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The 12 Steps of Christmas in Recovery: Step 11

The 12 Steps of Christmas in Recovery: Step 11

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The lords leaping and the ladies dancing have got the party going. The farm animals are all running a muck and suddenly this super-band of 11 dudes with pipe-instruments come in and break out in a jam session.

I take back what I said earlier about your true love… this is getting turnt.

With one more day to go in the 12 Steps of Christmas in Recovery, we are grateful for Step 11 giving us a chance to get grounded again. Ask the band to play some mellow jazz for a minute.

Step 11: Seek more of the Christmas spirit with through prayer or meditation

In earlier steps we talked about the importance of self-awareness and honest reflection, so with the prayer and meditation of Step 11 we seek to further connect with our Higher Power, whatever that means to you, in order to align with the spirit of Christmas.

For some of those who are still not so sold on the whole idea of spirituality, prayer might still be a little outside of your comfort zone. Remember, that is fine. For those who embrace the practice of prayer, you can take some time out for yourself on Christmas to seek a deeper spiritual connection to the experience.

For those who would prefer to meditate, take time for yourself to reflect quietly on what Christmas means to you. You don’t have to go sit cross-legged in a room with candles to do this. See if you can manage a few moments here or there to truly take a step back and witness all that you have received this Christmas.

I don’t mean just stare at your presents. Actually think on the impact your sobriety has had on the holiday. Look back at every step you have taken up to this point and seek to understand with how it has made a difference to you and the people who love you. Seek a stronger connection to this moment and this holiday through a deeper understanding of it.

The meaning behind being merry…

Meditation and prayer can show us even more of what the true meaning of being merry is. When we pray or meditate honestly and openly, we make room for more of that meaning to be revealed. The truth behind our joy and our merriment is so much more than you can put under the tree. A wise person once said that nothing has any meaning except the meaning we give it. If that is true, what meaning are you giving to Christmas? How are you aligning with the spirit of the celebration?

Ask how far you have come by doing the work on yourself to be more close with others. Ask yourself what is possible if you continue to be the person you set out to be when you got clean and sober, and how it makes these memories so much more. Somewhere in there, we can seek gratitude for what gifts we’ve been given. Not just the toys and gadgets, or the clothes and cards, but the gift of being alive and sober and with people who you care about. To have people who care about you to spend the holiday with.

Christmas in recovery is an amazing thing, and for some of us the meaning behind being merry is true fulfillment through tremendous gratitude. For our lives, for our hopes, and for each other.

Prayer and meditation are just some of the ways we can work on appreciating Christmas. Sometimes, we have to keep praying for those who are still struggling this holiday season. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now. The greatest gift you can give is letting someone know you care, and want to help.

 CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

The 12 Steps of Christmas in Recovery: Step 3

The 12 Steps of Christmas in Recovery: Step 3

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Guess what folks… we are in Step 3 of our 12 Steps of Christmas series! We are happy to share our ideas on how the 12 Steps most commonly associated with fellowships for alcohol or drug addiction recovery can actually be applied to other aspects of life. These concepts on self-awareness, reflection and compassionate action have such incredible value, that formatting them to talk about the stresses of the holidays seems like a pretty good way to spread some Christmas spirit and cheer.

We look forward to reading your comments and seeing what you think can be done to help support people in recovery during the Christmas season! While relapse is always something to protect against, the stress from relationships you may still be in the process of repairing can be pretty intense itself.

The 12 Steps of Christmas in Recovery: Step 3

Step 3: Made a decision to turn your Holiday over to the care of your Higher Power.

Some people are probably reading this one like “PAUSE, we already did the talk about the Higher Power stuff in Step 2, don’t wanna do it again!” So before you get too worked up, let’s just relax. We remind you that this isn’t about trying to sell you on any specific concept of a god, or an established faith, or a belief system. We are not trying to recruit you.

That being said, we will talk about the whole Higher Power business a bit more, but not much.

