Staying Sober/Clean & Safe Over Christmas

Christmas is a time for celebratory occasions, where people of all backgrounds gather together to shake off their winter blues. The festive season means plenty of parties and other events where alcohol or drugs are consumed.

Not everyone finds the holiday season to be such a joyful experience. It can be a particularly difficult period for those individuals who are battling with an alcohol/drug addiction. There is so much temptation at this time of the year. Such individuals may need to take precautions to ensure that they enjoy a sober Christmas. Those who are spending time in rehab over the holiday season can also find it a challenging time due to them missing family and friends.

Challenges to Sobriety at Christmas

Christmas can be a particularly challenging time for people who are in early recovery. As people mature in sobriety they become better at managing this time of year. They can then enjoy it fully without any need for alcohol or drugs. These are some of the challenges that people face at Christmas:

Christmas can be a time of year that practising alcoholics look forward to. There is a great deal of alcohol consumption going on over the holiday period and this is perfect conditions for the alcohol abuse. Even the behaviour of a hardened drinker can appear normal during the festive season. When people become sober, they can remember how much they enjoyed drinking at Christmas. Some reminiscing may encourage them to romance the drink, and this can lead to relapse.

At this time of year, it is usual to bump into old acquaintances at social gatherings. If these people are still drinking, they may try to tempt the sober individual to rekindle their friendship over an alcoholic beverage. It can be hard to say no to such invitations.

There are many parties and other drinking opportunities over the holiday period. There can be a great deal of pressure on people to indulge. Even those who generally do not touch alcohol will have a few glasses at Christmas. This means that there can be overwhelming pressure for those who are not yet comfortable with saying no.

Christmas is a time when people can feel incredibly lonely, especially those who are estranged from their family. Loneliness is a dangerous emotion for people in recovery because it can act as a relapse trigger. Such individuals may decide that life in recovery is unsatisfying or that they are unable to handle their negative emotions. They may view their only solution as a return to addiction.

Some recovering alcoholics can find themselves enjoying watching other people consume alcohol. This type of activity may appear harmless, but it can actually lead the individual back into their addiction.

Families are expected to come together over the holiday season. Such gatherings can be joyful, but they may also be incredibly stressful. Those who are newly sober can struggle when spending time so much time with relatives, particularly if they feel that their behaviour is being judged in any way. At this time of year, there can be a great deal of media promotion for alcohol consumption. Even family shows will have scenes where people are enjoying themselves while drinking.

This is probably the most dangerous time of year for alcoholics and some of them do relapse. Those who return to alcohol may try to tempt other friends in recovery to join them. The build-up to Christmas can be financially difficult for many people in recovery. If they have children they will need to buy presents. There might also be the expectation that they organize a Christmas meal. This can be difficult if people have not yet managed to sort out their finances.

How to Stay Sober Over Christmas

There are things that people in recovery can do to ensure that they remain sober over Christmas:

This is a good time for the individual to put more effort into their sobriety. This could include such things as reading some recovery literature or spending time with one of the recovery communities online. There are many newly sober people with similar fears about the Christmas period. Such individuals can come together to offer each other support. This can occur online in the real world.

Journaling over the Christmas period can be highly beneficial because it keeps the individual focused on their sobriety. A gratitude journal will remind the individual of the good things in their life that have arrived because of their recovery from addiction.

The drinker has traditions that they look forward to over the holiday season. This could be something like drinking a few glasses of whiskey as they wrap presents. It is necessary for the sober individual to invent new Christmas traditions. These can become even more enjoyable than the previous self-destructive ones. Those individuals who belong to a fellowship like Alcoholics Anonymous can benefit from increasing their attendance at the meetings over the holiday period. This can also provide a nice opportunity to socialize and enjoy the Christmas build up. It is also a good idea to collect telephone numbers of other members, as these can be used if the pressures of the season become too much. If spending so much time with family is starting to feel a bit overwhelming, the individual will benefit from taking a break. Even something as simple as going for a walk can help.

If people have a sponsor they will be able to rely on this person over the holiday period. The good thing about an AA sponsor is that they can offer one-to-one advice and support. Many sponsors are willing to allow their sponsee to contact them at any time of the day or night if there is an emergency. If people do not have a sponsor then they can still get contact details for people they contact in an emergency.

