Addiction During New Year's Eve: A Test for All Addicts
I have to admit, this is the first New Year's Eve where I will be confronting the test to remain sober. As we all know, holidays, and New Year's Eve in particular, are open invitations to eat, drink, and be merry. I made it through Thanksgiving with no problems, but in my eyes, that part was easy. No, it is the test of New Year's Eve that I am thinking about.
The biggest advantage that we have is that we KNOW this day is coming and we CAN plan for it. I have already started to formulate a plan. In fact, it's a plan that I've had in action since I quit drinking: to stay away from those who do drink. I am fortunate to be able to do so. No, let me rephrase that: I made an extreme effort to make it that way, but I also have many family members who do not drink. As for the ones who do, they would not let me drink or will not drink in front of me. But as far as friends who drink or otherwise party, I distanced myself from them long ago.
I have another part of the plan…something that is very important to me: I do not want to lose the many months of sobriety I have. I do not want to destroy that in one night for the sake of a craving that will pass. I have already begun the 'self talk'-a mental list of reasons why I will choose sobriety over even just one night of slipping.
One could say that I simply have a strong mind when it comes to this. Or, it could be said that I am further on in my sobriety than others are. Both statements would be true, but I could still name people who have been sober for YEARS who have slipped. Therefore, I have to be sure to not remain or get too cocky about the situation. I can truly say that maybe I am playing it safe by sheer avoidance. At this point, I'd have to say: whatever works.
But what are other things we can do to remain sober and resist temptation? Well, for those who have 'sponsors' (let me clarify sponsor: someone who has let you know you can count on them for help) we could rely heavily on the sponsor. We can share our fears and temptations. We can look for those who want to help us remain sober. A sponsor can be your family member or a close friend. We can ask others to not tempt us. We can ask that they not put the substance in our faces. We can choose to not go to a party, unless it's the kind of party that will not have alcohol or drugs available. We can find one special person to spend the evening with. I have read that staying at home alone is a bad idea because it makes us feel lonely and gives us too much time to think and possibly even rationalize ourselves into accepting that having a drink would be okay...and besides, who would know?
Additionally, I have found it helpful to remember why I got sober in the first place. I make it a point, any time I feel tempted, to recall all of the negative consequences I faced when intoxicated. If necessary, write a list for yourself, reminding you of the reasons you chose a sober life and in that list, include all the negative things that happened to you when you weren't sober. Ask yourself if one night of partying is worth everything you have accomplished.
However, do not feel you have to put yourself in exile (which ties into the above-not being alone on New Year's Eve)! You can have fun sober-by finding activities that distract you from any urges. I personally am going to focus on the things that keep me going-family, movies, going out for ice cream; anything that will keep my mind busy. Most of us wanted to get sober to have a better life, maybe even better health, for ourselves. Let's keep the goal in mind, not forget the bigger picture.
Perhaps the most obvious thing to do is stay away from bars on this evening! I know-it sounds SO very obvious, but one cannot deny the temptation will exist. The same is true of parties where you KNOW you are going to be surrounded by temptations.
I do have to address the possibility of relapse on this, or any other given, day. It is a fact that most alcoholics and substance abusers will relapse-perhaps even several times before achieving true sobriety. The fact that it is almost an acceptable expectancy might make us feel like it would be okay to mess up 'just this once'. We are almost given (if not by others, certainly in our own minds) an excuse to slip. I, personally, enjoy the challenge of proving others wrong in this area, but I am not everyone else. Still, maybe it would help you to make it a personal challenge. I am going to (and have) decided that relapse is not an option. By taking that stance, I am telling relapse that it does not get to win-it does not get to get the best of me just because it's a possibility or expected.
I would suggest keeping the bigger picture in mind. Imagine how GREAT you (and I) are going to feel knowing that we were able to say no. Imagine how proud your friends (the true ones), family, children and spouses (if applicable) are going to be of us! Believe it or not, each milestone we cross makes us stronger and others proud of us. I don't know about you, but I feel so good inside when people tell me how great I'm doing; it just makes me want to do better. But more than that is the personal satisfaction of knowing that I can face and stand up to any obstacle that comes my way-if I just decide to make that commitment.
There is one other thing to keep in mind. On New Year's Day, so many people are going to feel miserable with hangovers and an overall sense of feeling ill. They may even have to face some regret because of their actions; they may not want to face anyone for a few days because of their behavior. We will not have to feel that way. We can wake up feeling just as good as we have been because we chose to stay strong and not give in.
I wish us all the best of luck. To be honest, I have faith in us. I believe we can do this. I believe as long as we say: I'm not going to mess my life up, I am not going to give that much power to drugs and alcohol because my power is my own to give to whom or what I wish, we will beat this.
Below are some articles for further motivation:
Staying Sober: Dealing With Temptations
Helping Fellow Addicts Can Help Maintain Sobriety
A Primer on Coping (and some Holiday applications)