But first, can we talk about the “French hens” from your true love… I mean, what is so French about them, anyway? Do they eat croissants? Isn’t this discrimination against hens? I demand an explanation!

When we say turn your holiday over to this Higher Power, we are not saying your sobriety for Christmas will be contingent on whether or not you have accepted a certain god into your life. Some people think when we talk about turning control over, it means you get to cop-out and take no responsibility.

Have a little faith in the holiday spirit…

Going back to the beginning in Step 1 of Christmas, we know that things with our families or friends can be unmanageable; meaning we are not always in control of how everyone gets along during the holidays. We are not in control of which uncle starts arguing about politics at the dinner table, or of which aunt decides to try and cook for the first time since that one year that nobody brings up anymore. You can’t control how many pairs of socks you unwrap this year, or how many times you hear the same carols over… and over… and over!

You also aren’t in control of how others may react to your sobriety either. If they are doubtful, suspicious or even overbearing, you cannot change them by force. It might just take some patience and some follow-through. Once we can accept that we are not in control of everything, we can learn to let go and try to have some of that ‘faith’ stuff people keep talking about.

Most of all, you can’t control anyone else’s feelings. In recovery from addiction, we learn to let other people be who they are, and to try to be the best version of ourselves in response. We learn to bring all the joy to the world we can without drugs or alcohol, and let the rest take care of itself.

Like in Step 2, we can either put that faith in a God of our understanding, in a Higher Power or belief system we have, or simply in the goodwill toward others that we always hear about during Christmas time. Just giving up the attempt to control the holidays and allowing yourself to be present in the celebration can make Christmas so much easier.

Control and responsibility aren’t always the same…

The idea that being responsible means always being in control is a foolish way to look at the world. The truth is turning things over helps you focus your responsibility for what you actually can control.

No one is always in control of everything in their lives, even the most powerful and influential people on earth. Sometimes the mistletoe of life catches you off guard. Whether we like it or not, life has a way of surprising us. So when we talk about turning things over to something outside yourself, we mean relinquishing some control, not responsibility.

Of course, you still have to be responsible for how you react, and how you treat others. During the holiday chaos, we can still be considerate of their discretions or even their suspicions of our recovery. It isn’t really the purpose of hour Christmas to win them over. We can simply try to apply all that we have learned and all we are trying to accomplish to show people we care about doing better. We can still set our boundaries and be responsible for maintaining them, even with our families.

You still might find some lumps of coal in the stockings, but at least you know in recovery you are strong enough to take some lumps and keep it moving.

Forget the French hens though, I don’t know if I trust that.

Surviving Christmas with the family sometimes means turning things over and only taking responsibility for yourself. In recovery, you have a new chance at loving your family and friends the way you always meant to. Maybe that means accepting the gift as it is. But if you or someone you love is still struggling during the holiday, ask for help. Please call toll-free now. You are not alone.

CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

The 12 Steps of Christmas in Recovery: Step 2

The 12 Steps of Christmas in Recovery: Step 2

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Welcome to another exciting edition of the 12 Steps of Christmas; our own take on the classic Christmas carol, with a sobriety-themed twist to try and bring some more compassion and insight to a cheerful time of year for those of us in recovery from drugs or alcohol. Substance use and addiction can make the season a tough time, but we want to help anyone who may be struggling or just people in recovery who need a little inspiration, to get in the right state of mind for the holiday.

Of course, we want to hear your feedback, and we are happy to share with our followers and friends more of the 12 Steps of Christmas.

The 12 Steps of Christmas in Recovery: Step 2Step 2: Came to believe a Power Greater than myself could restore my holiday cheer

 

You may remember that in Step 1 of Christmas we talked about unmanageability and about how the holidays and our loved ones are pretty much out of our control. So then what do we do?

Well, for this one the 2 turtle doves probably aren’t going to cut it. For those familiar with the 12 Steps used in many recovery fellowships, there comes the concept of believing a Power Greater than yourself can help you out. Now for some, this can be the most difficult aspect of 12 Step programs because any implication of concepts like faith or spirituality can create contempt or frustration. People may resist this idea, thinking it is pushing a certain god or religion onto them.

