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Tips for surviving Christmas

Tips & Tools for Surviving Christmas

Christmas can be a tricky time when you are in Recovery. Here are some tips that might help.

1.   Make sure you take some time for yourself, even if it just a walk around the block or a long bath. Keep up with your hobbies and VACI’s to keep you focussed in the present, and remember your self-care, just because you are not having your substance doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself.

2.   Remember that you are not responsible for making other people happy or making their Christmas perfect, that’s their job. Your responsibility is yourself. My making sure we are as fit and happy as we can be, we are then in the best position to interact with other people so it’s not selfish to put ourselves first, it’s best for everyone.

3.   Stick to your Recovery Routine, go to bed and get up at the same time, do the same activities you normally would to but maybe with a few more treats as it is Christmas! Watch out for the extra temptations over the holiday period

4.    Whether we celebrate Christmas or not,it’s good stay connected, give someone a call, a text, a WhatsApp or join in on an online chat.


‘Bug Out Bag’ Or ‘Me Box’

You could try putting together a box or bag with your favourite things and distractions.Maybe a journal, a favourite book, crosswords or Sudoku puzzle, sneaky bar of chocolate, favourite C.D or DVD etc. Whatever you like to do that helps keeps you calm and focussed on the present. Then when things get hectic or you feel your anxiety rising you have your go-to box already made and ready to put into action.


If you’re going out somewhere your substance is likely to be, here are tips to stay abstinent.

1 – Decide you are not going to use before you go.

There is no point waiting to see how you feel. You need to make not using a priority and go into this knowing that you are not going to use. A ‘maybe’ or a ‘I’ll decide when I get there…’ nearly always ends badly.

2 – Think yourself positive.

Not using isa mind game as much as anything else. Once you’ve decided to go for it, start feeling really good about it. You’re doing something really amazing right now!Stamp out any thoughts about being a loser or missing out. Alcohol and drugs do not have magic properties. They cannot transform a bad party into a good one.This stuff might feel hard right now, but you’re headed towards a much brighter, happier future.

3 – Prepare a response.

Most people won’t even notice that you’re not using, but it’s worth preparing a response for those who do ask about it. Shorter answers are the best. I’m driving / I’m tired / I’m on medication/Because I don’t want to, are all good explanations.Respond confidently and then move the conversation on.

4 – Act like a vegetarian.

Not using a substance is a bit like deciding not to smoke or eat meat. It’s not really that big a deal. Keep some perspective and remember that this is your decision. No one else’s. Anyone who tries to convince you that not using at Christmas is a crime are just trying to make themselves feel better about what they are using.They don’t care a damn about you.

5 – Plan what you can have.

Nothing will make you feel more left out and self -conscious than having to sip a glass of lukewarm water out of a plastic tumbler. You deserve to have nice things too.If you’re going to someone else’s house, take something with you. Your favourite non-alcoholic drink or a snack. Stay in control of this.

6 – Keep doing what works.

What’s been working for you so far? What are the things that help you stay on track, just as you’re about to lose it? Our daily routines tend to go out the window at this time of year and it’s easy to get run down. Make sure you keep in touch with your groups and non-using supportive friends. Don’t let your self-care slide; be selfish and make time to do the things that keep you sane.

7 – Ride the confidence wave.

You’re the boss of life, you’re in control of where you want to go – let people know that by enjoying the event on your terms!

8 – Always have an escape plan.

It’s fine to leave a party early. You came and now you’re going. It’s no big deal. Make sure you have a way of getting home (or someone who understands that you might want to exit early). If you’re the host, make sure you can escape for a break when you need it. Go to another room / go out for a walk / make a phone call. Do what you need to do and don’t feel bad about it.

9 - Put your Recovery tools into practice.

This is exactly what they are for, plans what tools you’d feel most useful before you go.

10 – Remember your Hoola-hoop.

Everything within that Hoola-hoop is your responsibility, everything outside it isn’t. If other people choose to use, or to judge you because you’re not using then that’s their problem and not yours.


If you are in a CRISIS, or are worried about someone you know, help is available. You’re not alone. The best thing you can do is talk to someone.

Call ‘Breathing Space’ or the ‘Samaritans’ on the numbers below or speak to someone you trust. If it is an emergency, or you are in immediate danger, call 999.

Don’t try to cope on your own.



Covid Community Helpline 0800 9520330

Samaritans 116 123 email: Their helpline is available 24 hours a day all through the year. They know that this is a difficult period for lots of people.

Breathing Space 0800 838587 Mental health and wellbeing helpline.

Adult Protection Phone Line 01383602200 Call this number if you are worried because you or someone you know is being harmed or neglected. SMS text service for people with a hearing loss 07781 480 185

Child Protection Police 101 or Social Work on 03451 551503If you consider a child(ren) or young person to be in IMMEDIATE danger, DO NOT wait, call the Police on 999.

NHS 24 111 Call NHS 24 if you are ill and it can’t wait until your GP surgery opens

Social Work out of hours’ emergencies03451 55 00 99

Citizens Advice and Rights Fife(CARF) 0345 1400 095 CARF Text phone for people with a hearing loss SMS: 0787 2677 904

Homeless Emergency Number 0800 0286231