Staying sober during the holidays is not only a possibility—for the individual in recovery, it is a vital necessity.  Yes, the challenges can seem overwhelming, for while the holidays signify a time of joy and spiritual renewal, the intense preparations and heightened expectations can trigger stress and the temptation to relapse into addiction. By developing life skills, you can give yourself the best holiday present of all—the gift of healthy, sober, grateful living.

Make a list of your triggers---and check it twice. By shining a light on the causes of your addiction, you can plan how to avoid toxic traps.  Maintain clarity about your personal situation and list healthy responses to your triggers, including calling your sponsor, going to a 12-Step meeting, scheduling therapy, and seeking drug rehab treatment.

Take care where you gather for the holidays. You don’t have to go it alone. Nor do you have to limit yourself to gatherings where alcohol and dysfunction take center stage. Instead, celebrate the holidays with people who share and support your sober values. 

Take a walk (or a jog) in a winter wonderland. Too often, the holidays become a time when people slack off on exercise. While staying too busy is one extreme, being too sedentary is another. Inactivity is conducive to the “stinkin’ thinkin’” that can lead to relapse. Instead, get those natural endorphins going by keeping up with exercise. You’ll sleep better and feel more inclined to eat healthier, too.

Don’t take a holiday from your treatment. For many people, the holidays mean a break from routines and appointments. But commitment to showing up for treatment, 12-Step meetings, therapy, and other recovery routines will not only bring comfort and joy to your holidays, they could just save your life.

Ask for help, not for stuff. Presents are just things, but there is no greater gift than your sober presence in your own life and the lives of those you love. If you are struggling with addiction, don’t settle for anything less than learning how to maintain abstinence from unhealthy behaviors.

Remember the reason for the season. Don’t be distracted by the barrage of holiday ads that urge you to “indulge.” The true core of the holidays is the opportunity to restore your faith in God and in yourself.