By: Maggie Young, Chief Recovery Officer
While navigating life through the Coronavirus Pandemic, we have had a number of firsts. Another first is approaching, celebrating the holiday season during a Pandemic. Let us step back, be still, and take advantage of the quiet time that holidays offer, and live in the moment.
Although nothing about the Pandemic feels positive, maybe this is divine intervention for us to practice “Being” vs. “Doing” which allows us moments to be present with loved ones and enjoy the essence of that presence.
Moments to engage in conversations with those we love like never before, to listen and hear not only with our ears but with our heart and soul, and to see one another.
Holidays are often associated with large family gatherings; however, we are cautioned to gather safely and to limit gatherings to no more than 10 individuals and when possible to avoid gatherings with anyone other than those living in our household. Family time includes a feast, eating favorite meals, with favorite family members and drinking favorite beverages inclusive of alcoholic ones. While we maintain our safe distance, mask-up, and frequently wash our hands, let’s not lose sight of individuals near and dear who are struggling to GET or STAY sober. Consider if there is someone in your family, close circle of friends or neighborhood who could use your support over the holidays. While reading, reflect on if you have ever experienced a gathering where a family member or visitor had “one too many drinks” and became the topic of discussion and an embarrassment to the family? Someone who dutifully managed to spoil dinner by having the first drink or one-too-many and spoiled the day’s ambiance, said something hurtful or embarrassing, or damaged the home after having one too many. If you commit to an alcohol-free holiday there is no need to contemplate the “what if” of that happening. Consider an alcohol fast or sabbatical and support a loved one in their recovery this holiday. If you cannot think of anyone you love to support, are you willing to make a commitment to an alcohol-free holiday, just because? It’s simple, skip the holiday drink for the sake of a love one who may be triggered to drink by your ability to have one glass of wine, one shot of scotch, one martini, or one beer.
Create a plan for the holidays. If you are a social drinker, plan to drink, limit your drinks, and do not drive after. If you are not drinking in your home, do not take your car and have a plan to get home that does not include driving – schedule Uber/LYFT/Taxi or sleep over. Remember that children are always paying close attention to what we do; an easy flowing conversation, great meal, favorite TV show or movie breeds one or one more favorite drink. It is simple to move from the dinner table to the family room, grab another drink and relax. Within a two-hour period and four to six drinks later, it may seem like a great idea to go out for a drive or take a ride to the store. Remember, only one drink places us at risk for impaired driving. Holidays foster the desire to have fun and fun is associated with taking a drink. Limit your intake and stay safe.
Tips for traveling: if you must travel over the holiday season, make a plan and travel safely. Avoid traveling during peak hours to circumvent crowds as much as possible. If you are driving, limit stops to reduce contact and exposure, pack snacks and create a safety kit of gloves, masks, hand sanitizer and wipes.
I wish everyone joyful holiday season with family and friends while following CDC and State guidelines. Be Safe!
Anyone seeking treatment for substance use disorders (SUD) can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 855-LIB-PROG (855-542-7764).
If you are seeking peer-to-peer support groups consider; Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, SMART Recovery and Al-Anon and Alateen family groups as well as All Recovery Meeting (ARM) and Telephone Recovery Support (TRS) through CT Community for Addiction Recovery (CCAR).