Friends In Recovery Answered
Question 1. I’m new in recovery....what
triggers should I be especially aware of as holidays approach?
The holidays themselves can be a trigger. For me it is family
and all the chaos/pain that associates them with the holidays.
All my family drank, so being around intoxicated people can
be a major trigger. Feeling lonely, isolated, feeling sorry for
yourself? Stay close to recovery people from drug rehab.
Go to as many meetings as you can and if something is making you
I avoided most holiday parties my first year. As for family
gatherings (I have family members still using and
drinking) I would get there right on time (not early) and
leave early. I did not stay in one place for very long. As
soon as I felt uncomfortable, I left. They may or may not
understand but you are the one in charge of your own
happiness and recovery.
~Good luck! Lisa D.
Always give yourself an out. If you’re going somewhere
and you suspect there will be drinking, take your own
car and leave if you get uncomfortable, or take someone
in the program.
Family and friends...my first year sober returning from the
drug rehab center
I made some new traditions. In the past ALL holidays were
ANOTHER reason to drink and party. If you find
yourself around those CELEBRATING the holidays try
sticking with the kids. They are sooo wonderful and a
lot of fun. Stay close with those in the program. You will
find strength in others and NEVER be far from your
phone. Today, I appreciate the holidays so much more
than I ever did and I never have a hangover or am sorry
for my behavior. Live in the moment and enjoy!
I ask lots of questions to find out what the holiday plan
is. Where? Who? How long? I also find out if alcohol or
other drugs are going to be present. It has also helped to
find out how I can participate in things that will be fun and
ask if there is anything I can do to help. Most importantly, I
give myself permission to not go or go and leave early if it is
clear that it is not a good situation. I also usually follow up
my family holiday by going to an
It’s a way to talk about the good time I had with my family or ask for
support if things didn’t go well.
Holiday shopping was a trigger for me. Going out to
lunch during a day of shopping was a good excuse to
start drinking. Also, the commercials on TV remind me
of the good times. Remember to play the tape all the
way through. What will happen (it will happen) if I
take that first drink. You are not alone. Go to a meeting
and share how you are feeling. Take someone shopping
with you or do it online. Have phone numbers and stay
Be especially aware of HALT.:Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and
Tired. Any of those feelings singularly, or in conjunction
with one or all, should be carefully considered.
Naturally, being around alcohol in any way is a temptation
especially if you are in early sobriety. Another thing that I
have had to watch no matter how long you have been sober is
the fact that you may want to leave the gathering, no matter
where you are. I have always made sure that I took my car or
that there was someone that would take me home whenever I
felt the need to leave or felt that I was in a corner.
You cannot avoid them this time of year, nor should
you. You embrace being okay and they will just have to
deal. Do NOT give up that holiday dinner and the family.
We only get uglier in their eyes when we do not go.
Stay close to as many meetings
as you can get to. I did 90 meetings in 90 days when I first came to the
program. Winter and all the holidays can get to you, if
you let it. Call your sponsor from the
drug rehab center
every day, if you have one and if you don’t get one.This is not a DO IT ALONE
PROGRAM. If you have problems with family, find some
family at meetings (just imagine they are family). It will
get better with time. Make a list of 20 things you can
do instead of drink. Every time you look at the list, try
to do just one item. Then cross that off and go to
another thing. It doesn’t have to be big stuff. Clean
out a drawer. Nothing is too small or big to get done.
Good Luck and God Bless,
I think we have different triggers. Take a good
with your sponsor to help you be aware of what yours
are. I try and make sure I’m around people in recovery
or at least people that don’t use; holidays can be hard
with family around that don’t have addiction issues, and
choose to celebrate the holidays with a few spirits. Hit a
meeting that day. If you have an opportunity to invite
someone in recovery over, do so. Your sobriety is the most
important thing for you, so don’t feel obligated to stick
around if it gets to uncomfortable, your loved ones will
understand. Remember it’s YOUR recovery. Great time
for prayer and to be spiritually fit. God Bless this
There are no such things as “triggers.” The Big Book uses
the words “trivial excuse.” You are out of therapy and
into AA, so let’s start using Big Book terms. The problem
is, we have an alcoholic mind and along with our sound
reasoning, we can find that excuse and we pick up that
first drink. The Solution--keep our conscious contact
with our Higher Power and surrender to Him. You can
only do this by working the 12 Steps and practicing the
Fifth Tradition by carrying the message to the alcoholic
who still suffers.