Discussing concerns and fears with family members can be helpful. This will they will be more understanding. The problem is that many of the general public just assumes that once the individual quits their addiction, the problem is over. So it may be necessary to tell family members that things like Christmas can still be a challenge.

How to Handle Parties at Christmas

If people are newly sober it is best if they avoid getting into a situation where they are surrounded by people who are consuming alcohol. There is a saying in Alcoholics Anonymous, if you sit in a barber’s shop long enough you will eventually get your haircut. What this means is that if you stay around drinkers for long enough, you will likely join them. Sometimes it is difficult to avoid such occasions. There are things that people can do to reduce the risk of problems when attending these parties:

The most important factor in handling these occasions is to never take them lightly. Even those individuals who have been sober a few years can be overcome at a celebratory occasion where alcohol is served. The urge to drink can come from nowhere, and it can be intense. People need to be prepared for how they will react if such thoughts and cravings occur.

It may be helpful if people practice saying no to alcohol before they attend the party. They can do this by using role play techniques. Some individuals can be particularly persistent when trying to get others to drink alcohol so it is best to be prepared for such people. There is no need to give a long-winded explanation for not drinking. This often only invites more questions. Sometimes the best solution is to just give a firm no and leaving it at that.

Bringing along another sober friend in recovery can be of great benefit. It is vital that this other individual already has a strong sobriety. Otherwise, it would be putting their recovery at risk as well.

It can also be beneficial if the individual brings along some recovery resources with them. Carrying around something like the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book might be a bit conspicuous, but modern technology makes it possible to have such resources discretely on your person. Having an iPhone or Android smartphone enables access many recovery apps. It is even possible to read the Big Book online.

If people feel that they are at any risk of relapse, they should leave the party immediately. Those who are in AA will want to go straight to a meeting or call their sponsor. Those who do not belong to a fellowship can call a trusted friend or a therapist. The key thing is not to ignore the event.

Staying in Rehab over Christmas

Those individuals who are staying in rehab over Christmas can find that this is a time when they miss their family and friends. Many of these inpatient programs will take extra measures to ensure that clients get to enjoy some festive activities. This can include a special Christmas meal and even watching Christmas movies. Spending this holiday season in rehab can prepare the individual for the later joys of a sober Christmas.

We at in-recovery.com wish you all a Safe and Happy Christmas

 

“Detox” The facts about a safe drug or alcohol detox?

If you’re trying to detox from alcohol or drugs, you may want to advise a medical consultant. Detoxing incorrectly from alcohol and some drugs can lead to serious side effects. Medical consultants are there to help you, and they will know exactly what to do to prevent your withdrawal symptoms from taking over while you detox.

If you’re considering detoxing on your own, knowing the facts will make it easier. If you stop drinking alcohol, cold turkey? it may cause you serious harm, seizures, or comas, depending on how much you usually drink. If you’re detoxing at home, you might be able to avoid professional help if you taper off your alcohol consumption and can stick to a serious regime. This means reducing the number of drinks or proof of alcohol little by little over time, which could be days or weeks, depending on how much of a tolerance or dependency you have. If you can’t do that, then you will need to watch for the signs of serious withdrawal and seek medical help when necessary.

If you are shaking and haven’t had any alcohol for an extended period of time, you’re probably heading for some serious withdrawal symptoms. You may need to seek medical detox treatment, since doctors will be able to provide medications to prevent withdrawal symptoms like seizures or heart failure, and you’ll be more comfortable while you detox. Simply drinking alcohol when these symptoms occur will not always help, and in some cases, it may complicate these problems.

Weaning yourself off alcohol may work if you haven’t been a heavy drinker, but heavy drinkers will face some additional issues that will likely cause a relapse if not treated correctly. Firstly, can you be sure that you can drink less and less alcohol over time, or will you relapse and end up binging? Second, do you have the expertise to know how much alcohol you need to take in or reduce by, in order to prevent symptoms of withdrawal that could be life threatening? Most likely, you will need medical help/supervision to keep yourself from relapsing, or from suffering serious side effects. Stopping without any help can actually lead to a much more difficult detox than if you seek attention for the problem.

Detoxification via a rehab/clinic is done with medication that can mitigate the side effects, and medical advisors will help you through, so you’ll be more comfortable and more likely to succeed.

