How To Utilize Your Recovery Coach For A Safe & Sober Holiday in Early Recovery

Are you utilizing your recovery coach to minimize the stress and reluctance to quickly approaching holidays?

The holiday season brings hustle and bustle, shopping, celebrations, parties, get togethers with stressful relatives, travel, and disruption of your recovery routine.

Experiencing the holidays for the first time sober doesn’t have to be a drag filled with triggers, cravings, and irrational self-destructive thoughts.

In times, such as the holidays, it is pertinent to sit down with your recovery coach and create a detailed plan of action to follow when dangerous situations arise.

How you can utilize your recovery coach to guide you through this holiday season safely and comfortably:

Are you utilizing your recovery coach to minimize the stress and reluctance to quickly approaching holidays?

In times, such as the holidays, it is pertinent to sit down with your recovery coach and create a detailed plan of action to follow when dangerous situations arise. Your recovery coach has managed his or her recovery successfully through many holidays, so use this to your advantage  Make a plan to meet several times during the next few days, so you identify potential relapse risk factors and create a plan to navigate through each safely.

How you can utilize your recovery coach to guide you through this holiday season safely and comfortably:

1 - Enlist recovery coach as a sober companion

It’s not always possible to choose sober parties and events for socializing during the holiday season.  

One of the best ways to rely on your recovery coach is to invite him or her along with you to celebrate  Christmas and New Years parties safely. Having a sober companion along with you will help hold you accountable for your actions. The event will be more natural, too. Having someone to talk with can be the difference between enjoying yourself or relapse.

Having your recovery coach accompany you to holiday celebrations is by far the best way to ensure an enjoyable time without worry.

If the holidays mean visiting your old hometown, take time to see old friends you enjoy; avoid those you used to drink or use drugs with.  Make plans now for how you’ll occupy your time while there, so you don’t find yourself with time to kill and fleeting thoughts of visiting the people who are still drinking or using. When possible, bring your coach.

2 - Vigilant phone calls and check ins

It’s not always possible for you recovery coach to accompany you to holiday parties or family holiday celebrations, so prepare a schedule for phone calls and check-ins.

The moments leading up to a party can create feelings of stress, reluctance, and insecurity. Phone your recovery coach before attending a holiday celebration to review your plan, to discuss how you will deal with persons at the party who cause you stress, who you used within the past, or have enabled you-you to drink or drug.

Not only is it important to call your coach before the event you should also schedule a phone call following the party. The morning after you might feel self-pity or depressed. Be honest with your coach about feelings of regret or remorse that may have caused you to become uncomfortable. The morning after celebrations where drugs and alcohol are present could cause you to question “why you cannot drink or drug like other family members or friends?’

Entertaining these questions alone could lead to irrational thinking, triggers, cravings and eventually relapse.  When you call your coach following an event, you are creating the chance to take an inventory of your feelings, behaviors, and actions.

These feelings can be dangerous and push you over the edge. Jump back into your recovery program by speaking with your recovery coach the very next day following a holiday celebration.

Checking in with your coach on a daily basis is a great practice to follow. During the holiday it makes sense to increase the number of times you check-in with your coach often, especially when you are performing a task which you feared might lead to a trigger, craving, or urge.

3 - Make a plan to deal with cravings and urges and address H.A.L.T.

You and your coach should always be creating safe ways to deal with cravings or urges. Have a list at the ready of what will

  • Trigger cravings

  • Dangerous situations to avoid

  • Plan and practice telling friends and family about your recovery.

Disempower cravings by:

  • Calling a coach or a  friend in your support network before, during, or after the celebration

  • Removing yourself from the dangerous situation

  • Reading recovery literature,

  • Saying the serenity prayer,

  • Going for a walk,

  • A quick workout before the event

  • A meeting before the party

  • Drinking some water,

  • Deep breathing for relaxation

  • Practice gratitude

Think about what has worked for you in the past, and be sure you are ready with some solutions.

The holiday days create chaos in your routine. It's easy to get swept away in all the festivities and forget to keep watch over how you are feeling consistently. Designate extra phone calls to your recovery to see if you are hungry, angry, lonely, tired (HALT).

4 - Prepare what to say when offered a drink or drugs

When asked if you want a drink or go snort a line its okay to say, “No, I’m in recovery.” There is less stigma today surrounding the recovery community than in the past. People are more educated about what it means to be in recovery. Of course, more work needs to be done to remove the stigma from the community altogether, but when you are loud and proud about your recovery, you will be empowered to do the right thing. You don’t have to hide or lie behind why you are not drinking.