I think if family has started drinking, you need to have a way
out, bring a friend in recovery. Remember this is a life and
death matter for some of us. When someone comments on
why you may not be drinking after years. of joining in, just
say “today I just don’t feel like drinking. No lies and short to
the point. No need to explain.
Question 2. How do you deal with grief and loss issues as the holidays approach?
If anyone hasn’t read Opening Our Hearts Transforming
Our Lives by Al-Anon, you need to. In Kearney, on
Tuesday nights, the meeting is that book and a lot of
healing has taken place in that meeting. It puts a name
on what you’re feeling. Grief is a huge issue not only for
AA‘ s but co-dependent‘s as well.
Unfortunately, many of us have to deal with grief/loss
around the holidays early after returning from drug rehab. What worked for
me, was first, I immersed myself in the recovery
community. Service work ended up being the best
medicine. It’s hard not to find gratitude when dealing
with those worse off than yourself. Secondly, I forced
myself to start new traditions, kind of that whole “fake
it till you can make it” type of thing. Believe it or not, a
middle-aged man can decorate a Christmas tree all by
himself. And lastly, spend extra time with the God of
Luckily I don’t have grief issues. Loss of income creates
guilt and stress about gift giving vs. receiving.
I get into service, go to more meetings, visit the closest Valley Hope
Drug Rehab Center, and talk to new folks. Most important for me, is to share
my feelings with my home group – getting it out of my
head allows me to be willing to listen to others and accept
I ask for support from my family and friends. They are
always there when I need them. If things should get
really rough, I know my counselor will be there to get me
I cherish the good memories and pray for guidance if
needed. I have my wife to share my feelings with but you
can always talk to your sponsor or even talk about it in a
meeting. The old saying “time heals all wounds” is
important to remember. The pain doesn’t go away
completely but you learn acceptance and you can learn
to deal with it better over time. My advice to the people
just starting with their recovery is don’t try to deal with
it alone. Talk to someone. Take care everyone.
Same way I deal with every other day and time and
season...stay spiritually fit, go to lots of meetings, work with
another alcoholic, and get out of my own way. Uhm, there’s
a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the ground. Love y’all,
The first thing that I have had to do is accept the fact that my
wife is gone...the next thing for me is to remember the serenity
prayer. I cannot change the facts...the third thing is I have to
live life on life’s terms and sometimes that sucks...at least she
got to be with me sober for 15 yrs.
I’ve got one year and one month. I am good today. I
didn’t put alcohol in my body today. Probably won’t
tomorrow. Things are looking great. I just do what it says
to do in the Big Book. Simple. When feeling
uncomfortable, I go to a meeting. I help someone if I can.
Get out of self. Call someone. Pray. Candy. Read. 5 alive.
It works, it really does.
I’ve learned a lot and there is only one person that is in
control and that one is God. So if I’m having trouble, I go
to God and I talk about it and most definitely get out to
”AA families” for we help one another. Everything happens
in His time and not mine so I LET GO, LET GOD and at
the end pray of the day I thank God for good in my life and
I pray for the one who still suffers. Knowing that I had
given it all to him, I lay my head down on my pillow and
go to sleep.
Question 3. How do I get through a long,
cold winter ahead and do you have any tips so that I don’t become a couch potato or isolate too much?
Visit elderly or shut in friends. Do volunteer work perhaps at the drug rehab center.
I am in Wisconsin, so we don’t turn into couch potatoes,
only potato salad. Meetings help, but children and
breathing the cool air to remind me that I am alive
to keep me hope-filled and happy.
~ Scott S.
Find a hobby (i.e. sewing, reading and crafts). I bought
a Simple Science Projects book to work through with my
kids. We also like to bake and have “Football Sundays”
with snack foods and rooting for opposing teams just for
~ Lisa D.
