If this is your first Christmas clean/sober, you can expect to feel overwhelmed, sad and a little envious of your friends who can still use. It seems like the whole world is gearing up to party. You might fall into the ‘poor me’ trap that says your days of fun are over. As your old friend’s rev up for drink/drug/party, you want to crawl into bed and avoid everyone.

Maintaining your sobriety throughout the holidays can challenging because it appears as if everyone is tilting, or doping, but that’s not true.

23 million North Americans will remain abstinent throughout this holiday season and will have a good time doing it. No one would stay clean and sober if it were dull and boring. Recovery is a lot of fun. But for fun to occur you need to do things differently.

So how can you protect your sobriety this Christmas and still have fun? Below are 4 suggestions to help you.

1) Avoid the club/bar scenes and your old using friends. You’re tight with your using friends. You’ve known them forever, but they’re not safe to hang out with anymore. Keep in mind, you’ve changed, and they haven’t. Watching people get wasted and over-indulging is not a good idea when newly clean and sober. Your chances of staying abstinent in your old using haunts are slim.

2) Hang out with your clean/sober friends. Take in a meeting. In the rooms, you’ll find people just like you. Recovering addicts who have exited the gates of hell and are grateful to be alive. Your new friends know how you feel and where you’ve been. They’ve walked in your shoes, and there isn’t anything you can’t tell them. Guys and gals in recovery know how to have fun. Even better, you’ll wake up tomorrow morning with a grin on your face. You’ll feel fantastic, and you’ll remember it all.

3) Start a new tradition. Hang an ornament on your tree with your sobriety date on it. Then stand back and take it in. You’re alive. You’re a miracle. You’ve worked hard. Take a minute and let that sink in. Ask yourself how you can give back. Giving back increases your sense of community and takes you out of the self-absorption of addiction. Doing something for someone else this year will get you out of your head and increase your sense of well-being.

4) Play the tape all the way through. You might not remember why you started using drugs or alcohol, but never forget why you quit. You may be triggered and feel strong urges to use. You might engage in euphoric recall remembering the good times, but don’t stop there. Play the tape ALL THE WAY THROUGH. Yes, that first drink, pill, snort or shot will feel good. But what happens after that? MORE. If you could be a social user, you would be. However, your days of using socially are long gone. If you pick up now, you pick up where you left off, and it gets worse from there. That’s if you’re lucky. Many who relapse never make it back.

My biggest fear in early recovery was that I would never have fun again. I was so sure my life would be dull and boring, but that wasn’t the case. I found out I was wrong in rehab. It was there that I had my first real belly laugh. I hadn’t laughed like that since childhood. My conscience was clean and tears welled in my eyes. My laughter spoke volumes,  it said… I love being alive!

Christmas will pass. Cravings end. Don’t suffer in silence. If you’re struggling tell your friends and family. Go to a meeting. Share your thoughts and feelings with your support group, because the foundation you build today is preparing you for a beautiful life tomorrow. Don’t don’t take shortcuts, stay the course and you will love your life again!

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