In a recent post on LinkedIn, Trey Laird the CEO and Founder of The Lighthouse covers this topic.recent post on LinkedIn, Trey Laird the CEO and Founder of The Lighthouse covers this topic. In the post, he writes, “ The more people who know that I don’t drink or use drugs the fewer people he has to drink or do drugs with.” This statement is powerful and will save you from having to answer the question about having a drink over and over.

It's your choice to choose to tell your friends or family members whether you are in recovery. Still, take some time to speak with your sober coach about how you’ll answer this question. Practice what you will say with him or her, so the words roll off your tongue easily with authority. When you own whatever reason you are not drinking during the holiday celebration, you will create your safety net to keep those who would like to tempt you away.

One last point about being honest about your recovery. When a friend or family member knows the truth, they’ll be less likely to offer you a drink or a drug. Everyone knows someone in recovery today. Because of this, your friends will not think of you as broken or sick; instead, it might empower them to help you through this by not drinking or drugging so openly around you. Better yet, it might enable them to make the change you made and put down their own drink or drug.


5 - Examine the next few weeks events for dangerous situations or threats of relapse

Take time and plan the next few weeks with your coach. What could happen during this time to sabotage your recovery and set you up for a relapse.

Think about and prepare a plan for active early recovery during these next two weeks.

  • Who will you be seeing at parties, celebrations, events, and get-togethers? Of these people who might you want to avoid or tell you're in recovery? Who will tempt you and never take NO for an answer? Who might make your nervous or create feelings which might lead to cravings? Ex-wife? Former boss? Drinking and drugging friends? Old associations are dangerous to recovery, so keep close to those who want to see you succeed.

  • What situations do you have to be a part of? Can you skip any of this, especially ones which are typically filled with more alcohol and drugs than goodwill and holiday gratitude? You know what I mean what parties are just another excuse to get gone on alcohol and drugs. Do you really have or even want to be at these types of parties?

  • Where will these events take place? Are they happening in a bar, club? An old neighborhood that you often frequented to drink or use drugs in? Places are dangerous and can lead to triggers, cravings, obsession and ultimately relapse.

  • When will you be expected to be at the party> A good rule to follow is to show up early and leave early. You can explain your reason for not staying to the host, wish them happy holidays, and get off to a meeting or spend quiet holiday time with your family and loved ones.  

  • Most of all remember the reason why the holiday celebration is happening. The holidays are about giving and gratitude. Expressing your appreciation to those you love, support, work with and for. If you keep gratitude close, you’ll be less likely to let the events or past memories for the holidays lead you down the road to relapse.

6 - Alone for the holidays get creative with your recovery coach and create new traditions with your recovery family

Explain to your recovery coach the fear and hurt you might feel because you'll be alone for the holidays. Maybe it is too soon for you to return home for the holidays, but it doesn’t mean you have to be alone. Spend some time working through the regret and come up with a plan to work through this dangerous feeling.

Create your own celebrations and traditions to experience with new friends and connections in recovery.  If you have not been invited anywhere, do the inviting yourself.

If you are not going to be traveling alone for the holidays, ask you sober coach where you might be of service to the recovery community or helping others have a fantastic holiday season too. Plan your own celebrations. If you aren’t going traveling for the holidays, plan to celebrate with local AA, NA, or SMART Recovery friends.

7 - Create safe travel plans

Speak with your coach about traveling safely. Ask him or her tips about flying, where to find local meeting schedules, groups, or people to call he might know where you’ll be spending the holidays.


When you are flying take heed of your surroundings, for example, which is drinking next to you. You can’t fly in a No-Alcohol Section of the plan, but you can be asked to switch your seat to an area where the passengers are not celebrating the holidays during the flight.


Ask your recovery coach if he is available to fly  and spend the holidays with you. Maybe he or she knows of a sober travel companion you can employ to keep you safe and comfortable during the holiday season away from your support and connections in recovery. Build a list of phone calls and set up a premade schedule to check in or speak to your coach daily.

Now go talk and plan with your recovery coach

Plan, plan, and plan some more with your recovery coach about how to safely navigate through the next few weeks and make it to the new year proud of your accomplishment and commitment to recovery.

Plan for attending extra meetings. Plan to make phone calls before during or after a celebration, if you see someone who makes you angry or nervous, or to check-in. Plan to have recovery literature, a good nook, journal, or sober app downloaded to your smartphone.

The Lighthouse Recovery Coaching 365 Program is located in Fairfield County Connecticut. We are always available to speak with you or a loved one about forging new connections and personal pathways in recovery. Our team of certified addiction recovery coaches is versatile and knowledgeable about living in and coaching recovery.
Give us a call at 203-245-9534.
And have a safe and sober holiday-The Lighthouse.

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