How to Survive the Holidays Clean and Sober

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Podcast Transcription

I just want to say welcome and thank you for joining us on our first podcast. And the topic that I wanted to discuss was what do I do and how do I survive the holidays in recovery, Clean and sober. I’ve been in recovery for 29 years and my sobriety birthday is January 25th, 1989. So in January I will celebrate 30 years of recovery and this has been a topic, from the first day I got sober all the way up until the current day.

When you go to meetings and things like that, you’ll always hear, how tempting and how difficult it is for people to get through the holidays. And a lot of that is just around. There’s a lot of drinking and there’s usually a lot of drug use during the holidays with family, with friends, with, you know, whoever it might be in our inner circle. So here we are in recovery, early in recovery, in recovery. We’re trying to figure out how do I get through the holiday season without relapsing, without going back to drinking or using drugs. There’s a lot of family traditions around holidays. There’s a lot of drinking using around holidays. There’s just a lot of different things going on during this time. And I remember when I first got sober, my sponsor didn’t let me go and participate in any family functions for the first year because of the temptations that were there and the temptations that are found that these types of gatherings.

And so I wasn’t able to participate in any family gatherings or anything like that just for the sake of my sobriety, of my recovery because of the opportunities, that are around the holiday time and you know what, when I brought that up with, with family, you know, my family cared about me so much that they understood that I wasn’t going to be able to come and it was just for one holiday season, and they were really understanding and I think, I think once we can have that discussion with them and we can bring that up, I don’t think our family has a difficulty understanding that, you know, what, I might not be able to come home or I might not be able to come over for the holidays because, you know, I’m just getting clean and sober.

I want to make sure that I’m stable, I’m doing okay, and all that kind of stuff. And I never had any problem. My family didn’t have a problem with that and they totally understood, where most of the holidays before that I was either drunk or loaded and wasn’t there anyway. So it was, it was a it was a pretty easy thing for my family to understand and that’s, that was just for me, it doesn’t mean that that’s what’s going to happen for everybody, um, in their, in their situations because there’s a lot of different scenarios that can happen during the holidays and with family.

One of the things that I, that I did do a sponsor had recommended when I first got sober, at least the first couple of years that if I did go to any kind of family events or family gatherings or during the holiday, that I take a friend in recovery with me so that, that way I would always have somebody there with me for me, got my back up. Things got a little too crazy or just a cravings or temptations or things of that nature. I would have somebody there with me. So when I did start going to these types of things, I would take one or two friends with me and we had a blast. I mean, family. Welcomed them. We had a good time. We didn’t stay that long, we stayed, we enjoyed, we being good, you know, we did all that stuff and then we left and we were, we were really involved during that time, at least my sponsor got us involved in a lot of service.

So we did a lot of service work and we were involved in, you know, during the holidays. One of the things that you know, we can do is just, is this a go to a lot of the 12 step programs have, alcathons, as we called it, where there’s meetings every hour on the hour during the holiday from the, the eve into well into the day, and you could always go and just hang out and there’s usually snacks, food, depending on where you’re going. A lot of the recovery clubs, um, have big things going on and so, so you never have to really go through the holiday by yourself if you’re not choosing to do that, of course it takes willingness and a desire to want to go and participate in these alternative things. But there is a solution if that’s what we are looking for.

So there’s more meetings that you can go to. There’s fellowshipping, a lot of times there’s a lot of a fellowship gatherings and you know, holiday parties at people who are in the program, they have holiday parties, they usually invite people. So there’s, there’s all kinds of different things that you can go to and participate in and all that kind of stuff. So there’s that. Alcathon meeting as I had mentioned, you can get more into service at any of these functions, getting involved in service and giving back is definitely something that I get involved in and just continue going and just doing, just to keep yourself busy and keep your mind from thinking about all kinds of other things, call your sponsor more often, you know, you can call your sponsor to see what they’re doing. If you’re sponsors have other sponsees, so there’s usually some type of holiday gatherings. Depending on how involved you want to go and these things that I’m suggesting are, can be uncomfortable for people, you know what I mean, especially early on in recovery.

