The holiday season, often stretching from Halloween to New Year’s Eve, poses a significant challenge to those newly embracing sobriety. This period, which may also encompass events like the Super Bowl and St. Patrick’s Day, is rife with parties where alcohol is prevalent if not the focal point. Coupled with the stress of family gatherings, end-of-year financial considerations, and gift-giving, the holidays can amplify pressures, particularly for those freshly relinquishing their familiar coping mechanism – alcohol. They are now tasked with the formidable challenge of forging new, sober means of stress relief.
This is the season where those around must rally in support of the individual embarking on a new life in Christ amidst a sea of temptations. It is essential to remember that the gazelle that remains within the herd is seldom targeted. The one that strays is vulnerable. Our first tip is to never go alone. Bring a spouse or a sober friend to all events, ensuring at least one person is aware of your journey.
Opting for gatherings where alcohol isn’t central is advisable, but sometimes unavoidable obligations arise. In such cases, employ the “Irish Exit” strategy: make your presence felt, exchange greetings, and then discreetly leave. Despite what you might think, most attendees, absorbed in their own worlds, likely won’t notice your quiet departure. If you’re required to spend more time with family, find a task to keep yourself occupied, such as manning the grill or washing dishes.
Another handy tip is to always have a non-alcoholic beverage in your hand to discourage hosts from offering you alcohol. If questioned about your abstention, the level of disclosure is up to you. Some might appreciate your honesty about your commitment to sobriety, while a simple “I feel healthier without alcohol” could suffice for others. It’s often prudent to maintain some privacy. Prioritize self-care during this period – regular exercise, a balanced diet, and ample sleep are essential to reinforcing your self-worth.
Perhaps the most effective strategy for maintaining sobriety is to extend your love to those cherished by God. Serving the underprivileged as you are led to can help you connect with your Heavenly Father. Consider reaching out to an old friend or someone who might need a bit of encouragement. These unexpected calls can mean a lot to someone.
For church leaders, there are specific steps to take. Providing spaces for extra group meetings during the holiday season and promoting these initiatives can demonstrate church solidarity. Creating more volunteer opportunities and promoting them among your church’s recovery group can serve as a beneficial distraction. Even a simple “Sober-Bowl” watch party can prevent isolation during this challenging period. The key is to remind those battling addiction that they are not alone and that their struggle is recognized and supported.
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