Alcoholism is a serious problem that creates a lot of health risks for people of all ages. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 29.5 million people over the age of 12 suffer from alcohol use disorder.
The health problems caused by alcohol abuse are severe. The most immediate health risks include stroke, heart disease, liver disease, and stomach and other digestive issues. Indirect problems can include an increased risk of getting into car accidents, falling or getting violent. The CDC has more details here. Of course, some of these issues can lead to legal consequences.
If you suffer from alcoholism, then you will need to take steps to maintain sobriety. You will want to stay sober throughout the year and not make exceptions for holidays, including Christmas.
You Need to Stay Sober During Christmas to Stay Health
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but for many people Christmas can be a struggle. With Christmas parties galore, family and friends catch-ups and alcohol on just about every shelf in a supermarket, it can be a difficult time for those suffering from alcohol addiction, or those simply wanting to get through the festive period without drinking.
Alcohol can cause serious problems at this time of year, not just for those suffering with alcohol addiction and in recovery. According to Banbury Lodge, an Alcohol and drug rehabilitation centre in Oxford, uring a period where emotions and stress are heightened, alcohol can fuel fires and cause plenty of problems. Which nobody wants during a time that is meant to celebrate togetherness.
So, as we get closer to Christmas and the few weeks around it where there’s lots going on, here are six top tips for getting you through it sober…
Now, we’re not saying you need to be making announcements on social media or anything like that, but it can be worth letting people know that you aren’t drinking and you would appreciate their understanding.
This will eliminate any kind of pressure into drinking and give you a level of support from them, whether it be family members, friends or colleagues at a work’s Christmas party.
What’s more, planning can be really important. Think about things such as an exit strategy if it does get too much for you as it can be a difficult time, and temptation can creep in at any time.
Alongside the support you may get by taking the above approach, it is so important to have a support network around you, not just at Christmas time, but always. However, they can come in especially handy at this time of year.
You’ll be able to lean on them whenever you need, as well as discuss things like coping mechanisms and just how you are feeling. Opening up about sobriety can be hugely valuable and help keep you on track.
If you’re in a position where you can have a say on events, or pick and choose the events you do go to, then look at doing activities that don’t require alcohol. There are tons of great celebration ideas that don’t revolve around alcohol these days from crafting to volunteering, to enjoying a nice winter hike or stroll.
Alternatively, if you aren’t quite in control of what you do, particularly when it comes to work events, don’t be afraid to sit it out if you do believe it could be too much for you. Perhaps organise something alternative on a different date to celebrate with your closest colleagues.
Ultimately, keeping busy can go a long way to steering clear of temptation. Be the person who offers to make Christmas dinner or do the driving. Offer to keep the kids entertained with crafts and games.
By keeping your brain stimulated as well as making yourself useful, you’ll have that sense of purpose, as well as ensuring you don’t really think about alcohol too much, even if it is in the vacinity.
What can often cause problems is turning up to a party and there being no real non-alcoholic alternatives. You don’t want to spend your evening drinking tap water, so bring something along with you. There are some fantastic non-alcholic beers, cocktails and even spirits these days that many people who are sober are turning to.
It’ll not only mean you get something nice to drink, it’ll also allow you to fit in more and potentially avoid any of those awkward questions as to why you aren’t drinking.
It’s never an easy period of time to get through for those who do have alcohol problems, but by being open and having support around you, it still can be a very happy Christmas, and a much better one than if you were drinking alcohol.
For those that struggle with addiction, or find it hard to turn away drinking alcohol when it’s offered, then avoiding situations of stress or peer pressure and sticking to routines to cope with that are really important.
The Christmas period can disrupt day-to-day routines, with the likes of hosting family, work gatherings and going out with friends all having a huge impact, as fun as they may be. However, the norm of a routine can also be integral in keeping your mind clear and free of stress so you should also factor that in, which in turn will help you stay sober over the period. That could be anything from sticking to an exercise regime, having structured and consistent sleeping patterns, or speaking regularly to that support network we’ve already mentioned. Essentially, whatever helps you destress, relax and be more focused and clearer mentally, then take the time to do it as it’ll help create a better chance you have of staying sober over Christmas.
It isn’t easy, particularly during the early days of sobriety, where temptation and cravings kick in much more frequently but, being aware of the above can make such a huge difference.
Naturally, different things will help different people and there’s no one size fits all approach to it, but there are key factors that will help. You have to think of yourself, remove yourself from as many situations in which alcohol may be prominent, and give yourself the time and space to destress and bring clarity of thought to light when you need it. Do that, and you’ll stand a much better chance of navigating the festive period booze free. And, what’s more, if you manage that not only will you likely have the best Christmas you’ve ever had, it’ll give you the confidence to tackle any situations you may come up against, both in sobriety and every day life.