Helping you get through the silly season

17 Nov 2020

For people living with addiction, or for those that are in recovery, times of celebration can be incredibly difficult. Craig Payne one of our Peer Support workers explains why and how to prepare.

For people living with addiction, or for those that are in recovery, times of celebration can be incredibly difficult. This is especially true in the lead up to, and over the Christmas period when your diary suddenly becomes jam-packed with family gatherings, catch-ups with friends and the obligatory work Christmas party. Unsurprisingly, alcohol is often the centrepiece of these celebrations and if you are someone that is trying to avoid drinking it can feel impossible being in the company of others who are. Feelings of isolation, guilt and shame often become amplified.

For others who are experiencing isolation, or who do not have positive associations with the Christmas period, this time can also be lonely or unsettling. Staying on the path to recovery can become harder if you are feeling vulnerable, so people may find it difficult to avoid alcohol, other drugs or gambling if they find this time of year confronting. It can also be hard or even triggering watching people who are not looking to make a change use alcohol, other drugs or gamble as part of the ‘silly season’ around you.

The key to getting through all of this is preparation.

Preparing yourself

But there are things that you can do to prepare yourself and help you get through the ‘silly season’. The first of these is to have a plan. This might include driving to the party so that you are not tempted to drink, having a support person with you that you can talk to or take a walk with if things get tough, or planning something for the next day that requires you leave early so that you have an exit strategy.

Support Groups

Support groups are also incredibly helpful and connect you to others who are going through similar experiences. The Counselling Online Peer Support Forum, Gambling Help Online Peer Support Forum, SMART Recovery, Alcoholic Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), or other peer groups will be able to assist you with planning and coping strategies. You might even meet someone that you can invite along to one of your parties for support. AA and NA also hold events, such as Christmas lunches and New Year’s Eve parties, and there’s nothing like being around people who share and understand the difficulties you face.

What cannot be underestimated is the power in talking to someone, whether that’s contacting one of the national online or telephone services (see contacts below), a doctor, psychologist or counsellor. Going through it alone is not the answer. Talking about why it is a difficult time of year for you will help take some of the pressure off and assist you with your planning.

You can say no!

Finally, it is ok to say no. If you don’t feel like you will be in control, perhaps give the party a miss, there will always be next year. Be honest with yourself, your family and your friends. By sharing what you are going through you can start to find solutions and over time, it gets easier.

Our partners, Sober in the Country, have put together a survival guide to help you prepare for the ‘silly season’. There is also a helpful Sober Christmas Survival Guide from Counselling Online and Get festive: 6 tips for self-kindness this holiday season from Gambling Help Online.

Help is available

For alcohol or other drug support: 1800 250 015 or Counselling Online

For gambling support: 1800 858 858 or Gambling Help Online