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6 Ways to Find Gratitude in Sobriety During the Holidays

by Matthew Wexler

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Wednesday November 24, 2021

  (Source:Getty Images)

The holidays are a time of celebration but for those in recovery it can also be a triggering time when faced with people and places associated with past addiction. However, with a few simple strategies, the coming weeks can be filled with joys of the season, all while staying true to yourself.

Recovery Unplugged, an innovative drug and alcohol treatment center with locations in South Florida, Texas, Virginia and Tennessee, is a forerunner in its approach to helping clients get and stay sober.

Utilizing the power of music from the moment a client first enters treatment and throughout their stay, both the physiological and psychological impact of our favorite artists can seemingly move mountains. But it's not magic. Studies have shown how music can promote mental health and functioning in different settings. For clients and alumni at Recovery Unplugged, it's all about maintaining a sense of community.

Recovery Unplugged alumni coordinator Chace Andrea.
Recovery Unplugged alumni coordinator Chace Andrea.  (Source: Recovery Unplugged)

Chace Andrea is both an alumnus and employee of Recovery Unplugged, working as an alumni coordinator at its Fort Lauderdale facility. Creating this sense of support is critical, particularly for the LGBTQ+ community. The CDC reports startling health disparities among LGBTQ+ youth, including 23% who have used illicit drugs and a staggering 48% who have seriously considered suicide.

After Chace's first attempt at getting sober at a different facility, he felt propelled back into the life he left behind.

"I remember when I was using — I was so depressed, had nowhere to go, no one to talk to," he recalls. "It was a snowball of isolation and depression that climaxed on those specific holidays. Coordinating events around the holidays gives people a safe place to be, hang out sober and share community."


Having a holiday action plan is one of the best ways to ensure not having a slip. Even those moments of celebration and festivity can quickly shift to temptation. Here are five tips to stay sober and find gratitude this holiday season:

1. Create a holiday playlist.
Recovery Unplugged's treatment is rooted in the power of music. Whether it's a particular lyric that resonates or that drumbeat that gets you off your feet, tapping into your emotions through music is a great way to release some of the feelings and emotions around a given situation. Some of our favorite openly sober artists include Ryan Cassata, Lana Del Rey, Jennifer Hudson, and Elton John, to name a few!

2. Pick up the phone.
"My biggest thing was isolation," says Chace. Pick up the phone and call someone you're close to — the time you don't want to talk to someone is when you should pick up the phone." It's a good idea to have a shortlist of three names of people who know you may be reaching out during the holidays. Everyone's plans tend to escalate during this time, so it's best to have a backup if you cannot reach somebody on the first try.

3. Practice saying "No."
At larger gatherings, not everyone may be aware that you're sober. You're under no obligation to share personal information unless you want to, but it's a good idea to have a response ready if offered alcohol, phrased in whatever way feels comfortable to you.

4. Create a gratitude list.
We can do just about anything for a few weeks, right? From now until the end of the year, start each day by writing down three things you're grateful for. It's okay if you repeat yourself!

5. Spoil yourself.
It's the holidays after all, and who knows you better than yourself for that special gift? It doesn't need to be anything grand. Small gestures can have a big impact. Maybe you start your day with a specialty coffee drink or treat yourself to some take-out and a movie on the couch. Books — remember those? Even Oprah's in on the action with a shortlist of her favorite .

6. Pay it forward.
Having survived dark times, you know better than anyone that life can turn around. Volunteermatch.org can connect you with a volunteer opportunity in your community or virtually.


And if you find yourself at the precipice of using again or know someone who is struggling with drugs or alcohol, Chace says, "There is a way out. And that way out is through picking up the phone and talking to someone. People are there to help you. It's difficult to do it alone, but someone is always there to help you. It's going to change your life for the better."

Are you or someone you love struggling with drugs or alcohol?
Recovery Unplugged offers LGBTQ-welcoming substance abuse treatment.

Visit recoveryunplugged.com or call 855-909-8818.

Matthew Wexler is EDGE's Senior Editor, Features & Branded Content. More of his writing can be found at www.wexlerwrites.com. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @wexlerwrites.

How Music Medicine Heals

This story is part of our special report titled How Music Medicine Heals. Want to read more? Here's the full list.