Transitions can be challenging, but they also present opportunities to reflect and even celebrate. The New Year is a transition we all experience every January when the calendar changes and we have to remember to write a new date on checks and paperwork. Many people around the world choose to use the New Year transition as an excuse to let loose and party all night on December 31. But now that you’re in addiction recovery, you might feel nervous about how you will honor the New Year without compromising your sobriety.
We offer some ideas below that will help you honor the New Year transition while also waking up on January 1, 2024, with a clear head and a peaceful heart.
Honor–and then Release–the Old
Whether you’re new to recovery or have been committed to sobriety for years, you can use the New Year as a chance to look back on 2023. What were the year’s challenges? How did you respond to them? What were the year’s gifts? What are you grateful for?
Sometimes reflections like these are really difficult. We don’t want to remember the ways we got stuck or the poor choices we made or how we caused pain to ourselves and others. We’re not suggesting that you make a list of all the things you regret and ruminate over them until you’re wallowing in guilt and shame. That will only become a trigger for relapse.
Instead, do your best to look at your experiences in 2023 with non-judgment. As you reflect and remember, keep your breath calm and steady. Notice which memories you mentally jerk back from. Can you relax your body, breathe, and observe those memories with compassion? Who or what helped you during those difficult times? Take some time to be grateful for this help.
Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health suggests making a list of the patterns, behaviors, and attitudes that are no longer serving you and that you don’t want to bring with you into the new year. Then, create a ritual in which you burn or shred the paper to symbolize releasing the past.
Welcome the New
While we don’t necessarily think New Year’s resolutions are the way to go (they can set you up for failure if your goals are too lofty), it can be helpful to envision, for a moment, the way you want to feel this year and what values you want to uphold for yourself. Perhaps the most important thing you want is to maintain sobriety. In that case, make a list of two or three things you want to remember to help you stay sober this year. Some possibilities might include:
- Committing to regular participation in your recovery community
- Remembering to take one day at a time
- Meeting regularly with a therapist to address the underlying issues that trigger your substance use
- Keeping a gratitude journal to record a few things each day that you’re grateful for
- Engaging in a creative pursuit that you find meaningful and fun
Don’t forget to have some fun this New Year’s Eve. Here are some ideas:
- Go big. Invite family and friends to your home for a night of games, music, food, party hats, kazoos, and the New Year’s Eve ball drop–all the fixins’ of a regular New Year’s Eve party without the substances (make it clear in your invitation that this will be a substance-free celebration). Think it’s hard to get wild and crazy without substances? Try a game like the Tortilla Slap Challenge. Or go for a classic like Twister.
- Go small. Stay at home with family or a friend and have a movie marathon with leftover holiday cookies.
- Have a nice dinner, go to bed early, and wake up refreshed and ready to host a New Year’s Day celebration.
- Encourage your recovery group to host an “Alco-thon,” a marathon of recovery meetings on various topics that may or may not end in a New Year’s Eve party.
- With a sober friend or family member, volunteer at a local organization or create a volunteer opportunity within your community.
- Offer to provide childcare for all of your friends who want to attend a New Year’s Eve party for adults. Create your own kid-friendly celebration followed by a sleepover.
Sobriety doesn’t have to exclude you from celebrations like New Year’s Eve. In fact, you might discover that you can have a lot more fun–and feel great the next day–when you aren’t numbing yourself with substances.
Find Refuge at St. Gregory Recovery Center
If you’re finding it hard to stay sober or if you’ve already relapsed, don’t give up. You haven’t failed. You’ve just discovered that your recovery plan needs some adjustment. Our team in Bayard, Iowa, can help you reevaluate and get back on track. Let us help you begin or recommit to a life of recovery.