Finding Sobriety During The Holidays

Posted on December 21, 2023 in Uncategorized


By Paul Burglin

Many of us set goals for the new year which is why gyms get busy after New Year's Day. Most are content to indulge their bad habits during the holiday season, whether it be eating a lot of sweets, foregoing exercise, or procrastinating with the writing of legal briefs.

Drinking and drugging are no different - few plagued by alcoholism or addiction want to address the problem while everyone else is having a jolly good time. "I'm gonna cut back or stop the first of the year!" is a common refrain.

Here's something to think about. If you are in the throes of alcoholism or addiction you may not survive the holidays, and if you do, you may not save your marriage or your job. What's more, how many times in the past have you promised yourself you would quit, only to let the deadlines go by?

I vividly recall checking into a residential treatment program on December 28, 1990, and attending my first AA meeting on New Year's Eve three days later. Looking out the window of my hospital room I watched cars drive by on a Friday evening and wondered to myself, "How did I end up in here?" It felt so surreal, and yet, coming up on 33 years since that night I am eternally grateful for checking in before New Year's and finding the gift of sobriety. It is life changing and you just have to find it within you to say, "Enough! I need help and I am going to get it." You will be amazed at how supportive people will generally be. Though you may not realize it, many of your friends and colleagues know you have a problem and are just relieved to see you doing something about it.

Perhaps like you, I initially thought I was too important for residential treatment. I had many obligations on my calendar and clients needed me. I didn't realize that the world could get on without me, just as it would if I dropped dead of a heart attack. Besides, how much good was I really doing for my clients when I was compromised by addiction? In truth, servicing my addiction always took precedence over everything else.

Some folks get sober and maintain sobriety by doing an out-patient program or attending AA or NA meetings, but the benefits of residential treatment are a controlled environment and time to just work on yourself. There is an education that comes with residential treatment - important tools for how to avoid a relapse. Relapses almost always begin prior to picking up the first drink or using a drug. The most common trigger is not going to 12-step meetings, but it can also just be negative thinking ("poor me, poor me, pour me another drink"), or walking down the liquor aisle in the grocery store just to see what the holiday wrapped liquor bottles look like. It's important to stay away from slippery people and slippery places.

If you are suffering from alcoholism or addiction feel free to reach out to a member of the NCDD Alcohol & Drug Task Force - we are people in recovery who are here to offer you confidential help. Feel free to reach out to any of us on the NCDD Task Force.

Doug Hazelton
Chris Llinas
David Singer
Allison Markoski
Amber Beaverson
Eric Torberson
Patrick Barone
Paul Burglin

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