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Celebrating The Holidays While In Recovery

We are currently in the middle of what is known in recovery circles as “The Hurricane Season,” the period from Thanksgiving through New Year. During Hurricane Season, a lot of people in recovery relapsed and lose their sobriety. Here is a relapse prevention plan for surviving the Recovery Hurricane System


Make sure you show up during the holidays praying and having hope for the best but plan for the worst. Make sure you have the contact information for recovery professionals, your sponsor, or other sober supports. Prepare in advance a list of meetings or other support that are either in-person or virtual.

Talk with friends who are in recovery. Plan out what meetings you will attend and other activities you can do. Get help and support for setting boundaries, for instance when someone begins to discuss uncomfortable subjects, or if someone begins to drink too much or use drugs during a Holiday dinner.

Never forget that leaving a dangerous situation is always an option. Make sure you always have a plan.


Your recovery must come first, including before any family responsibilities. Do not get guilted into attending an event that you think will harm your sobriety. Make sure before the holidays and during the holidays to engage in activities and behaviors that are positive for your body, mind, and spirit. The holiday season can feel like overwhelming, and it can drain people emotionally and physically. Remember again planning and sticking to your plan is important.


Once again, your recovery and your self-care need to come first. You need to get ready and show up as a part of your family, but you also need to know when something is too much for you to handle.

Get support in setting boundaries and know your boundaries and your limits when you consider agreeing to anything or when you are attending a family holiday event. If your family is involved in behaviors that could be triggering: drinking, using drugs, gambling, or spending that is when you should use your boundaries. Establish time limits physically and during conversations.

When having conversations, there should be general updates, all discussions about your recovery should be with your recovery support network. Share a meal and then leave. YOU ARE IN RECOVERY, NOT YOUR FAMILY.

If you feel like you are being forced into activities you cannot handle in your recovery during this holiday season, let your family know this year you are not able to accommodate their expectations.


Families during the holidays usually have holiday traditions, which are typically good. However, some of those traditions are not suitable for your recovery lifestyle. So, begin new traditions. Create new, healthy traditions with your friends in recovery. Make memories with others in recovery that can become new annual traditions that support health and wellness.


Relapse triggers are often thought of as physical things – old using friends or drinking buddies, places like the bar you always drank during the holidays, used substances, or engaging in other addictive behaviors. It is important to avoid anything that may be cause for concern.  Another trigger to watch out for that can be even more difficult to handle than things like old friends or bars are emotional triggers.

Coincidentally, for many in recovery, family members and family dynamics can be the biggest emotional triggers.  These dynamics can lead to bringing up old stories that can create feelings of guilt, shame, fear and remorse. Participating in these situations that create difficult and strong feelings can then lead to feelings of resentment and anger.

Therefore, as mentioned above, make sure you have a plan to avoid being triggered by setting boundaries and knowing your limits. Additionally, make sure to pray, and outreach to a sponsor or other sober support when these feelings arise.


Gratitude is important for your recovery. While the holidays can be difficult, finding gratitude is important, and with daily practice, it can be easy. Gratitude can begin with your sobriety and your recovery, continue with being grateful the chains of addiction no longer shackle you.

Gratitude for new friends and new experiences. Gratitude that your family wants you to be part of the holiday celebration. Gratitude that you do have a choice today to engage in activities and behaviors that are positive rather than negative. Find other ways to express gratitude and it will make the holiday season much more joyous.


In Alcoholics Anonymous the first 12-step fellowship, it is said that selfishness and self-centeredness are the root of the problem for those that suffer from alcoholism and addiction.

While many of these tips sound selfish they are self-concerning. Yes, recovery needs to come first, and to maintain your recovery, you may have to engage in self-concerning behaviors. In recovery, we must make decisions and choices, so we can go or stay away from people, places, and things.

While making a decision, make sure you are on solid spiritual ground, PRAY. Examine your motives and make sure they are beneficial for you and your recovery. Think about what you will get from participating in the occasion, and what you can contribute to it.

Your assignment today is to be where you may be of maximum helpfulness to others, so never hesitate to go anywhere if you can be helpful. This advice is given so that you won’t constantly think about yourself and your situation. There is no purpose in sitting in fear and anxiety of an upcoming holiday activity or event. Instead show up with gratitude in your heart, a smile on your face, and be Helpful.

Think about how you can make this upcoming holiday season for your family, friends, and loved ones. Bring joy and happiness while becoming a better you.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

©Wanda Currie

Vision of Recovery believes in a non-denominational Christian perspective on Wellness. We integrate biblically based beliefs with counseling and coaching interventions to treat the whole person—emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

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