A group of my friends from the drug rehab center put together a running
club last year. After sitting on the bench and watching
my wife get involved, I decided I would quit smoking
and join the group. We ran a few races in the spring and
have spent the summer, and now fall, training for a big
event in January. I am in the best shape of my sobriety
and have made a few new recovery pals as well. To say
the least, running has gotten me off the couch this summer
and looks to keep me active all winter long... thanks.
Get out of bed, take a shower and “suit up and show up”
The most important thing for me to remember somewhere
about now...every year, is that the sun is going to shine
again and the temperature will still get up into the 70s
and 80s: I can still wear short sleeves and even
shorts, and unless I go to a certain section of Wal-Mart,
there is not any major outward trappings of the coming
holidays...When I was very young in recovery my sponsor
gave me some suggestions that he had and circumstances
that could only be His handy-work. My sponsor said
that by practicing this day by day, I would be truly
amazed at all the evidence. I would start to physically
see God working in just everything I could see. As time
progressed, I realized God was becoming larger in my
life, and when I was in that “zone” of seeking Him in my
entire day, then all future things-feelings, fears,
insecurities, did not seem to be able to capture as much
space in my thinking. Also, even when life’s daily realities
seemed large enough to overwhelm me, He was always
there too, constantly appealing to my Spirit to keep a
focus on His wonders. With time, I began to look back
and see my anxiety levels were more in balance, and
contentment was a really good condition to
experience...Over and Over again!
Do your meditations every day. Keep a conscious contact
with God. Get physical exercise by getting into a routine.
The very first thing to do is to stay in today. Do not sit
and worry about how bad the weather is going to get or
what you are not going to be able to do. Find a new game
or hobby. Try something that you have not done before.
Hang in there and get to meetings from the rehab center no matter what. We
used the alcohol, no matter what. So let’s just change
that. It has worked for me and next April I will have 30
y e a r s .
Well, for me, winter is the hardest season to get through.
I get depressed some days just because of lack of
sunlight. And then there are all those holidays! I have
to stay focused on my number one goal...staying sober
for this day. I go to more meetings. I make friends with
other women after I hear them talking in meetings and
go out for coffee after the meetings. Before I got sober, I
only wanted to hang out with guys. I made a list when I
was at the drug rehab center at the Atchison, Kansas Valley Hope of
20 things I could do instead of drinking. I call my sponsor
every day, if only for a 5 minute conversation. I don’t
have to be alone, unless I choose to be. Isolation is the
number one killer for me, because if I’m alone and I don’t
share what I’m feeling, I will go to a bar to supposedly
make myself feel better, and it doesn’t work. Read a lot
of AA literature. Do some arts and crafts stuff. Whatever
turns you on. Good luck, and remember, winter isn’t
forever, but getting drunk could be!
~A friend from Topeka, Linda W.
First, don’t think about the long winter ahead. We only
have today. Then make sure your doing something for
your recovery every day. Increase your meetings. Get there
early and leave late. Help clean up and reach out to
newcomers. It doesn’t matter how much time you have,
you can always welcome new people and help set up/
clean up a meeting.
Get out and go to meetings, and do something for
someone else. Spend time with your kids. Take them to
lunch or to see something. Maybe go to a movie. There is
lots to do.
Join a club, book club, motorcycle group, quilting group
and go to meetings for fun and sharing experiences. Find
volunteering opportunities in your community: Read
more. Take dance lessons. You don’t have to have a
partner. Take up photography with a digital camera. It’s
fun, inexpensive and you’ll surprise yourself. Have a
date once a week with friends. Have pot-luck dinners
with card games and snacks. Learn a new skill: a new
language, woodworking or car maintenance. Need more
ideas? (even though they may not be too exciting...I have
a million of them)
Join a gym. Working out on a regular basis is a great stress
reliever. My husband and I, both in recovery, go 3-4 times a
week. Meet great people! Get up and move!! Recovery is
work-and some is great fun!
~ Tricia T
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