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Busted Halo
feature: religion & spirituality
December 25th, 2002

I’ll Be Clean for Christmas

The Pressures of the Holidays for Recovering Alcoholics

 
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Many people have mixed emotions about the holidays. Families separated the entire year are thrust together again under difficult circumstances. Old wounds and resentments resurface. Relatives with whom we have limited contact and conversation suddenly appear in Aunt Sherry’s kitchen on Christmas Day. Siblings tolerate each other while distant parents and relatives share superficial small talk. Such situations and family gatherings can be particularly challenging for people who practice twelve-step recovery programs.

And doesn’t it seem like everyone wants to hand you a drink?

Get thee to a meeting
The recovery program of which I am a member is Alcoholics Anonymous . I find it necessary for me to increase my A.A. meeting attendance during the holidays. I know lots of alcoholics and addicts who relapse during the holiday season because they have difficulty attending family gatherings and work-related parties. Alcohol makes us feel comfortable at these functions. It makes conversation easier. We feel more relaxed holding a drink. The allure and mystique of a drink become more important than sobriety.

I know that, for me, one drink leads to acute remorse and even imminent death. The holiday season is very risky as the pressure to drink becomes great.

There are ways out
Strategies are available for people in recovery from alcoholism during the holidays. It’s important to attend meetings that focus on your life’s addiction. Attendance at twelve-step meetings is essential always, but critical during the holidays. A meeting is an antidote for my alcoholism. I strengthen my life against that next drink by attending a meeting.

Having a sponsor with whom I share feelings about drinking or other life issues is important. A sponsor is a companion, a person from whom we receive ideas and suggestions.

Another strategy against my next drink or drug depends upon my working the twelve-steps. The first three steps from my recovery program form the foundation. I have to surrender my life and that next drink to God every day.

The steps call me to live my life between boundaries of authenticity and integrity. I risk jeopardizing my recovery and sobriety when people, places, things, and situations influence my behavior. The twelve-steps make us remember that we have no power over that next drink. We are reminded that insanity is a choice, but that happiness is mandatory for a spiritually sound recovery program.

God is there
God never promises us that our lives will be free of suffering, but God does promise us that we will never be abandoned while we suffer, including during the holidays when the desire to drink increases. God has to be the center of my recovery program.

Actions that enhance my spirituality protect me from my next drink. These actions include being open to my life’s blessings and gifts. I have to remain grateful and humble during the day. I have to help people each day. Such random acts of kindness foster inner goodness within the person who performs the action. An attitude of gratitude that has God at the center is the greatest defense against my next drink. The quality of my recovery and how I live each day depend upon the maintenance of my spiritual condition and my personal relationship with God.

 
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The Author : Nicholas Perkins, CSP
Nicholas Perkins is serving an internship preparing for the priesthood in New York City.
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