Detoxing from drugs is different in some ways from detoxing from alcohol. Some drugs are relatively easy to quit, but opiates like heroin are a different story. Heroin withdrawal can start within a few hours after the last time you took the drug. The symptoms peak around 48 to 72 hours, and after a week you should not have many more withdrawal symptoms, besides some weakness or a little bit of pain.

The most serious withdrawal symptoms associated with heroin detox include seizures and comas. Normally, people who don’t take large amounts of heroin could suffer from restlessness, cramps, dilated pupils, chills, and other side effects, but those who take large amounts and try to quit without help could suffer the more serious problems, which, if not treated immediately, could cause death.

A physical withdrawal occurs because the body needs to have the drug to function correctly. If you have taken a drug for a long period of time, there could be more issues because you may have built up a tolerance, and you may have taken very high doses frequently throughout the day. Severe opiate addiction needs to be treated by a professional who can prescribe drugs like Suboxone, which will help reduce the likelihood of any withdrawal symptoms.

Another serious drug, crystal meth, can cause major problems if you detox incorrectly. The withdrawal process can cause mental changes that you will be unable to prepare for. Violent tendencies, sleeplessness, delirium, and paranoia are common, and these can cause injury to you or to others. During detox, these episodes can last for hours, which is why detox from this drug needs to be treated with care by a professional.

If you are considering a home detox? Tell your doctor or a family member/trusted friend.

Do not suffer in silence, Stay Safe…

Alcohol Alcohol……Everywhere and Not a Drop to Drink.

It’s everywhere, alcohol, isn’t it? But what do you do if you want to stop drinking, or you’ve committed to sobriety, and yet booze is all around you?

Maybe your friends and family are still drinking, your partner drinks a lot, or your job involves a lot of boozy events and receptions. Does that mean that you can’t stop drinking, or that your efforts to quit drinking will be in vain, or perhaps that you will have to become a hermit for the rest of your life, just to avoid alcohol?

Well no. If you’re stuck in a situation where alcohol is inescapable, the best thing to do is to separate your own drinking habits from those of everyone else. So what if the world is filled with bars, pubs and off-licences and hoards of binge drinkers out on a Friday night? That is not your problem. Your issue is you, and your own relationship to alcohol, and that is what you should focus on. After all, you can not change other people or what the rest of the world does.

You can get sober and be happy about it, no matter what your environment is like, and no matter what anyone else around you is doing. At my age, a lot of birthdays are celebrated in bars, and social events are ‘naturally’ accompanied by alcohol. I can’t just avoid them all. In fact, I first got long-term sober while living with a partner who drank alcohol every day. I thought this was fairly unhealthy, but when it came down to it, it didn’t tempt me to drink.

That’s because I realise that ‘alcohol and me’ is my problem, not alcohol and anyone else. Other people’s relationships with drink or drugs are not my issue. My focus is always on my own recovery. You can not change anyone or anything else – you can only change yourself.

So, stay focused on your recovery, be grateful for being sober and safe, for not having hangovers, withdrawals and all the other nasty things that come with drinking alcohol. Whatever being sober is currently like for you, it’s got to be better than the pain, shame, guilt and frustration of being dependent on alcohol.

Focus on the great life you can create for yourself now that you are free of the bottle. Be grateful for the opportunity to clean up and change your life. Find new ways to enjoy yourself without alcohol. Above all, remember what the issue is. It’s not about anyone else. It’s about you and your recovery.

Very kindly written by Beth Burgess @ smyls.co.uk

 

Abstinence & Relapse

First Steps towards Recovery

When we reach out for help from a professional alcohol and drug rehabilitation program, we begin the first stage of our recovery, treatment initiation. Whether we seek help voluntarily or are forced by circumstances to enter rehab, our recovery process will begin with us initiating professional supervised treatment.

In the early hours and days of our treatment, we probably will have some ambivalent feelings about giving up our drug of choice permanently, and we may think that our substance abuse problem is not as bad as others. Beware!. Ambivalence and denial can be our worst enemies in the first days of our recovery.

First Stages of Abstinence

Once we have made a commitment to continue treatment for our substance abuse issues, we will enter the second stage of rehab known as early abstinence. This can be the toughest stage to cope with because of many factors, including continued withdrawal symptoms, physical cravings, psychological dependence and a host of triggers that can tempt us into a relapse.

