Alcohol and the Holidays

Alcohol and the Holiday Triggers
THE MOTHER OF THEM ALL

Alcohol is not in my VODKAbulary. However, I looked it up on WHISKEYpedia and learned that if one drinks too much of it, it’s likely, TEQUILAya –author unknown

There is a majority of us who would be content to just binge on the holidays. The reasons are varied and many. For some, it’s how we justify our drinking to remove the stigma that “see? I’m not alcoholic, I only drink…on holidays, birthdays, weddings, funerals, football games” and so on…) Triggers DO affect us most often, by those who invented them: parents, family, people places and other ‘things.’

Triggers, if we let them, have the power to make us feel momentarily insane: full of shame, guilt, deep regret, depression, and more.  

A popular thought at the holidays is just that. It’s the holidays. Isn’t that how we grew up? Many of us are stuck in our over-indulgent world of plenty. Self-justifying everything as it is, but during the holiday months, we typically set ourselves up for even more of the same. More gifts, more food, more celebrating (of what I never did really know), and more libations.

It's Hell in the HallwayMost of us drink, as it tells us in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, because, “…we liked the effect produced by alcohol…their alcoholic life seems the only normal one. They were restless, irritable and discontented until they can once again experience the sense of ‘ease and comfort’ which comes at once by taking a few drinks…” (read more at AA.org)

HOLIDAY TRIGGERS:

Stress, generalized and specific, relating to being with parents, siblings, and others who somehow push our buttons and we let them. Several other examples of triggers at any given time but most dominant as the holidays grow closer can be:

  • Emotions, positive and negative: 
  • Life Changes
  • “Thinking” about drinking
  • “Thinking” about the ‘good ole days.’
  • Expectations of ourselves and others
  • Physical and emotional complications made worse with stress
  • Isolation
  • Complacency
  • Anniversaries, death, job loss, and successes
  • Who Needs an Excuse to Drink?

By examining the list above and others, personal to you, the biggest reason you may find is how many of us drank to escape. You might see that your escape was from the feelings these triggers produced.

Never could we though, manage our emotions or live ‘life-on-life’s’ terms to begin with! The idea of escape we knew, was quick. At the beginning of our drinking, it solved our problem of living. But after a while, as with anything else, we needed more to keep our thinking, our opinions, and our delusions away as they kept tapping us on the shoulder. Here are several ideas that continue to work for the millions who have found a way to not drink, regardless of the situation or the reason. These reasons are personal, situations varied but real. The problem is how NOT to drink.

BE PREPARED TO ACCEPT CERTAIN ABSOLUTES:

Instead of going to a gym to work out, we must practice what we want to achieve in other ways: 

Try to accept that just for the rest of the day, you don’t have to drink. Your ego wants you to believe only there is no choice. If you already know you are a real alcoholic, the truth is, you don’t HAVE a choice this moment. If this is your story, then please continue reading below as your life may depend upon it.

Alcoholism, like other diseases, are unique to your physicality, age, weight and more. By suspending what you THINK you know, the chances of your success to not drink just for today are much greater. Because you’re already beginning to trust a process you cannot see.

Test yourself. Postpone the drink for 15 minutes and, if you’re successful, do it again for another 15. Then do it for an hour. The fact is: if you want to stay sober more than you want to drink, you will do it! if you’ve not been binging or drinking daily then to not drink is still a choice we get to exercise if you’ve been sober now for some time. 

Recognize that if you can stay sober just for the rest of the day, there is no reason to not repeat this exercise the next day!~ And we do. This is how we stay sober just for today. And when/if our tomorrow comes, we begin again, just for that day…

Go to the store and reward yourself with chocolate (helps to quell the obsession,) and buy your favorite soda! Take a nap, make out come Holiday cards, clean the garage. Do anything but pick up a drink. 

We all begin somewhere: if today is the day you MUST stop, no matter what, then I would encourage you to make an appointment with your physician or preferably, a detox center where staff are adequately focused on the ramification of the disease and insidious effects alcohol has already done on your brain and body. You should not stop drinking cold turkey if you are and have been a chronic drinker for some time now as to do so risks a heart-attack, and more.

HOW TO SIDE-STEP THE DRINK DURING THE HOLIDAYS:

  • WHAT IS THE WORST THAT WOULD HAPPEN IF YOU DIDN’T GO TO YOUR WORK FUNCTION, OR BE WITH YOUR FAMILY ON THE HOLIDAY? Are you THAT important? Does the show depend upon your being there? To not drink is one of the single, most life-preserving tasks we can undertake. If you must go, then go prepared:
  • BYOB (Bring Your Own Beverage) of Soda, Selzer Water or Juice!”) Arrive a bit late, so when people see you with your own drink in your hand as you enter the door, no one will bother you. If they do: Be prepared to respond with a truth you can feel comfortable with: “I’m good, thanks!” “Naw, I’m starting my New Years Resolution Early,” or some such is acceptable. Most people are thinking of themselves and care not whether you’re drinking.
  • Have a soda, bottled water or whatever you decide in your hand everywhere you go. The psychological effects of moving your hand up and down to and from your mouth will help to ease the notion that you’re safe, “not drinking!”
  • Forgo the fancy goblets, wine glasses and fruity-fruits that garnish. This is a psychological guise to put yourself closer to a drink. The trigger says, “WTH, I might as well!”
  • Practice Being Assertive! Sometimes, the more people drink, they become overbearing and/or boisterous and don’t like to accept no for an answer during the toast. If this is the case, be sure to have a glass filled with your drink and have the toast. But be ready to stand your ground if someone insists you have a “Hot Toddy” on the house. Remember, you are taking care of you!
  • Bring your own transportation so when you’re ready, you can leave. Be prepared to explain that “You’re tired,” “you’ve had enough fun,” or just because.
  • Bring a sponsor or a non-alcoholic friend with you. These pitch-hitters can be life-savers.
  • Recite a favorite passage, prayer, mantra, however long or short. If it speaks to you, memorize it for comfort and remember, “This Too Shall Pass.”
  • Last, being able to examine the reason for going is vital to your personal boundaries and self-care. If being honest with yourself and your motives means you don’t want to go for whatever reason, (but always because the risk to use or drink is too great,)—don’t go! Period. In the end, this is your journey, your life, and your decision. Lean on your own truth, reach out to a trusted friend, talk to your Higher Power if applicable, but check your own justifications first. Your answers are already deep within you. 

If you like what you heard here, there is more like this on each page of Miracles of Recovery.

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