If you’re, have you ever, you haven’t gotten yourself to plugged into a 12 step program or anything like that. It can be very challenging, uh, to walk through these days where, you know, rather than staying alone, understanding by yourself, you know, get more into practicing your spirituality, you know, whether it be through prayer meditation, if that’s your thing or not and do more reading. So there’s always, there’s always the basics of the program that we can get more into it and get more involved in that can help us walk through these difficult times of the holidays, you know, and, and, and the longer that I’ve been sober, going through the holidays, I’ve started to create my own, uh, my own traditions within my own family and my kids. And you know, things like that, and you know, at least for the first year or two, it might be a little bit more challenging, but as you stay sober and you started integrating yourself into your program, your recovery, you will start building more of a fellowship and a support system that makes it easier for you to walk through these times of, of times are like the holiday season.

But you know, we can drink and use over anything. So whether it’s the holidays or whether it’s a birthday or kid’s birthday or some death in the family or something like that. These solutions that I’m discussing can be used to help us walk through just about anything that’s going on. One of the things that I like to discuss here at Phoenix rising is what we call the sobriety scale. And the sobriety scale consists of five different parts of, of the program. There is meetings. You can go to 12 step meetings and at these meetings you get to know people, you know, the more you go, if you go early, get to meet people. If you stick around, you get to meet people and you start building your, your support system and at the meetings you’ll hear solutions at the meetings.

If you’re looking for a solution to a problem, there’s a pretty good chance you’re going to hear it at a meeting, you know, for whatever life challenges you got going on or if you’d share about it, about what’s going on at a meeting, people will come up to you after the meeting, you know, and that’s the great thing about going to meetings. One of the other things is getting it service. So once you started going to meetings, and it’s usually kind of the entry point for most people coming into recovery is they start going to meetings first. So that’s the first place that we start. And then we get into, oh, there’s elections there, service positions, there’s things that I can do. There’s a to be a greeter. I could be a setup, a team person, I could be a coffee maker. So there’s all kinds of different service positions that are available, uh, within a particular meeting or a home group that you decide to make your home group and then, you know the next step you’ll start hearing, you should get a sponsor and, get somebody that’s worked the steps, you know, and it has completed and I always suggest at least five years of sobriety.

And selecting a sponsor in somebody that’s worked the steps and that sponsor has a sponsor, you know what I mean? It’s to make sure that that sponsor is able to give you their experiences in recovery, you know, and in working the steps. Um, and that leads me into the next thing of working a 12 step program. So getting into the steps, reading the literature, whether it’d be a big book or 12 and 12 or something, and then reading it and then studying in it and having discussions with their sponsor about what it is that you’re reading. And you can take it a sentence at a time, a paragraph at a time, a chapter at a time. It just depends on you and how you want to integrate the steps into your, into your life. And then, you know, most, you know, most most people will go into, uh, the next step.

The fourth item is spirituality in any 12 step program that will suggest that you, you, you find a, a, a higher power as, as they call it, a, of your own understanding. So you start now, start this journey of kind of digging into, okay, what is my higher power? Who is my higher power, what admire about what is my higher power have, things of that nature. So you start digging into prayer and, and, and maybe even some meditating and you know, things like that and find quiet moments and you know, and things like that. So you can, you can do that. And then fellowshipping, you know, and, and hanging out and building your clean and sober support system, and getting to know people and allowing people to get to know you in recovery. So those are the five items that I discussed are mandatory foundational things.

Anybody coming into recovery from alcoholism and drug addiction should start working on and starting building in their early recoveries and it’s something that has become a, a part of my life and my recovery and it, it becomes something of you as you continue to grow and continue to stick around, these things become stuff that, that you do naturally and it just becomes something that you enjoy, something that you want to do. So that’s really a really good place to start. And like I mentioned, you know, these things will take willingness on your part, a desire to want to change the life of that you got and know that there is a solution, um, and something that you can do during the holidays. So I hope that I’ve been able to give you some basic ideas, some basic solutions or solutions that you can, you can apply and get more involved in, in your early recoveries so that the holidays aren’t so daunting, are so hard, you know and it’s helped me.

It’s helped many other people that I’ve sponsored and many clients that I’ve worked with throughout my career and things like that. And so I just want to share that with you in our first podcast about what do I do in how do I survive the holidays and recovery clean and sober. And I hope that this, this helps you. If you have any other questions or topics that you would like me to discuss, please let us know and we’ll be more than happy to, to accommodate and see what we can do., You guys have a happy holidays and I will talk to you on our next podcast. Aloha. And have a great holiday. Mahalo!