Niagara Gazette

December 11, 2013

GUEST VIEW: Holidays can be hard on recovery

By Cheri Kelly
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Northpointe Council, Inc. would like to wish everyone a very safe and happy holiday season. When we think about this time of year, many people consider it a time for reflection; a time to think about or share with others the important things in life and realize all that we are grateful for. Over 20 million Americans are in recovery from alcohol and other drugs, and this is certainly something to be thankful for.

According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc., there is often a misunderstanding when it comes to the meaning of “recovery.” “Recovery” is often seen as “someone who is trying to stop using alcohol or other drugs.” In reality, recovery from alcohol and drug addiction is a complex and dynamic process encompassing all the positive benefits to physical, mental and social health that can happen when people with an addiction to alcohol or drugs, get the help they need.

We encourage you to take this opportunity to celebrate not only the holidays, but also the strength of those in recovery, which is something really worth celebrating.

For individuals in recovery from alcohol or other drugs, the holidays often present special challenges. Individuals in recovery know the importance of taking one day at a time to prevent relapse. During the holidays, they may have to take one minute at a time. Anyone who is trying to maintain sobriety understands that the holidays are filled with temptations and potential pitfalls, especially when the people around them may be drinking or using other drugs. There may be painful memories or losses associated with holidays from the past, or stress related to dealing with uncomfortable feelings about the holiday this year.

If you are in recovery, consider attending more meetings or reaching out for extra support to take care of yourself. You can also consider these additional tips:

• Plan each and every day of your holiday season.

• Plan to spend the majority of your time with friends and family who are supportive of your recovery.

• Ask for support from family and friends: Those who are truly supportive of your recovery will be happy to help you throughout the holidays.

• Have a list of 10 people you can call: Make a list and check it twice. Carry your cell phone and list of names at all times.

• Stay away from the treats that may contain alcohol, such as rum balls, punch and eggnog. While they might taste good, it may bring on a strong urge.

• Keep going to your meetings — they do not stop during the holidays.

• Live one day at a time and enjoy your sobriety: Stay in the moment and live one day at a time. Enjoy today. Live today. Celebrate your sobriety!

It’s important to recognize how essential it is for an individual in recovery to have a strong support system. As many as 74 percent of Americans identify that addiction has had an impact on them at some point in their lives. For some, it may be their own addiction, for others, that of a friend or family member. Anyone with a friend or loved one who is in recovery may also benefit from seeking extra support and assistance during the holidays.

We would like to provide some holiday tips for family members and friends of people in recovery:

• Be mindful about the drinks being served at holiday parties/gatherings.

• Allow open discussion of feelings regarding abstinence and sobriety.

• Do not pressure the family member to attend gatherings that may cause emotional discomfort.

• Make yourself available to give support, and give them words of encouragement.

We encourage you to give yourself the gift of sobriety this year, either for yourself or by supporting a family member or friend. If you feel pressured to relapse — don’t be ashamed to reach out for help. You are not alone in this fight. Remember that TOGETHER we can do so much more than we can alone!

Northpointe Council, Inc. is a not for profit human service agency providing addiction services through prevention, intervention and treatment programming for individuals and families affected by alcohol, other drugs and problem gambling. Our services are provided to individuals, families, schools, companies and the community.

If you are in need of assistance with an alcohol or drug related problem, please call Northpointe Council at 282-1228. If you work in a school or community setting, and would be interested in having someone from our prevention education program come and speak with your group, please call 282-1228 and ask for prevention. You can also access our website at: and you can find us on Facebook at Northpointe-Council-Inc-Prevention-and-Education-Program.

We wish everyone a very happy and healthy new year. 

Cheri Kelly is a senior prevention specialist with Northpointe Council, Inc.

Cheri Kelly is a senior prevention specialist with Northpointe Council, Inc.