Tips for those in recovery for a sober and happy holiday season

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The holidays are known as the best time of the year. But for people in recovery from drugs or alcohol abuse, the season can be especially difficult.

It can even be a dangerous time. In fact, December is the most lethal month for people with substance abuse problems.

And it's not just about being around alcohol at parties. It has more to do with seeing people from your past and dealing with expectations.

The most wonderful time of the year comes with a hectic schedule and a lot of re-connecting with family and friends.

Maggie Hunt and Grace Shober say back when they had just gotten clean after years of drug and alcohol abuse, the holidays were difficult.

"In early sobriety, it was something that I almost dreaded," said Grace.

Grace says it wasn't the temptation to drink - it was the anxiety of facing family she had hurt in the past.

"Because I did a lot of bad things so it's not good to feel that way, it's not good to feel I hurt this person and now I'm around them so it was difficult," she said.

But now 4-and a half years sober, she says things do get easier.

Maggie is almost 10 years clean. Both now work helping others at Retreat, an addiction treatment center in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

They have tips to help this season, after all there are 22 million Americans in recovery from substance abuse.

First, be proud of your sobriety.

"I think there is a lot of guilt and shame for people when they first try to get sober and I want to slash that stigma, because anymore when people are trying to get sober, people are so proud of you to get sober," said Maggie.

Also, avoid risk factors and enlist sober friends.

"So you want to have a list of 5 to 10 people that you can call if you are not feeling good, if feeling on unsteady ground," said Grace.

"If you are struggling, most importantly ask for help, its okay if you are struggling around this time, silence is not helping anybody," said Maggie.

Both also suggest keeping a list of things you're grateful for. For them, their families are a reminder of the reasons they stay clean.

Finally, they tell others to keep going to AA and NA meetings during the holidays and especially if you're alone.

And don't isolate, make sure you reach out to others for help.


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