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Holidays present challenges to those in recovery from substance abuse

For those in recovery from alcohol or other drugs, the holidays often present special challenges. Instead of focusing on one day at a time, they may have to take one minute at a time.

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.

Niagara Falls-based Northpointe Council Inc., formerly the Alcoholism Council in Niagara County, recommends those in recovery consider attending more support meetings or reaching out for extra support during the next several weeks. The council also suggested other tips:

1. Plan every day of your holiday season: Plan to spend most of your time with friends and family who are supportive of your recovery.

2. Ask for support from family and friends: Those truly supportive of your recovery will be happy to help.

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

4. Avoid treats that may contain alcohol: They include rum balls, punch and eggnog.

5. Keep going to support meetings: They do not stop during the holidays.

Family members and friends of people in recovery should consider these tips:

• Be mindful about the drinks being served at holiday gatherings: Avoid exposing the family member to alcohol and other substances of abuse.

• Allow open discussion of feelings regarding abstinence and sobriety.

• Encourage those in recovery to invite a recovering peer to gatherings.

• Offer to accompany the family member to recovery-related activities, such as support groups or sober holiday parties.

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

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

Northpointe Council officials encouraged those who fear a relapse during the holidays or that they have a substance abuse problem reach out for help. For more information, call the council at 282-1228 or visit