This time of year is a tricky one for many people in recovery. You may have some extra time off of work or received an invitation to a few holiday parties. A lot of things may test your integrity when it comes to your recovery. How do you stay clean when other people are "partying" around you? What are the best ways to make sure that you will not relapse or a make a bad decision that you may regret?
Holiday parties are very popular and there is a chance that you may be invited to a few. If you are new to recovery and are worried about this, it is completely normal. Being in a party setting when you are newly clean can easily become a trigger. How do you go and be social without the worry of relapsing? First off, it is important to tell yourself that relapsing is not an option. If it is possible and you are open about your recovery, make it clear to those at the party that you are in fact in recovery and sober. When people know this, they will not offer you alcohol or other things that may jeopardize your sobriety. They may want to talk about it with you and they may even have questions. Do not be embarrassed that you are in recovery, look at as an opportunity to educate those who are unaware of your situation.
If you are uncomfortable going to the party alone bring someone that is also in recovery to be your sidekick. You do not have to disclose that you are in recovery when you have a sober buddy, because your friend will be there as your support. Having someone that is in the same shoes as you will allow the both of you to gain strength from each other. You can talk about certain things that may bother you without it becoming an issue. Just make sure that the two of you do not make yourselves outcasts. Most importantly never judge people that are able to have a few drinks socially. Just because you can not handle a mind altering substance does not mean you need to judge others for their drinking.
One of the most important pieces of advice I can give you before you attend a party is to have an escape plan. It is extremely important to be able to get out of the party at a moments notice. Do not get dropped off at the party without a means of getting home. If you ride with someone there and they want to leave, go with them. If you have a car then drive yourself so you know that if something triggers you and you become uncomfortable, you will be able to leave immediately. You never want to be stuck in a situation where you have the urge to use. You've made it this far, it's important that you remain vigilant and stay on the path to sobriety.
The holidays are a time to spend with friends and family. Make sure you spend a little extra time with those that were there for you and believed in you. Most people will be so excited to see you back to your old self or even a happier you than they have ever seen. Enjoy this time of year but remember that your recovery is paramount. Stay strong and have a wonderful holiday season!