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Wishes for a sober, satisfying holiday season from Rosencrance CEO

By Dave Gomel, Ph.D. 
With calendars full of social events and family gatherings during the coming weeks, the holidays can be challenging for people in recovery, as well as their loved ones. Whether it’s work or a New Year’s Eve celebration offering an abundance of alcohol, triggers and temptations seem like they are everywhere. I would like to offer a few thoughts on how we can make this time merry for all of us.                

One common concern for people in recovery is being offered a drink by a well-meaning acquaintance who notices someone is walking by empty-handed. This dilemma can be overcome by bringing your own non-alcoholic beverage or keeping an alternative in hand.

It’s also perfectly acceptable to say “no.” In fact, this is a valuable life skill that will help anyone make the most of holiday stressors. When you recognize your schedule is too busy, that you’re pushing your mental or physical limits, or a particular event may be filled with too many triggers, it is OK to politely decline an invitation.

In addition, have a plan for any situation that you find uncomfortable. This may mean coming up with a reason not to participate, or knowing how and when to leave certain situations. This is where safety in numbers is helpful for motivation and support.

Consider making this a special time to connect with the recovery community. There often are 12-Step meetings at the end of December to attend. Plus, the Rosecrance Alumni community is busy planning fellowship events.

To make other connections, consider a focus on giving back. Volunteer to host a sober activity for friends in recovery, or help at one of the many organizations busy making spirits bright this time of year.

Self-awareness also is a thoughtful gift loved ones can give to friends and family in recovery. If your holiday activities usually include adult beverages, monitor your consumption habits. Friends who notice your positive behavior will appreciate this small gesture that may remove some of the temptation they may feel.

In addition, look out for people committed to sobriety through these next few weeks. Offer to be the supportive accountability friend who will attend a few events with them, and include them in alcohol- free activities of yours.

If you or a loved one have concerns about substance use or mental health, please talk to a trusted professional. Caring Rosecrance staff can be reached by calling 888.928.5278.

I wish you a truly joyous holiday season.

And remember, life’s waiting.

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