From January through December there are many holiday celebrations that take place for different cultures, religions, and nationalities. The end of the year, about October through December, has the highest density of holiday celebrations. Typically, that means plenty of party invites, dinners, and events. Before getting sober, the holidays were some of the best times of the year! Libations flowed freely and everyone had a holly, jolly good time. Now that you’ve completed treatment, or are in the process of completing treatment for drug addiction and/or alcoholism, things might feel a little bit different.
Recovery is not the end of holiday cheer and celebration. Early recovery, the first few months to a year, might make it a little more difficult to get into the holiday spirit. Fear not, like all things in life and sobriety, this too shall pass. You’ll make it through the holidays just fine by understanding why you might be triggered and how to handle holiday parties.
There are a few reasons why the holidays are especially challenging in the first year of recovery. First, is your brain. While the drugs and alcohol have left your system, your brain has not yet fully recovered. Addictive substances induce a sensation of euphoria when they are abused. Euphoria is caused by a production of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine is a messenger for pleasure in the brain. Part of the neuroscience of addiction, or how addiction occurs in the brain, is when the brain is unable to produce dopamine, or pleasure, on its own. Being dopamine deficient means it’s actually chemically challenging for you to feel that holiday cheer.
Second, holiday parties usually include alcohol. There’s a seasonal drink (or three) for every seasonal holiday. At the root of your core you know that you do not want to drink. You’ve worked so hard to come as far as you have in your sobriety. Yet, somewhere in the back of your mind is a nagging thought about it. Cravings are uncomfortable and can be overwhelming at times. It isn’t that you want to participate and it isn’t that you don’t. As you work through the emotions of your attachment to addiction and alcoholism, more will be revealed about you miss it sometimes.
Most importantly, remember that holidays are just another day. We take recovery one day at a time!
Enlightened Solutions provides a unique and holistic approach to treating drug addiction, alcoholism, and co-occurring disorders. Combining twelve step philosophy with evidence based treatment and holistic healing modalities, Enlightened Solutions creates a deeply healing recovery program for each patient. For more information on our services, call 833-801-5483
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