Some people think Santa is more realistic than a god. Well, fine… try delivering presents to all the nice kids in the world in one night with only a few reindeer and a belly full of Oreo cookies! Now THAT is a power greater than you, for sure!

St. Nicholas with the mic drop!

We are not here to argue the idea of any god. We aren’t trying to force anyone into some kind of religious epiphany or preach any gospels. But, for those who are open to exploring the idea of a Higher Power; it can be extremely helpful when we talk about the struggles we face during stressful holidays.

Step 2 is all about finding the willingness to believe something outside of yourself can help you through this holiday. Sure, you should also be aware of yourself and your actions. But be open to the idea that you don’t have to force the holiday to be special, it just is.

Tis the season for believin’ dude!

Rejoicing without religion…

Now, of course, one thing is that not everyone celebrates Christmas in the first place. Different religions and cultures celebrate in various ways during this time of year.

We are pleased to wish everyone a Happy Chanukah, a Joyous Kwanzaa, and everything in between. In no way are we saying sobriety depends on your commitment to a faith during any holiday. For those who find themselves celebrating Christmas, there can be a great deal of diversity in how you celebrate and why. Even though is it historically a Christian holiday, plenty of non-Christians, atheists, and agnostics still celebrate. According to the 2014 General Sociological Survey:

  • 21% of the American population does not identify with a religion

Younger people tend to be the majority of these trends. Yet, according to a new Pew Research Center survey:

  • 90% of Americans celebrate Christmas
  • 95% of Christians say they celebrate Christmas
  • Only 46% of Americans say they celebrate as primarily a religious (rather than cultural) holiday, down from 51% who said this in 2013

So, with so many people not subscribing to the traditional guidelines of the Christianity, there are plenty of ways to celebrate Christmas without needing to fall in line. In early recovery, a lot of people are still trying to find a foundation to build some kind of understanding of spiritual concepts. So now isn’t the time to push them too hard in one direction or another. Just use this time as a chance to be more open to the joy and cheer that come your way.

You don’t have to be “spiritual” to be in the Christmas spirit…

For those who consider themselves spiritual or faithful, connection with your Higher Power can be the key to getting through the holidays. Some may view this time of year as a specific celebration of their faith and therefore should take every opportunity to remind themselves through the difficulties they face in recovery to appreciate and honor that connection to family and friends.

For those who do not consider themselves spiritual or faithful, you might even consider the holiday itself to be a source of power. The energy and the atmosphere it creates between people might be just enough to help you feel even more compassion and connection to those you love. Even if people don’t want to spend their Christmas in church or in prayer, you can still take the time to connect with your family and friends. Maybe that is what will restore your holiday cheer; the love you have with those you are close to. It doesn’t have to be a god or a faith, just be grateful and present for these moments.

Recovery from substance use disorder gives us the opportunity to cherish things and celebrate life in a new way. Believing that something bigger than you, even if it just Santa Clause or the Christmas spirit, can help bring the joy back into experiencing the holidays with your family and friends. Try to appreciate the chance to be clean, sober and with the people who mean the most to you. If nothing else, that is powerful beyond measure.

And leave some cookies and milk out… just in case.

Take some time this year to be open to the joy of the holidays, even if you don’t know where that cheer comes from. If you are struggling this holiday season, ask for help; not just for your family but, for yourself. Give yourself and those who love you the most the best gift you can. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.

CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

Thanksgiving in Sobriety: 4 Tips to Make it Work

Thanksgiving in Sobriety: 4 Tips to Make it Work

For some of us, the holidays can be hard. Whether you are new to sobriety, in long-term recovery, or just a human being who just happens to live in a world with holidays, certain times of year can bring on a lot more stress than you would prefer to deal with. Thanksgiving can be one of these difficult times of the year. Some of us find it overwhelming to be surrounded by so many relatives and close friends because it can lead to high-stress social situations. Like when that one uncle brings up politics or that one aunt talks about their much more successful child. Or like when the parents bring up that time you pawned all their jewelry and crashed their car running from the cops.

