Despite what it might feel like, there's much more to the Christmas holiday than drinking or using. It might not seem like it if you're in early recovery, but all you need is a few ideas and a support system around you.
Here are 10 things you can do on Christmas rather than drink:
1. Check your community calendar.
It's a total myth that there's nothing going on aside from drinking activities. Most likely, your community calendar has plenty of things listed—Christmas carols, plays and light exhibits. Just check it out and commit to trying something new!
It's a normal part of recovery to give back—and it will make you feel great. If you know of a nonprofit or local cause in need of extra help—like a soup kitchen or homeless shelter—try volunteering.
3. Spend time learning about your family members.
It might sound silly, but addiction can often keep your mind and thoughts preoccupied. Go into your family gathering and find someone—like a distant relative or grandparent—and ask them about the traditions they had growing up. You'll learn something, and it will make them feel valued and appreciated.
4. Plan a family game night.
If no one else has taken the initiative, plan a fun game night—or even a tournament. Pick out prizes, make a bracket, and get everyone involved. Make it kid-friendly so no game will focus on drinking. You'll have fun and will make memories in the process.
5. Give your hot chocolate a boost.
Cocktails aren't the only fun Christmas drink. Treat yourself to a warm cup of hot cocoa and try new things to add in—like marshmallows, candy canes, or toffee.
6. Plan something for people who don't have a place to go.
Look your local AA/NA meeting or another community support group. Many people are a part of dysfunctional or broken families, and might not have a place to go for the holidays. Try organizing a small get together with other friends in recovery. Plan a dinner, watch Christmas movies, or even a brunch date with a group. This will not only help others with nowhere to go, but it will help you deepen your roots with your new, sober friends.
7. Bring treats to a meeting.
Have a baking day (either solo or with sober friends) and make extra. Bring treats to your next meeting and let it brighten someone else's day. It will make you feel good, and will spread some love around to others who might need it.
8. Just go to a meeting.
If you're even debating it, just go. It doesn't have to be AA or NA, it can be Celebrate Recovery, SMART Recovery, or a CBT group. Whatever group or community meeting brings you support, attend. Especially during the holidays, tapping into the wisdom and insight of others can be extremely helpful.
9. Go sledding.
It's not just for kids! Sledding is a great way to get outside, enjoy the winter, and have fun in a way that's kid friendly and includes your whole family. Plus, if it makes you laugh, that's a good thing. Laughter helps reduce stress and can lighten a bad mood.
10. Take time for reflection.
Take a few minutes out of the hectic holiday schedule and take a moment to reflect. Look how far you've come? Every day, your recovery is getting stronger. Think back to how the holidays used to be and say a silent gratitude that you're here, sober, right now.
This list is not comprehensive – so keep brainstorming! The point? There's so much to do in your new chapter of recovery. Embrace your sober self and all the fun and joy yet to be had.
Go into this Holiday season confidently, knowing you're growing day-by-day. Recovery brings a clear mind, new adventures and a peace of mind that is often absent in addiction.