Here are a few tips from the President of the Association of Recovery in Higher Education (ARHE):
"How to Enjoy the Holidays when you may encounter a party that includes alcohol and/or any other drugs:
1. Plan your entrance and exit: Given your circumstances, is it best to go early and leave early or to arrive late to avoid certain encounters? Is it best to arrive with a specific family member/friend or maybe not to attend at all? Do whatever is best for you and let your family/friends know about your plans as it will help set realistic expectations. Drive yourself or have a way to leave if you are triggered or feel the need to go.
2. Have Support Ready: Bring a sober friend with you to holiday events or at least know who you can call if you need to talk. Many 12-step clubhouses have open houses all day long so you can hit up a meeting before heading to your family dinner or plan to spend the day at the clubhouse. If meetings aren't your thing, do something for self-care before heading to dinner: meditation and yoga, a work-out, whatever works!
3. Serve Others: A great way to get out of our heads and into the true meaning of the holidays is through service. Volunteer at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter in the morning or for your whole day. The other option is at your family's gatherings - ask how you can help and work in the kitchen to set up or be on clean-up duty rather than lounging in the living room where there is often drinks and football.4. Breathe Deep and Enjoy: Since you planned ahead and communicated with others with clear expectations, you can try to relax and enjoy the day. Get outside if you can - offer to take the dog for a walk! If stress levels increase, remember to breath and bring to mind 5 or more things you are grateful for to calm the mind.
How to Support a Loved One's Recovery Over The Holidays:
1. Offer Support in Advance: Recognize this is a tough time and be the go-to person for support. Let your loved one know in advance of the holiday that their recovery is more important than any single family gathering and it is okay to not attend or leave early if they need to go. Ask their plans and set expectations mentioned above so everyone is on the same page.
2. Be Sober in Solidarity: If you are the host household, eliminate alcohol from the menu or at least minimize its importance and don't let alcohol be the center of the day. If you are not the host, then choose to not drink in solidarity with your loved one. If you are willing, offer to do service together or to attend a recovery meeting together for the holiday to create new, positive family tradition.
3. Express Gratitude: Tell your loved one how grateful you are for their recovery. Verbalize your appreciation throughout the day to encourage them on their recovery journey.4. Self-care: You can't pour from an empty cup - meaning you need to take care of yourself first. Recognize the 7 Cs - You didn't Cause it, you can't Control it and you can't Cure it. But you can take Care of yourself by Communicating your feelings, making good healthy Choices and Celebrating life and yourself in positive ways."