No? Okay so maybe that is a very specific example.

Either way, Thanksgiving can be tough. Some of us in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction might not be able to spend this holiday with our families. We might feel isolated or even left out if our addiction has placed us in a situation where we cannot be directly present with our loved ones. Or we may find it a challenging situation simply because it is usually a day we remember drinking.

But still, there is always a great deal to be thankful for.

This week, as the holiday season comes in full force, we wanted to share 4 ways to get through Thanksgiving in sobriety for those who might be having a little more trouble than others.

  1. Be present

Too often people forget that holiday gatherings aren’t so much about the food or the partying. They are about the quality of time being spent together. Being present and in the moment will help you to actually enjoy the holiday instead of stressing over it. Even if you are not physically present with your family, being more available to those you are able to be with can make Thanksgiving in sobriety more enjoyable.

And you can still be available for your family and friends that aren’t around by reaching out over the phone and giving them some of your time as well.

If you go into the holiday with the head-space of being a drag, you will probably follow through with that. But if you chose to be actively engaged in you can easily give new meaning and feeling to the experience.

  1. Decide how to talk about it

Sometimes the fact that you are in recovery will come up, so you should decide how you want to talk about it… if you want to talk about it. The great thing is you aren’t required to tell anyone who doesn’t know. You don’t have to explain yourself. Just let people know you don’t drink.

When it comes to family or friends who do know about you issues with substances, decide how comfortable you feel with this conversation. Be willing to address concerns, but also set boundaries. You still have to take care of yourself, especially in early recovery.

Try to focus the conversation on the good side, like the fact that you are enjoying a Thanksgiving in sobriety with them. Some people will want to focus on the bad, but you can still decide how you are going to talk about it. To stay in the spirit and be present, talk about the solution you have now, not the problem you were facing.

  1. Include your support system

Having a strong support system is a vital part of long-term recovery. Whether it is relatives, close personal friends or people from the recovery community, having people to have your back definitely helps. Holidays are all about connection, so stay connected to those who share your experience. Let your family members know you’re going to be leaning on them for support if things get hectic.

Also, have people outside of the family to reach out to. If you are involved in a recovery fellowship or support group, connect with your peers to learn how they handle similar situations. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Include people who know what you are going through and who can help keep you on track.

  1. Get in the Thanksgiving Spirit

One way to enjoy Thanksgiving in sobriety is to actually commit to the idea of Thanksgiving. This is a holiday all about being grateful for what you have and giving thanks and love to those closest to you.

If you are grateful this Thanksgiving, be sure to give some of yourself. You can help the family with making food or setting up, or you can go beyond that and give in other ways. Sometimes people in recovery find ways to volunteer for the holidays. Participate in some form of community activity that gives back and helps those in need.

Being enthusiastic about the opportunity to share this time with your loved ones and give to others can help you overcome the hang-ups you might encounter. If you can try to get in the spirit of the holiday, it won’t be so much about drinking or stressing over everything and more about spending the time with the people you love.

The spirit of the holiday is to celebrate what you have. If you are sober you have something pretty significant to be celebrating, right? Thanksgiving in sobriety lets us reconnect with those we love and show gratitude for the second chance at life. It shouldn’t be all that hard to get into the spirit of being grateful. The real good feeling comes from loving and giving back.

We would like to offer you the FREE GIFT of a checklist to help decipher if you are helping or hurting a loved one who is struggling with addiction.

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Always remember during the holidays to take care of yourself. For Thanksgiving in sobriety be grateful for how far you have come. If you are still struggling with an addiction, now is the time to get help, so that you can give your loved ones the peace of mind they deserve so you can have even more to be thankful for.  If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.  

 CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

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