka getting connected to God) is the ability to handle stressful or uncomfortable situations.
Our basic text tells us that there will be trials and low spots ahead. The idea that we will be able to avoid these is naive, and unfortunately, sets us up for failure. Our ability to walk through these experiences is a testament of God’s omnipotence.
Myth #5: Have your sponsor on speed dial / Hit as many meetings as you can.
As 12-Step warriors, we understand that the world does not revolve around us. Therefore, we cannot have the expectation that our sponsors will be there at our beck and call. Don’t get us wrong: sponsors are great resources, and we encourage you to utilize them.
But, it is imperative that we use God as our unwavering source of recovery, not simply meetings or people. The common misconception is that we need these things to be okay. It’s not the meetings or people that help us maintain sobriety. It’s the active engagement in a 12-Step Program and our reliance upon God that aids us in achieving long-term sobriety.
But, if you want to put your sponsor on speed dial, go for it! Just be mindful that the holiday season affects everybody, sponsors and sponsees equally, so they might not return your call immediately.
Consider these myths BUSTED!
Our knowledge on this topic comes from many years of experience working a 12-Step Program. We hope we can start changing the perception of what recovery really looks like.
For our readers struggling with addiction right now, there’s hope! A 12-Step Program saved our lives. To get help overcoming your drug and alcohol addiction, call our Admissions Specialists at (817) 993-9733. And, feel free to ask for Allison or Stephanie. We’d be more than happy to talk with you personally.
If not, DM us! You can find us on Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn.
Thanks for reading, guys. We hope you have a fun, sober holiday season.
Allison Johnson (L) is the Director of Compliance for Stonegate Center. She is a recovered alcoholic and addict with over 7 years sober. Her experience in residential treatment extends to her love of all things compliance and quality assurance. Stephanie Griffin (R) is the Program Director for Stonegate Center Hilltop. Her personal journey of recovery began in 2012 and allows her to connect with clients and their families on personal level. She is passionate about 12-Step recovery blended with high-accountability programming.