Resolutions in Recovery: How to Stick to Your Goals this New Year

The holiday season is a joyful time for most people. However, for people in recovery, it could be considered a minefield filled with high expectations, overcommitment, and fatigue. These can lead to heightened emotions, mood swings, and stress. Holiday traditions, memories and events linked to alcohol or other drug use can be triggering. Still, there are ways to prepare for the season and protect your sobriety–the greatest gift you could ever give yourself and the people you love.

There are ways to bounce back after relapse occurs and set a prevention plan to avoid it from happening in the future. At Discovery Institute in Marlboro, New Jersey we can help you learn how to set resolutions in recovery.

7 Ways to Lower Your Risk of Relapse During the Holiday Season

Have a plan ready to support and protect your sobriety before important events at work or home. Relapse prevention is all about planning. This could include:

  • Go to a meeting before or after the event
  • Attend the event with a friend in recovery or your sponsor
  • Don’t depend on anyone else for transportation–make sure you can leave at any time
  • “Bookend” the event–plan before and after phone calls to someone in recovery
  • Put a limit on your time with difficult people or in stressful situations–always have an escape plan

Talk to a friend, your sponsor, or a counselor about your expectations and emotions concerning the holidays. This is called “calculating reality.” The holiday season won’t be the same as it was when you were a child. Other people may be stressed out and even depressed. Your awareness will help lower your expectations and enable you to forgive yourself and others. Instead of going in on the defensive, take the offensive and consider what the right thing to do in the situation is.

In addition, you should be aware that some individuals are at their most vulnerable after the holidays. Sometimes the stress and resentments that may arise over the holidays can lead to rationalization–you may convince yourself that you’re entitled to use or drink afterward. Some addicts do better during the crisis than after it. Bear in mind that the disease of addiction is as strong the day after a holiday or event as it is the day before.

You have a spiritual opportunity during the holiday season to practice focusing on other people with joy and gratitude. It will take some courage to do this but, because you’re in recovery, you have already shown the ability for courage and change. Imagine different ways to think about others such as:

  • Volunteer to serve a meal at a homeless shelter
  • Reach out to a newcomer
  • Spend time with someone who is confined to their home

When you go to a social gathering, it’s usually helpful to have something to drink in your hand so others don’t constantly offer you a drink. Additionally:

  • Get your beverage and keep track of it
  • If someone gets a beverage for you, watch how it’s being made
  • If someone gets you an alcoholic drink or if you accidentally pick up the wrong drink and swallow some alcohol, it doesn’t mean you’ll relapse BUT be careful about rationalizing such as:
  • Thinking that you can handle it
  • Believing that your abstinence taught you to control your drinking
  • If that happens, tell someone who supports your recovery as soon as possible. Although a mistake is not a relapse, it can lead to one if kept secret.

If you know someone is going to criticize you, avoid that person. Likewise, avoid anyone who will try to get you to drink or engage in drug use. If the office party (or any other party) is all about drugs and alcohol, make a quick appearance and leave, or don’t attend in the first place. You know it’s not realistic to believe that you can go without using and just push through it. You don’t have that power.

Celebrate the season by taking time for some self-care. Proper nutrition and physical exercise can help a lot. When you feel better physically, you will be stronger emotionally. Take the time for reflection and connecting with the people you love. Take some quiet time every day for meditation and relaxation, no matter how busy you are.

Many people think that the holidays are not a good time to start treatment but it’s the best time. The thinking is that the holidays are a happy time when people should be together, even if this isn’t the case in reality. Generally, addiction increases over the holidays. The holidays are an emotionally stressful time when the use of substances is prevalent. This makes it very difficult for an individual with addiction to avoid using. Getting treatment during the holidays could be the best gift you could give your family.

Setting Resolutions in Recovery for the New Year

resolutions in recovery for the new year

New Year’s resolutions are popular. The new year is a good time to reflect on the past year and set goals for the new one. But most goals and resolutions don’t last more than a few weeks because they usually require changes. When setting resolutions in recovery, you should set small, attainable, SMART goals such as:

  • Specific: Decide on a goal, and provide enough detail to define the goal clearly, and how you’ll reach that goal. Enough detail diminishes indecision about what you should be doing.
  • Measurable: You can take note of changes when you see measurable progress toward your goals. Can your goal be measured? Things like scheduling healthcare appointments, spending time with your children each week, or getting a new job are measurable goals.
  • Achievable: A goal should be possible relative to your current economic, social, or cultural resources. Is it something you can do? Do you have what you need to accomplish it? For example, purchasing a mansion isn’t achievable for most people but finding stable housing is.
  • Relevant: Ask yourself why you should have the goal and how it will affect your life when you achieve it. Remember to keep all your goals in line with the bigger picture.
  • Time-bound: Is there a timeframe for accomplishing each goal? Deciding when you want each goal achieved helps you work toward it.

Making Your Resolution in Recovery a Reality

setting resolutions in recoveryHere are some ways to help you stay on the path to achieving your goals:

  • Look into a new hobby: Learn a new language, paint, learn to play an instrument
  • Exercise: Exercise reduces stress and anxiety
  • Connect with others: Choose a group of loved ones you can depend on for support
  • Ask for help if you need it–

Reach out to loved ones, a sponsor, or a professional if you need help

  • Keep a positive attitude: It’s easy to become frustrated at times but a positive attitude can help and adding mindfulness meditation can help release negativity
  • Help other people in recovery: If you’ve been in recovery for a while, you can help someone else by being a sponsor or doing volunteer work in the community
  • Start a recovery journal: Writing for even 15 minutes a day is a good way to cope, understand your emotions, and identify what triggers your cravings

Tips to Maintain Long-Term Recovery Resolutions in Recovery

You can make your plan more manageable by choosing to stay sober one day at a time. The present moment is the only thing we have control of.

Setbacks are common in addiction recovery so If you make a mistake, forgive yourself. It just means you need to readjust your goals.

After a long period of substance use, it can be difficult to focus on new activities. Take part in hobbies and activities you always enjoyed or discover new passions that can replace your old, harmful habits.

Although staying active and maintaining structure is important in recovery, don’t forget about taking care of yourself by setting aside time just for yourself each day.

While some people can abstain from substance use with only 12-step meetings, treatment by professionals is essential to any plan for recovery.

Make Your Recovery Goals a Reality at Discovery Institute

new year resolutions in recoveryIf you had a slip over the holidays and are struggling to get back on track, The Discovery Institute can help you re-focus on your goals. If you are just contemplating going for treatment, we can help you set up a personalized treatment program that addresses your personal goals and requirements.

The Discovery Institute in Marlboro, NJ is a treatment center that can provide the full spectrum of services including:

The year has just begun. Your resolutions in recovery can become a reality. Contact us today.