Welcome, again, to that special time of the year of getting bombarded with ads showing the wonders of drinking and getting merry. When are we going to stop discovering new variations of worshiping alcohol and consuming it?! I don’t really notice the ads so much anymore, but when I put myself in the shoes of someone who is new to recovery, I feel dismayed on their behalf. Alcohol has become synonymous with Celebration, and it’s a shame that getting trashed seems socially acceptable, especially this time of the year.
We truly live in a world that’s delusional about this deadly drug (ethanol). And the end of the year seems especially offensive when we’re being fed lies about the magic of booze. Consider this: you’d never see a poster with a cheerful font announcing ‘tis the season to try a new kind of heroin. No ads on television showing the joys of smoking crack cocaine while welcoming the new decade. No articles in the newspaper showcasing recipes for crystal meth to serve at your NYE party. Those would be abnormal messages. Yes, I’m being glib, but my point is made—we are still, and always will be, living in a society where it seems not drinking is what’s abnormal. (And it’s alcohol that’s the real epidemic.)
For many of us, this time of the year—even after years of sobriety—is probably the most dangerous, as everything seems to confirm that it’s ok to live in a fantasy. It’s ok to believe in a white-bearded man sliding down the chimney with a sack full of newest pieces of plastic, it’s ok to spend money like it’s water, it’s ok to try to get together with a family that should perhaps never be in the same room, again, and it’s ok to eat too much and drink too much and just be too much. And once all of that is done, it’s definitely ok to stay up all night while losing yourself in the frenzy of bubbles and popping the corks. After all, it’s the end of the year, the new decade is just around the corner and we can start anew.
Of course we can always start anew. But letting the fantasy of the end-of-the-year debauchery take over our logic is dangerous and perhaps now more than ever it’s good to reconnect with some of our recovery tools. I’m not suggesting that we get obsessive over our addiction, but perhaps where others partake in the excess of drinking we can get a little excessive about our recovery. It doesn’t necessarily mean going to meetings (though that’s great for those of us who find it beneficial). And reading some literature about addiction, reading blogs about it (like this one), talking to sober friends, and checking in with family supporters could be a great way to strengthen our sober values. Also grabbing a good non-fiction book about addiction, an addiction memoir a documentary, or a movie about addiction, can help to take our mind off of the ads and can help bring us back to reality. And if you do decide to party, party responsibly and always prepare some strategies for situations that might put your sobriety at risk.
Finally, it’s good to remind yourself around this time that we’ve achieved so much—no matter where we are in our recovery—and that celebrating is good. Plus, it doesn’t have to be forced. Get outside if you can, admire the lights and the snow-covered trees (if you happen to live where there’s snow), and ignore all the craziness that tells you the best way to end this decade is to get drunk. It is not. The best way to end this decade is to stay balanced and aware. Happy New Year! My wish for you is that you enter 2020 sober and with reality always at your side!
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