Keep the Fa in Your La and the Holly in Your Jolly

The holidays are upon us and while this can be a great time of joy, it is a source of increased physical, emotional, spiritual and financial stress for many individuals. This is especially true for those in recovery from addictive illness, and family and friends of those living with active addiction. Of utmost importance at this time of year is reliance upon a strong network of peers to provide support and encouragement as well as an opportunity to celebrate the holidays in recovery.

There are many tips to help you survive and thrive during the holiday season and into the New Year, to reduce risk of reoccurrence of addictive illness and also to increase the chance to have a “holly jolly” season.

  • Keep in contact with your support network. If you feel triggered to use addictive substances, reach out to a peer in recovery.
  • Be alert at all times! Many drinks and desserts contain alcohol which does not burn off completely during the cooking or baking process. This may trigger a relapse for many individuals. ASK and when in doubt, LEAVE IT OUT! Pour your own drinks and keep it in your sight at all times.
  • Have a backup plan in place if you will be attending a holiday or family event. This could include having your own car, a peer in recovery attending with you, “arriving late and leaving early,” or possibly avoiding the event all together if your recovery is at risk.
  • Plan your own recovery holiday events including friends in recovery and their family members.
  • Be of service to the community which may help you find meaning in the holiday season.
  • Don’t forget self-care! Make sure to get plenty of rest and stay hydrated. Water infused with fresh fruits or herbs may help lift your mood. Continue your exercise routine or start one now!
  • Remember that NO is a complete sentence. It is okay to say NO and set limits with people if you are feeling overwhelmed or if you feel your recovery is jeopardized.
  • Consider homemade gifts in place of store bought items. Be creative!  The most appreciated gifts are from the heart.
  • You may decide to seek professional guidance if you find the holidays are leaving you feeling depressed or anxious or if you feel an increase in cravings to use addictive substances. Grief and loss also may impact your recovery during the holidays, and it is important to seek support to understand the feelings that may emerge at this time of year.
  • Honor old traditions, but also consider starting new traditions to acknowledge your recovery lifestyle. Create the spirit in your life that you crave!
  • Increase attendance at peer recovery support meetings and recovery events. Many organizations will sponsor marathon meetings around this time of year. To find information about recovery activities and holiday meetings in the area, visit , or For a comprehensive list of local peer recovery meetings, visit
  • To become a part of the Sussex County Recovery Community, “like” us on Facebook or visit
  • If you are living with addiction and want help, please visit and consider calling 1-844-NJ CLEAR to be connected to a peer recovery coach to assist you in determing your path for recovery.
  • Finally, if you or someone you know is in need of treatment or support, contact The Center at 973-383-4787. We are here to serve your needs and have a multitude of programs to assist you in achieving abstinence and maintaining a life of recovery.

We hope you will find joy in your recovery this holiday season and wish you all the best in 2017!