Counselor offers suggestions for New Year's sobriety

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WAND)- New Year’s celebrations can be challenging for alcoholics in recovery and others trying to stay sober, behavioral health workers warn.

"A lot of people who are coming right into recovery, they might not know how to do these celebrations without using the substances, without getting intoxicated or getting into their old habits, so one challenge would be to get new habits,” explained Emily Dungey, an outpatient therapist at Memorial Behavioral Health-Counseling Associates.

Counselors at Memorial offered suggestions for people in recovery as well as their families and friends:

  • Have a Plan. Know where you are going and what time you should leave. If you are going to party where people will be heavily drinking, once it starts to get out of hand, it’s time to head out! Drink water or a soda during the party. If people see you have a drink in your hand, they won’t ask you if you need one.
  • You Don’t Have to Go. Always remember you don’t have to go to the party. If you feel the situation may be too stressful, don’t go. Be selfish–put yourself first to ensure you stay on track.
  • Know Your Triggers. Avoid people, places or situations that might act as triggers. You must break the cycle of your old pattern or habits.
  • Practice Healthy Coping Skills. Everyone has coping skills, but choosing healthy ones will help maintain your routine. Exercising, eating heathy, getting plenty of rest, practicing yoga or meditation and staying in contact with your support system will help keep you focused.
  • For Family Members. If you have a loved one who struggles with overconsumption or alcoholism, make sure they understand you will always be there for them. If trust is an issue, know the difference between helping and enabling.
  • If You Stumble. Don’t let a lapse or a struggle with triggers cause you to throw your hard work out the window. Collect yourself, connect with a counselor or support group and be open and honest with family.
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