December can be a difficult time of the year for people in recovery from alcoholism, particularly those in their early days. Office parties and even the family Christmas lunch can be minefields of temptation to drink, encouraged, often innocently, by well meaning friends and family.
All of us in recovery have heard phrases like, “surely one can’t do you any harm” or “it’s Christmas, everyone can have a drink”. An alcoholic will know that at any time he or she is just one drink away from a dangerous and damaging relapse and that one can do harm. Some situations can, and should, be avoided like the club after the office party where most of your colleagues have already drunk too much. Buying bottles of drink for family and friends is not a very good idea as it may encourage them to “insist” that you have one with them.
A good method of dealing with the problem is by being clear and firm from the start. A simple “no thanks” when offered a drink often leads to more offers. “I don’t drink” said very firmly to the first offer of a drink will hopefully do the trick and it is never necessary to go into details as to why you do not drink. Your reasons are not a proper subject for discussion and people that are really close to you should not need to go any further.
At the Providence Project this year we will have between 30 and 40 people in treatment over the Christmas holiday, many celebrating their first sober Christmas for many years. We arrange for all of them to have a traditional Christmas day in every way except for alcohol. In small family size house groups they have turkey dinners with all the trimmings and all the mince pies, Christmas puddings, Quality Street and After Eights they can manage. We receive messages from people year after year about their Christmas with us at the Providence Project and how important that was as a real demonstration of the great benefits of recovery.
On behalf of all of us here, we wish you a happy and safe Christmas and New Year.