Spending holidays with family and friends in early sobriety can be one of the most awkward and uncomfortable experiences to endure. The holiday season is oftentimes filled with laughter, wine, drinking games, sports, and family traditions. When someone is in recovery from substance use disorder, family and loved ones usually ask themselves the question of should we have alcohol in the house at dinner, can uncles and aunts come over if they like to indulge in wine and drinking games, will my loved one be “triggered” by the holiday because its a day where they are used to being able to drink with everyone else? There is no right or wrong answer to these questions and family should spend their holidays however they feel comfortable doing so while also supporting their loved ones.

Giving Back:

With Thanksgiving approaching, there are a number of different opportunities to practice selflessness and give back to those in need. Holidays are not about the gifts we receive or the sports teams on TV that day but more about being present with family and friends and reflecting on everything that we have to be grateful for in our lives. In order for someone in early recovery to stay grateful, they will need to show gratitude through some form of action. If we give back to people who are less fortunate than us it will help relieve the obsession to use drugs or alcohol. Our illness is deep rooted in selfish and self centered ways. I went through my life expecting things from everyone but not giving anything in return. As soon as I started to shift my thinking towards others and how I could be of service followed by putting in the action to do so, I began to have a complete psychic change in the way I viewed life. The feeling and urges of getting high started to diminish and I had finally done something for someone without expecting anything in return. Altruism is the key to my happiness.

Getting Involved:

How can someone get involved in giving back if they are in early recovery? The best part of selfless actions are that they are FREE of charge. Anyone can call their local church, police station, fire department or coalition to inquire about service opportunities at local food pantries, soup kitchens, hospitals, and homeless shelters. A simple kind gesture can go a long way in someone else’s life. Sobriety will become a byproduct of your selfless actions and you will soon feel true freedom from the bondage of self. Today my life has changed drastically as a result of doing the simple things. I am able to show up at holidays and enjoy the time spent with loved ones, be grateful for the life I have and the second chance that I received while helping to make someone else’s holiday season just a little bit easier for them.

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