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Dry Christmases Are Possible

Updated on December 16, 2016
Christina St-Jean profile image

Christina grew up with an alcoholic parent. Today she is a mom to two awesome children who teach her more than she ever thought possible.

Do You Want Coffee or Tea?

It's really difficult to picture the holidays without a glass of wine or some other alcoholic beverage to enjoy; we have a tendency to imbibe more frequently during this time of year. It seems that regardless of where you go, you are offered some sort of beverage that has alcohol in it as part of the holiday celebrations.

When you're trying to maintain sobriety, though, the offer of a drink can break you. It can completely derail everything you've fought for during your period of detox from the alcohol.

Recovering alcoholics are constantly in recovery mode. There is no full-blown "cure" for addiction; it's always a fight for recovery because many addicts continue to crave the drug of choice long after they've tried to break the habit. Alcoholics in particular find this particularly challenging, as it is quite socially acceptable for people to drink alcohol during the holidays. It shows up as part of dinner, for social occasions, and for many other occasions during the season, and for those who choose not to imbibe, others may look at the person and pass their own silent (or not so silent) judgments.

That possibility of judgment can be enough to send an alcoholic right off the wagon. They want to be able to quit drinking, once they've chosen for themselves to quit, and not be under scrutiny. The logical part of their brains may understand why their loved ones are on high alert for exactly what might be in their glass, but at the same time, they don't like the feeling of being monitored. They want to continue as though life hadn't been derailed by their addiction to alcohol, because to do anything else brings the microscope back on their behavior.

So how, then, do you help the recovering alcoholic in their quest to maintain sobriety during the holidays?

The Hardest Hurdle For Any Addict - But Worth It

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Aim Small, Miss Small

Giving up a habit can be exceptionally tough, and quitting an addiction is no exception. Unlike harder, illegal substances like cocaine, crack, and heroin, using alcohol is acceptable in social situations. The fact that alcohol is so socially acceptable means that it's quite accessible, and if it's accessible that means you can get it far more easily than the more traditional "street drugs" that require having connections that you might not ordinarily want.

As a result, alcoholics are particularly challenged when it comes to maintaining sobriety over the holidays. Temptation is everywhere, or at least most places, and depending on how far along the alcoholic is in the recovery process, he or she may feel that one drink may not be so bad. The problem is, one drink is often like trying to eat one potato chip when you're trying to maintain your sobriety - it's difficult, if not impossible, to have just one.

What anyone who's looking to drop a habit needs to do is realize that kicking the habit will ultimately take a very long time and a very steady effort. You can't logically expect that an addiction that you have had for years will be eliminated with a few short weeks of effort. There will likely be failure - and possibly several, as you work towards a lifetime of sobriety.

Addiction and alcoholism are not logical conditions, though. Anyone who has attempted to kick a habit knows the challenges - and the temptations - that you can encounter with frightening regularity. There are times where an addict might think, "As if one drink will cause me a problem."

Well now. There's logic for you.

Remember Robert Downey Jr. at the height of his addictions? He'd told a judge once that the addictions he had were as though he had a gun in his mouth and his finger on the trigger and he liked the taste of gun metal. It took him a number of years, but he came to realize that he could not just partake in a "little bit" of the drugs and still come out okay.

So, be gentle with yourself when you're trying to maintain sobriety over the holidays. It's incredibly tough, and you have to try and keep your expectations realistic. Take your life minute by minute - and breath by breath - during the holidays, as you will encounter a significant amount of temptation. You might think that you will be able to come out smelling like a rose, as it were, and not touch a drop of alcohol. Sure, that's ultimately the goal, but with all goals that we have through our lives, we don't always reach our goals right away. Your efforts to avoid alcohol during the holiday season just may not work 100 percent of the time, and that's okay.

You simply have to try. If need be, put water or soda in shot glasses and do shots that way if you want to disguise the fact that you are sober while your friends are drinking. Take the "virgin" version of a drink if you're wanting to fit in. No one has to know what you're drinking specifically, unless you tell them.

If you set your goals realistically, you should be able to tackle your sobriety carefully; that is, you can take the care you need as you embark upon your goals of maintaining sobriety over the holidays. It won't be easy, and it may mean that you'll have to miss a party or two if you're feeling as though you won't be able to stay sober on any given night.

But sobriety could be the greatest gift possible.

Some Interesting Statistics

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Craig Ferguson Monologue On His - And Others' - Alcoholism

A Word On The Craig Ferguson Monologue About Alcoholism

There are a number of spots in the video here where the audience laughs. Craig Ferguson is a comedian who talks about his own experiences with alcoholism, and while there are some jokes made at his own expense (for the most part) about his own alcoholism, he is by no means advocating alcohol use or abuse. He knows, perhaps better than most, how serious alcoholism and how hard you have to work to maintain sobriety.

Please consider the video in the spirit in which it is intended, and hopefully you can glean some kernels of truth for yourself here.

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