• Matthew Cermignano

Bridgeway's Motivation - Personal Stories From Our Team

Relapse Prevention During the Holidays


The holiday season is an enjoyable time of year for all of us. It is a time for family, a time

for memories, it is a time for giving and gathering with the people you love. So much of what we see on TV, in movies, or in commercials, shows pure happiness from people during the holidays. Families gather around a Thanksgiving table, a huge bow on a brand new car in the snow, and the smiles of children light up your heart. It all looks so genuine and pure.


However, that happiness may not be the case for everyone, as we see on TV. For a

a recovering addict, a holiday, any holiday, can be difficult; let alone a season in which there are four major holidays in a matter of months. Whether you have been sober for decades, or just a few days, it can be an easy trigger. Many may ask, “why?” “What could possibly make you want to use when you’re surrounded by so much love, eating homemade food, decorating the house with lights and ornaments?” Well, that is exactly why.




Many addicts, despite how much time they may or may not have in sobriety, don’t have access to their families. Other addicts that do have their families in their lives, may not have the ways or means to support that huge Thanksgiving dinner or give the gifts that other family members can. They’re still piecing their lives back together and it becomes an added stress. And, then are some addicts with just a few days sober, with nowhere to go.


In a time like this, it is my suggestion and the suggestion of many addicts and alcoholics who have come before, to simply pray and live just for today. Find a meeting, then find another meeting. Call an addict, then call another. Most clubhouses run 24-hour rooms during this time of year. Many fellowships have gatherings, where you are surrounded by the love of other addicts. Where you can eat and talk with one another for hours.


Whatever you have done to stay sober this long, those are the same tools to use during this season. We have to remember one thing, we are powerless. We are powerless over whether or not our family wants to be with us for Thanksgiving. We are powerless that our lack of job experience does not afford us the luxury to buy nice Christmas or Hanukkah gifts this year. The more we live in the mindset of allowing our current limitations in life to consume us, the more prone we are to picking up a drug or a drink.


I know a guy who's been clean and sober for just over ten years. This will be his first

Christmas with his family. He spent the first handful in prison and then the last few picking up the pieces of the damage his addiction caused him. He had to start with the basics and keep it rolling. He attended 90 meetings in 90 days and got a sponsor. He read literature and worked the steps. His life was miserable at times but he was able to find hope in the fact that other addicts around him had been able to find recovery and gain back some of what they lost.


I have another friend, she is in her first year of sobriety. Fortunately for her, her family has stuck by her side. But due to the fact that she now lives out of state, she can’t afford a flight home, and neither can her parents. It’s an easy excuse to use when you become homesick and depressed, while many of your other friends fly home to see their loved ones or live locally and it is only a car ride away. That is when we cling to fellowship the most. We increase our meeting attendance, we gather with other addicts who aren’t going home for the holidays and we share the holidays with them. We chip in some money and cook together and if you can't afford to chip in, they still let you eat. Why? Because we have all been there and we have all gotten through it together. The key word there is “TOGETHER.”

The bottom line here is, recovery is never easy. It doesn’t matter the amount of clean

time you’ve accumulated, your financial status, where you live, what car you drive, or what

you can or cannot afford. The fellowship around us is what keeps us coming back and what

continues to give the next addict or the next alcoholic a bit of hope. We may not be with our

families this year for whatever holiday we celebrate, but that certainly doesn't mean we never will.


One day at a time, we, as addicts, can accomplish anything. But we need to get through

today in order to get to tomorrow. The biggest key to remaining sober during the holidays is to cling to fellowship as if your life depends on it because it does. Your experience during the holiday season, good or bad, is temporary, and staying sober through it may end up helping another addict who is struggling in the future. We’re in this together.

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