Holidays challenging for people trying to be sober

drunk santaLANCASTER — Every day can be a challenge for people trying to beat drug or alcohol addiction. But the holidays can be especially difficult because they are so closely associated with drinking and partying.

Clients at The Recovery Center are learning how to handle those challenges and not let the holidays destroy their new-found sobriety.

“I’m surrounding myself with good people,” Josh B. said. “I have a girlfriend this year and people I actually want to spend money on with gifts and what not. Getting a job recently was pretty exciting, so I’ll be able to buy Christmas gifts this year.

The Eagle-Gazette is not providing full names of those recovering from drug or alcohol abuse.

He had 102 days of being sober as of Monday and said he will work on his recovery program by attending 12-step meetings and counseling sessions to maintain his sobriety. Josh B. said dealing with a new job and weather-related illness has left him exhausted and provided challenges to a sober holiday period.

But he is not alone in battling addictions during this time of the year.

“People, places and things,” Nathan W. said. “You’ve got to stay out of the typical things you’ve done for years. You need to obviously surround yourself with an understanding person, whether that be family or a friend.”

He said those in recovery must push away people who might enable addictive behaviors. Nathan W. is new in sobriety, having reached 17 days last week.

The Recovery Center Clinical Director Sharon Shultz said getting rid of old friends is the first thing people seeking sobriety must do. She said they might face a time of loneliness until they replace them with sober friends.

“It’s a lonely time,” she said. “And loneliness is an emotion that people really struggle with when we watch on TV that Christmas is wonderful when they don’t come from families that are like that. I think that’s a tough battle for them — of for any of us.”

As Josh B. alluded to, Shultz said finding money to buy presents can add further stress to people struggling with sobriety.

“Can we keep up?” she said. “’So and so gave me a present. Do I have $20 or $10 to give back to them? I think that’s a big problem for some of our folks.”

Kristen M., with 39 days sober, said just the idea that holidays are about drinking can cause problems.

“It’s like you have to do that to have a good time,” she said. “I’m lucky in that my family doesn’t drink or do drugs. As long as I stay around my family for the holidays, I’m normally OK. We play a lot of games at my family get-togethers and stuff like that. So I don’t really think about it as long as I’m with my family.” Read More…

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