With the holidays upon us already this year we can get excited for all the joy they bring. For most of us it’s memories of time around the table with our family, a big turkey dinner, and maybe a nap in front of the football game. It brings warm and fuzzy memories from our childhood, getting and giving gifts, and the joy of the season. But it also brings time with our family that can be stressful and push us to find relief in overindulgence. Whether you haven’t seen them in years or they live right down the street, your family is usually the best at pushing your buttons.

Here are some tips to staying sober during your family holiday get together:

1. Remember past holidays

Try to remember the last few times you got together with your family for the holidays. Were they fun and relaxing times? Did you or they drink or party too much? Did anyone push your emotional buttons and open or re-inflict old wounds? Did anything make you feel uncomfortable to the point that you wanted to pick up or use? Taking inventory of past gatherings can help us have a game plan for this year’s festivities. Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

2. Learn to detach.

Detachment sounds negative, but the right degree of it can help us not be so emotionally hurt by family. Some people call this the “movie family” method because you picture your family as one from the movies. You can watch them more objectively and not get drawn into things that might trigger the desire to escape or drink for courage.

3. Plan your entrance.

Sometimes the anticipation for spending time with our families can cause anxiety. Plan ahead for how and when you will arrive. Should arrive a little early because you need some time to relax and get comfortable? Would you rather go later to avoid some encounters? Remember what worked best or worst from past experiences to judge your time of arrival.

4. Have a support group handy.

A good group of friends is often just a text or call away. If you feel stressed or anxious during your family visit, sneak off to find some support. Friends have a much more objective view of your family and they can help encourage and support you.

5. Plan your exit.

Before you head out, think about how much time you can comfortably spend with your family. It’s important to let them know how long you plan on staying so you have a predetermined exit strategy and don’t cause any hard feelings for leaving early. If things get more uncomfortable than expected it’s completely acceptable to make your exit and avoid stress that can trigger you.

Family time during the holidays can be an enriching and fun time. Our families know us better than most, but that can sometimes cause stress that leads us to want to escape into alcohol or our addiction for comfort and courage. Remember to have a plan of action when going in to your holiday gathering this year and enjoy all the good parts of the holiday season together.

If you or a loved one struggle with alcohol or drugs and need next steps, please call our 24 hour help line or chat with us live now!