It is during this early abstinence stage that our trained addiction counsellors will begin to teach us the coping skills that we need to begin to lead a sober lifestyle. The tools that we learn to use now will help us throughout our recovery.

Maintaining Abstinence

After approximately 6 months of continuous abstinence, we will move from the early abstinence stage of recovery to the third stage, maintaining abstinence. If we started with a residential treatment program, we will now move to the continuing or follow-up counselling phase of our rehabilitation program on an outpatient basis.

One focus of this stage of rehabilitation is obviously to maintain abstinence by avoiding a relapse. We will learn the warning signs and the steps that can lead up to a relapse.

Also during this stage of our recovery, we will learn to put the tools that we have learnt in early abstinence to use in other areas of our life so that we can continue to live a truly rewarding drug/ alcohol-free lifestyle. We will learn new coping skills and tools that can help us deal with difficult areas/triggers in our lives.

The maintain abstinence stage of recovery will begin at about three months into our rehabilitation program and last until we reach approximately five years clean and sober, at which time the follow-up counselling will usually terminate.

Ongoing Recovery

After approximately five years of abstinence, we will reach the fourth and final stage of our treatment and ongoing recovery. It is at this point that we take all the tools and skills that we have learnt during our rehabilitation, counselling and put them to use living a satisfying, fulfilling life.

Not only will we merely be able to remain abstinent, we will also have the skills to become a healthier person, a better spouse and parent, a productive member of society and a good neighbour, peer and citizen.

Relapse

If we have tried to quit drinking or using drugs, but had a relapse and returned to drinking or using, we are not alone. Statistics indicate that up to 90% of people

who try to quit have at least one relapse before achieving long-term sobriety.
Do not let this put you off?

In recovery circles, it’s called a slip or falling back into old behaviours. When or if it happens, it is important that we get back up, dust ourselves off and get back on the road to recovery.

It is an opportunity for us to assess how we feel about getting clean/sober, about what led to the drinking/using, and to consider again whether we have had enough. We don’t know that we can ever explain all of the whys and wherefores of drinking or using, but we can certainly identify our triggers and our vulnerable situations/places.

Avoid Relapse Triggers

For those in early recovery, there are many factors that can trigger a relapse. But relapse is predictable and preventable if we learn to recognize and avoid the triggers and begin to focus on other more healthy activities.

But even if a relapse occurs, rather than viewing it as a failure, we can turn it into a positive, by looking at it as a learning experience in the process that can lead to long-term sobriety. Recovery is much more than just staying clean and sober.

You can do it. Nothing worthwhile ever happens quickly and easily.

The Journey Continues

Well, it’s been four years now since we last updated. But god willing we are back on track. Close friends have been lost, and relapse struck with a vengeance. For myself, alcohol managed to get past my barriers, and caught me unaware? Two and a half years and I thought I had the better of it, how wrong I was.

I often asked the question, what made you pick up? I have asked myself the same, I have no answer, though one drink wouldn’t harm. How wrong was I? back to square one in no time at all, knowing full well that I chose to drink, nobody forced me, I had nothing or nobody to blame but myself.

Back into rehab January 2010 after 2-week detox, only lasted a week. I wasn’t ready. May 2010 saw the loss of my closest friend, not caused by alcohol alone, but was a contributory factor. I was searching for answers, but there were none. I continued to drink on & off until August this year when I finally got the strength to say no more! Life was becoming unbearable.

We all know that it’s difficult at times to stay abstinent, but it is the only answer to survive and stay alive, even when we feel like giving up. There is help out there for everybody, we just have to be strong enough to ask. There is no shame in admitting we are powerless over our demons.

Some find strength in AA/NA, this is a great place to meet and share experiences with others in the same or similar situation. “you are not alone” There are organizations and support groups that are more than willing to guide us in the right direction. I started with my doctor who was very understanding.

In-recovery.com is a site compiled to provide information about, and where to look for help and support. We are more than happy to publish any stories that may help others seeking guidance. The November newsletter will be dedicated towards the understanding of dual diagnoses. Please feel free to email us anytime to info@in-recovery.com we will respond.

Thank you for visiting.

This issue is dedicated to the memory and sad loss of
Jacqueline Nunn
1961 – 2010